The Grit in the Oyster – does an appreciation of threshold concepts in an adult literacies teaching qualification result in pearls of practice

David Wallace


Abstract

This paper draws from the experiences of a new adult literacies teaching qualification in Scotland that has been designed for experienced but unqualified adult literacies tutors.  Created to respond to an approach to adult literacies as social practices (Scottish Executive 2001, 2005, Tett et al 2006), the course team employs a sociocultural pedagogy that explicitly rejects transmission and seeks to build critical reflection through learning from experience, collaborative activities and the creation of an on-line community (Ackland and Wallace 2006).  Recognising that ‘moments of conflict and disjuncture may form the spaces in which learning occurs’ (Lewis, Enciso and Moje 2007:5) the paper explores whether ideas about liminality and threshold concepts (Cousin 2006:1, Land, Meyer and Smith 2008) illuminate the learning process.  It concludes that engagement with these concepts may assist adult literacies tutors to develop transformed practice (Cope and Kalantzis 2003:35).

Full Text

PDF

References

Ackland, A and Wallace, D (2006) Teaching Teaching as Social Practice – TQAL a professional development curriculum for social actors, paper presented at the 2006 NRDC International Conference, Nottingham, retrieved 25 June 2010 from http://www.nrdc.org.uk/content.asp? Category ID=657 & ArticleID=863#13.

Bereiter, C and Scardamalia, M (2003) Learning to Work Creatively with Knowledge, in De Corte, E, Verschaffel, L and Entwistle, N eds, Powerful Learning Environments: Unravelling basic components and dimensions, Pergamon, Oxford, pp 55-68.

Biggs, J and Tang C (2007) Teaching for Quality Learning at University, 3rd edition, Open University Press, Maidenhead.

Boud, D (2000) Sustainable Assessment: Rethinking assessment for the learning society, Studies in Continuing Education, vol 22, no 2, pp 151—167. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/713695728

Boud, D, Solomon, N and Symes, C (2001) New Practices for New Times, in Boud, D and Solomon, N, eds, Work Based Learning: A new higher education? Open University Press, Buckingham.

Brookfield, S (2000) Adult Cognition as a Dimension of Lifelong Learning, in Field, J and Leicester, M, eds, Lifelong Learning: Education across the lifespan, Routledge—Falmer, London.

Cheetham, G and Chivers, G (2001) How Professionals Learn -the Practice! What the empirical research found, Journal of European Industrial Training, vol 25, no 5, pp 270 —292.

Claxton, G, Atkinson, T, Osborn, M and Wallace, M(eds) (2000) Liberating the Learner: Lessons for Professional Development in Education, Routledge, London

Collin, K and Valleala, M (2005) Interaction Among Employees: How does learning take place in the social communities of the workplace and how might such learning be supervised? Journal of Education and Work, vol 18, no 4, pp 401—420. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13639080500327873

Cope, B, and Kalantzis, M (2003) Multiliteracies – Literacy Learning and the Design of Social futures, Routledge, Oxfordshire.

Cousin, G (2006) An Introduction to Threshold Concepts, Planet, no 17, December, pp 4-5.

Cranton, P (2006) Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning – A guide for educators of adults, 2nd edition, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Davies, P, Hamilton, M and James, K (2007) Maximising the Impact of Practitioner Research – A handbook of practical advice, NRDC, London.

De Corte, E, Vershaffel, L, Entwhistle, N and van Merrienboer, J (2003) Powerful Learning Environments: Unravelling basic components and dimensions, Pergamon, Oxford.

Earl, L and Timperley, H, eds (2008) Professional Learning Conversations – Challenges in using evidence for improvement, Springer, London.

Engestrom, Y (2001) Expansive Learning At Work: Toward an activity theoretical reconceptualisation, Journal of Education and Work, vol 14, no 1, pp 133-156.

Eraut, M (1994) Developing Professional Knowledge and Competence Falmer, London.

