Identifying threshold concepts in undergraduate mathematics teaching

Identifying threshold concepts in undergraduate mathematics teaching

Date: Thursday 30 May 2024 10:00 - 16:00  Add this event to your calendar

Location: QMUL Mile End Graduate Centre - Room GC201

Register at: eventbrite

The notion of ‘threshold concepts’ can be considered akin to a portal, opening a new and previously inaccessible view of a topic, a view without which students would be unable to progress intellectually. Threshold concepts are also known to be ‘troublesome’ for students due to such knowledge being conceptually difficult, alien or counter-intuitive and intellectually absurd at face value.

Within the field of mathematics, research literature has identified several candidates that merit the title ‘threshold concepts’ such as: the concept of a function, the definition of the limit, complex numbers and the notion of mathematical proofs. However, despite the existence of isolated studies in this area, there is a strong need for mathematics educators in higher education to understand what key threshold concepts exist in mathematics-based modules and to be able to identify/recognise such concepts in their modules.

Motivated by this, the proposed one-day in-person workshop event, funded jointly by the London Mathematical Society (LMS) and the Queen Mary University of London's (QMUL) School of Engineering and Materials Science, will feature discussions and interactions between academics teaching on mathematics-based modules at university level aimed at identifying and recognising the implications of threshold concepts on curriculum design, teaching and assessment.

The format of this interactive workshop (see detailed agenda and session plans in registration link) will involve focused discussion groups and will feature colleagues from different institutions across the UK and further afield coming together to share ideas and disseminate good practice around this area. Identifying such concepts will enhance mathematics lecturers’ understanding of threshold concepts and provide them with a solid foundation to make use of to facilitate the development of students’ understanding of such concepts.

The workshop will be of interest to a wide range of academic lecturers and education staff (from faculty directors, teaching fellows to learning and teaching support staff) teaching mathematics-based modules in higher education and will provide a valuable opportunity for cross-institutional discussions about teaching and learning in mathematics.

Participant feedback on the workshop and feasibility to develop a community of practice will be obtained through an anonymous survey form distributed to attendees at the end of the workshop.

Please note:

- Registration will be limited to the first 60 individuals signing up, so please only register if you are able to attend in person.
- Luncheon as well as tea, coffee and refreshments will be provided on the day.
- If possible, please bring your laptops with you, as we will make use of them in some of the sessions.

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