Students’ experiences of threshold capability development with intensive mode teaching

Sally Male, F Alam, Caroline Baillie, S Crispin, Phil Hancock, Jeremy Leggoe, Cara MacNish, D Ranmuthugala

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paperpeer-review


This study focuses on the student experience of passing through critical transformatory thresholds, facilitated by intensive mode teaching. Intensive mode teaching (IMT) involves students engaging in facilitated learning activities or classes over longer periods each day, and over fewer days than is traditional in the discipline. Threshold concept theory and the related threshold capability theory provide a particularly appropriate theoretical basis from which to study the transformation of students’ learning in this mode. Threshold concepts are assumed to be transformative for students because they open new ways of thinking and knowing. With threshold capabilities students can apply threshold concepts to respond to previously unseen problems. Threshold capabilities are
necessary for future learning or practice in a discipline and must be central to curriculum design. As IMT is becoming increasingly popular it is important to ensure that students’ experience of learning with IMT is optimal. We investigated students’ experiences of threshold capability in eight intensive mode units at four universities, including undergraduate and postgraduate units in business and engineering. The approach included an exploratory phase with students and teaching team members, rationalisation, and surveys based on identified themes. Students’ responses revealed that their experiences of threshold capabilities were not always as intended by academics. In some units, concepts that were not central occupied time that students could not readily afford.
Students reported that factors that helped their learning included extended in-class discussion and group activities. The opportunity to ask questions was significantly more important to learning in intensive than other modes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch and Development in Higher Education: The Shape of Higher Education
EditorsAllan Goody, Melissa Davis
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherHigher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventHigher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Annual Conference 2016 - Perth, Australia
Duration: 4 Jul 20167 Jul 2016
Conference number: 39


ConferenceHigher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Annual Conference 2016
Abbreviated titleHERDSA 2016


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