Eraut, M, Alderton, J, Cole, G, and Senker, P (1998) Learning From Other People At Work, in Coffield, F, ed, Learning at Work, Polity Press, Bristol, pp 37-48.

Evans, K, and Kersh, N (2006) Adults Learning in, for and through the Workplace: The significance of biography and experience, Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Warwick, 6-9 September 2006.

Freire, P (1972) Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Penguin, Harmondsworth.

Green, A and Howard, U (2007) Skills and Social Practices: Making common cause – an NRDC Policy Paper, NRDC, London

Hagar, P (2004) The Conceptualisation of Measurement of Learning, in Rainbird, H, Fuller, A and Munro, A, eds, Workplace Learning In Context, Routledge, New York, pp 242-258.

Hakkarainen, K, Palonen, T, Paavola, S, and Lehtinen, E (2004) Communities of Networked Expertise: Professional and educational perspectives, Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Hillier, Y (2008) Evaluation Report of the Pilot Teaching Qualification in Adult Literacies, unpublished report.

Illeris, K (2007) How We Learn, Routledge, Oxon.

Kirkwood, C (1990) Vulgar Eloquence – From labour to liberation, Polygon, Edinburgh.

Land, R, Meyer, J and Smith J, eds (2008) Threshold Concepts Within the Disciplines, Sense, Rotterdam.

Lewis, C, Encisco, P, and Moje EB (2007) Reframing Sociocultural Research on Literacy – Identity, agency and power, Lawrence Erlbaum, New Jersey.

Maclachlan, K (2006) Don't Look North through Rose Tinted Spectacles: Tensions, struggles, and guiding lights in Scotland, RaPAL, vol 60, Summer, pp 32-36.

Meyer, J, and Land, R (2003) Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to ways of thinking and practising within the disciplines, ETL Project, Occasional report 4, retrieved 4 September 2008 from http://www.ed.ac.uk/etl/docs/ETLreport4.pdf.

Meyer, J, and Land, R (2006) Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding: Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge, Routledge, London.

Moon, J (2006) A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning – Theory and practice, Routledge-Falmer, Oxon.

Paechter, C (2003) Masculinities and Femininities as Communities of Practice, Women's Studies International Forum, vol 26, no 1, pp 69-77. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0277-5395(02)00356-4

Papen, U (2005) Adult Literacy as Social Practice: More than skills, Routledge, London. http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780203347119

Sachs, J (2000) The Activist Professional, Journal of Educational Change, vol 1, no 1, pp 77-95. http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1010092014264

Sachs, J (2003) The Activist Teaching Profession, Open University Press, Buckingham.

Saunders, M (2006) From Organisms" to "Boundaries": The uneven development of theory narratives in education, learning and work connections, Journal of Education and Work, vol 19, no 1, February 2006, pp 1-27." http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13639080500523026

Scottish Executive (2001) Adult Literacy and Numeracy in Scotland Report, Scottish Executive, Edinburgh.

Scottish Executive (2005) An Adult Literacy And Numeracy Curriculum Framework For Scotland, Scottish Executive, Edinburgh.

Sommerlad, E (2003) Theory, research and practice – the problematic appearance of pedagogy in post——compulsory education, Journal of Adult and Continuing Education, vol 8, no 2, pp 147-164. http://dx.doi.org/10.7227/JACE.8.2.3

Tett, L, Hall, S, Maclachlan, K, Thorpe, G, Edwards, V and Garside, L (2006) Evaluation of the Scottish Adult Literacy and Numeracy Strategy – Final Report, Scottish Executive, Edinburgh.

Wenger, E (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, meaning, and identity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511803932

Wenger, E, McDermott, R and Snyder, W (2002) Cultivating Communities of Practice: A guide to managing knowledge, Harvard Business School, Boston.

Zemblyas, M (2006) Work-based learning, power and subjectivity: creating space for a Foucaldian research ethic Journal of Education and Work, vol 19, no 3, pp 291—303. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13639080600776847