An Overview of the Application of Enquiry Based Learning and Threshold Concepts in Practice Based Arts

Gilvary, Gerry (2012) An Overview of the Application of Enquiry Based Learning and Threshold Concepts in Practice Based Arts. In: National Academy’s Sixth Annual Conference and the Fourth Biennial Threshold Concepts Conference. Threshold Concepts: from personal practice to communities of practice, 2012, June 28 - 29 2012, Trinity College Dublin., Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.


In 2008, I introduced Enquiry Based Learning (EBL) approaches across a number of Media Studies/Production subjects, in response to a feeling that graduates were still lacking the essential practical and transferable skills required for the creative industries. Most students behaved as polished mimics rather than potential thinkers and doers of the profession. They could often demonstrate in a simulated environment what was approximately required, yet show little evidence of deep structure learning (synthesis of theory and practice, critical reflection and evaluation, time management, team-working, communication skills and so on). In SOLO taxonomy terms, (Biggs, 2002), a significant student cohort would stay at a multistructural level while some would reach the relational level. EBL placed the responsibility of learning onto the student as an essential part of their passage into a community of practice. The philosophy moved from Teaching and Learning to Ways of Thinking and Practicing (Entwisle 2004). The EBL approach has proved successful across a number of areas (Learning Outcomes, grades, better standard of work, higher student and personal satisfaction). EBL introduced new challenges into the way I work and think about what I do, it especially highlighted “Troublesome Knowledge” (Perkins, 1999). In December 2010, I was introduced to “Threshold Concepts” (Meyer and Land, 2006). Indeed, it proved to be a portal into a “liminal space” (Meyer and Land, 2006), that allowed me to further develop EBL methods to support students with the demands of the Threshold Concepts of Media Production (the fundamental shift from a passive media consumer to an active media producer). My presentation will concentrate on my own personal experiences and on-going qualitative research into the complex issues of Threshold Concepts foregrounded within an EBL structure. It will be delivered pseudo- Pecha-Kucha style with video material.

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