Threshold concept refers to a core concept that a student must know about a particular subject. Threshold concepts, also known as threshold knowledge, when once understood by the student, completely changes their outlook on a particular subject matter, experience, or phenomenon.
The threshold concept was first introduced by Myer and Ray Land, who considered it as an opening to a new way of creative thinking about any specific subject. According to their research paper, threshold concepts were concepts that were held as central and universal by the experts of that field to conduct further analysis.
In their research paper, Myer and Ray have mentioned how during their research on Economics, they realized that economists considered some concepts and theories as central to the mastery of Economics. These concepts were defined as ‘threshold’ by them because they had certain common features.
In education, threshold concepts are considered a valuable tool for facilitating a student’s understanding of their coursework. Further, it is also noted to aid in the rational development of curricula. If not guided by threshold concepts, many times, the curriculum is overloaded due to a lack of understanding of the learning curve.
Threshold concepts can be transformative as they result in change of a perspective which may change a person’s entire belief system. They may also result in discovery of an interrelated information which was previously not found or missed out on. As people are resistant to change, it may be hard to accept or adapt to such new concepts.