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Threshold Concepts, Troublesome Knowledge, and the Design of Digital Humanities Projects

Threshold Concepts, Troublesome Knowledge, and the Design of Digital Humanities Projects

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Threshold Concepts, Troublesome Knowledge, and the Design of Digital Humanities Projects

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  1. Threshold Concepts, Troublesome Knowledge, and the Design of Digital Humanities Projects Randy Bass Georgetown University NEH Vectors Institute on the Digital Humanities July 22, 2011

  2. Outline • Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge • Threshold Concepts and Epistemic Frames • Reading and Resistance • Digital Stories and Threshold Concepts • Digital environments and approximations of expert practice

  3. Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (Jan Meyer and Ray Land) Decoding the Disciplines (David Pace et. al.) learning/site design strategies rooted in disciplinary practice Social Pedagogies (“Designing for Difficulty”) Randy Bass and Heidi Elmendorf

  4. From the Wiki “The project will enhance users’ capacity to visualize connections between environmental, public health and economic crises, 2) move across scales…3) understand how scientifically-engaged media can generate new perspectives on complex problems.” (Nick Shapiro)

  5. From the Wiki “Through its design, the goal of the project is to show its users how representations of the witnesses to the murder were works of projection by cultural intermediaries... The project points to a larger set of perceptual and epistemological problems that trouble the social and moral act of witnessing, ones that are structured by the necessarily mediatic nature of witnessing.” (Carrie Rentschler)

  6. From the Wiki “I’ve been looking for ways to better share my research with a general audience, especially the community of people who grew up in the scene.” (Oliver Wang) “The site would therefore have the following goals: To provide experiential points of entry to some of the central arguments of the book. 2. To offer an accessible alternative to the more esoteric academic arguments of the book so that they might be more “available” to ongoing discussions….” (Johnathan Sterne)

  7. Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge Special thanks to Renee Meyers U. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA, who graciously allowed me to use, and revise, her slides Adapted from slides by James Atherton.

  8. Threshold Concepts “A threshold concept can be considered as akin to a portal, opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something. It represents a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing something without which the learner cannot progress….” Jan Meyer and Ray Land, “Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising within the Disciplines.” Occasional Report 4, May 2003. Enhancing Teaching-Learning Environments in Undergraduate Courses Project. University of Edinburgh.

  9. Examples of Threshold Concepts From the 2003 Meyer and Land essay: • Opportunity Cost (Economics) • Limit / Infinity (Math) • Signification (Literary and Cultural Studies) Others • Geologic time (Geology) • Visual literacy (Art history) • Personhood (Philosophy)

  10. “As a consequence of comprehending a threshold concept there may thus be a transformed internal view of subject matter, subject landscape, or even world view. This transformation may be sudden or it may be protracted over a considerable period of time, with the transition to understanding proving troublesome.” Jan Meyer and Ray Land, “Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising within the Disciplines.” Occasional Report 4, May 2003. Enhancing Teaching-Learning Environments in Undergraduate Courses Project. University of Edinburgh.

  11. Threshold Concepts and troublesome knowledge include Threshold concepts themselves are like A portal to new understanding they are likely to be transformative irreversible

  12. Threshold Concepts and troublesome knowledge include Threshold concepts themselves are like A portal to new understanding they are likely to be integrative transformative irreversible

  13. Threshold Concepts in American Studies / Interdisciplinary Humanities? • Identity • Race (whiteness, constructedness?) • Space • Visibility / invisibility (presence / absence) • Community • ?

  14. Threshold Concepts in Digital Humanities Scholarship “They are spaces that people call home, which is precisely why this spatio-temporal cartography will adapt new media to allow users to create their own narratives about reservation space and time.” (Kara Thompson) “This project theorizes community murals as a discursive space of ‘provisional identities’ where ‘identity is about situatedness in motion: embodiment and spatiality.”’ (Mike Rocchio and David Kim, quoting Juana Maria Rodriguez).

  15. Threshold Concepts in Digital Humanities Scholarship “Re-Collecting Black Hawk is an image-text essay investigating how Westward Expansion is selectively commemorated and inadvertently re-inscribed through the visual culture and memorial landscapes…” (Sarah Kanouse and Nicholas Brown).

  16. From the Wiki “Through its design, the goal of the project is to show its users how representations of the witnesses to the murder were works of projection by cultural intermediaries... The project points to a larger set of perceptual and epistemological problems that trouble the social and moral act of witnessing, ones that are structured by the necessarily mediatic nature of witnessing.” (Carrie Rentschler)

  17. Identifying TCs • Identify a threshold concept in your own project • Why did you choose this concept? • How does it fit (or not fit) the definition presented here?

