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Threshold concepts and the troublesome transition from GCSE to A- level: exploring students’ experiences in secondary school biology

Dunn, M. J. (2019) Threshold concepts and the troublesome transition from GCSE to A- level: exploring students’ experiences in secondary school biology. Curriculum Journal. ISSN 0958-5176

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/09585176.2019.1646664

Abstract

This paper draws on doctoral research exploring the lived experiences of secondary school students during their first year of A-level study, through the theoretical lens of the Threshold Concept Framework (TCF). A longitudinal design frame based on Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) is employed, thus providing an original use of this methodology in education research to address the paucity of inquiry exploring the difficulties experienced by students as they transition from GCSE to A-level. In this context, I argue that students’ encounters with threshold concepts are significant for them, posing a degree of cognitive and affective challenge which serves to exacerbate the difficulty of transition already caused by increased workload and pressure. The findings offer insights into students’ struggles adjusting to shifting identity and membership of communities further intensified by the integrative, discursive and transformative nature of threshold concept acquisition. The longitudinal research design also surfaces positive aspects of growing awareness of the integrative power of threshold concepts. Recommendations are made for further research involving students, teachers and academics to explore threshold concepts in a range of other subjects and settings in secondary schools in the context of recent and significant changes to GCSE and A-level curricula.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 Taylor and Francis. This is an author-produced version of a paper published in Curriculum Journal. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Divisions: School of Teacher Development
Depositing User: Dr Matthew Dunn
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2019 10:48
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2019 08:19
URI: http://bgro.collections.crest.ac.uk/id/eprint/589

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