F11.1 (187): Panel: Crossing Metaphorical Thresholds: Exploring the Humanities and its Disciplinary Contributions to SoTL

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Oct 13th at 10:30 AM until 12:00 PM

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Exciting though experiential learning or learning outcomes can be, Literature and other Humanities departments can find themselves left out, pushing back against new pedagogies, or contorting themselves awkwardly to fit spaces designed for other disciplines. Attention to learning thresholds (also called threshold concepts), though, has the potential to appeal even to the most "edu-speak" averse of literature professors. Its metaphorical language, its emphasis on transforming ways of thinking and seeing the world, and its recognition that students cross these thresholds at varying speeds fit more congenially with the kind of material we deal with; at the same time, it can encourage continuing conversations about the importance and ordering of concepts within a program. Drawing on the work of Jan Meyer, Ray Land, and others-cf. Threshold Concepts Within the Disciplines (2008) and Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding: Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (2012)-panelists will explore the particular contribution that the humanities can make to SoTL. Unlike the psychology-method-case-study model of much SoTL, the humanities interpose irresolvable contradictions, free-floating anxiety, not as a problem to be solved but as a "means of production," a necessary condition; in other words, a threshold concept of disciplinary inquiry that can intervene in our understanding of how SoTL can and may be done. How do our attempts to help students to navigate their cognitive dissonance help or obscure our own? What are the differences that govern those two domains, teaching and research? How does our experience illuminate those? What does the teaching space tell us about how we produce research in the humanities? There is a great deal written about using research in teaching, but so little about using teaching as a means of analysing research. This panel seeks to explore thresholds in the humanities classroom in order to explore what we believe is the greatest potential for strengthening a shared focus on teaching and learning in these disciplines: that is, the discussions that must happen before departments agree on what threshold concepts ought to be taught and when. These conversations about disciplinary threshold concepts as a way of focussing a department's attention on teaching and learning is applicable to many disciplines; it may be particularly fruitful across disciplinary boundaries in the Humanities, where there are arguably more shared than separate concepts.   5 key words    Learning Thresholds, Literature, Humanities, Threshold Concepts   Works Cited Meyer, Jan H. F. and Ray Land, eds.  Threshold Concepts Within the Disciplines. Routledge, 2008. ---. Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding: Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (2012).