  18. Threshold Concepts and troublesome knowledge include Threshold concepts themselves are like A portal to new understanding they are likely to be troublesome? transformative integrative irreversible

  19. Threshold Concepts and troublesome knowledge include Threshold concepts troublesome themselves are like A portal to new understanding they are likely to be transformative integrative irreversible

  20. Threshold Concepts ritual and troublesome knowledge include inert Threshold concepts troublesome themselves knowledge conceptually are like difficult A portal to new alien understanding they are likely to be tacit transformative integrative irreversible

  21. Implications of threshold concept theory for teaching and learning

  22. Implications of threshold concept theory for teaching and learning • Often presented as just one more concept and then move on. • Tacit concept but operative continuously. Experts underdetermine need to address the threshold concept as part of course / learning design. • Student’s get stuck. Wide variation among learners in passing through the threshold.

  23. Characteristics Ambiguity, oscillation Mimicry Fear of learning Regression Changes in Movement Being ‘in the threshold’ Rite of passage Beginning to “think like” Starting to take ownership Getting beyond ‘stuckness’ Liminality

  24. You don’t acquire threshold concepts by listening… Not just about knowledge to be acquired, but Ways of thinking Ways of acting (practice) Ways of talking A sense of identity Embodied

  25. Decoding the Disciplines: Instructional Bottlenecks

  26. “Decoding the Disciplines” Project (University of Indiana: David Pace and Colleagues) • how do experts in that discipline think and practice their discipline? • “instructional bottlenecks”

  27. Expert Thinking Identify “Decoding the Disciplines” Project (University of Indiana: David Pace and Colleagues) Model Assess Practice Motivate

  28. Expert Thinking Identify “Decoding the Disciplines” Project (University of Indiana: David Pace and Colleagues) Model Assess Practice Motivate

  29. Threshold Concepts and Epistemic Frames Epistemicgames.org/eg

  30. Threshold Concepts and Epistemic Frames Donald Williamson Shaffer Epistemicgames.org/eg

  31. Threshold Concepts and Epistemic Frames Skills: the things that people within the community do Knowledge: the understandings that people in the community share Identity: the way that members of the community see themselves Values: the beliefs that members of the community hold Epistemology: the warrants that justify actions or claims as legitimate within the community Epistemicgames.org/eg

  32. Threshold Concepts and Epistemic Frames Epistemic Frames (“Ensemble”) Schaffer (after Schon) Skills Knowledge Values Identity • Threshold Concepts • (Meyer and Land) Ways of thinking Ways of acting (practice) Ways of talking A sense of identity

  33. Michael Wesch: “From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able” “I like to think that we are not teaching subjects but subjectivities: ways of approaching, understanding, and interacting with the world.”

  34. Implications for DH design projects? Epistemic Frames (“Ensemble”) Skills Knowledge Values Identity • Threshold Concepts Ways of thinking Ways of acting (practice) Ways of talking A sense of identity What are the threshold concepts of your project? What makes them troublesome, for which audiences? ? What kind of epistemic frame do you want users to have while navigating your project?

  35. Reading and Resistance • \ Frank Ambrosio, Eddie Maloney, William Garr, Theresa Schlafly (Georgetown, Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship)

  36. Reading and Resistance: MyDante and threshold concepts (“contemplative reading practice”) • Literal narrative level • Metaphoric and ironic level • Reflective level http://dante.georgetown.edu

  37. Reading and Resistance: MyDante http://dante.georgetown.edu

  38. Reading and Resistance: MyDante MyDante explores ways to use a digital text environment to bridge the personal and social natures of the act of reading. FrnakAmbrosio and Theresa Schlafly, “Toward a ‘Readerly Utopia,’” (forthcoming) http://dante.georgetown.edu

  39. Reading and Resistance: MyDante http://dante.georgetown.edu

  40. Reading and Resistance: MyDante http://dante.georgetown.edu

  41. Reading and Resistance: MyDante and threshold concepts (“contemplative reading practice”) • MyDante “slows down” reading (expert-like), decodes the act of reading • Translates into text/contexts as database • Reading as private and social • Understanding as convergent http://dante.georgetown.edu

  42. Reading and Resistance

  43. Reading and Resistance

  44. Digital Stories and Threshold Concepts in the Humanities

  45. Digital Stories Multimedia Archive