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Friday, June 19 • 10:45am - 11:15am
CON12.12 - Threshold process for understanding and applying systems principles

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This session will describe the theoretical framework of threshold concepts and explore its relevance to the relationship between epistemic and ontological cognitive development (EOCD) and applying systems principles to complex problems. Threshold concepts are defined as concepts that are essential for the mastery of a particular disciplinary framework (Meyer & Land, 2005). Further, they are key concepts that need to be understood before a student can develop beyond the stage of novice. 

Studies of personal epistemology focus on “how the individual develops conceptions of knowledge and knowing and utilizes them in developing understanding of the world” (Hofer & Pintrich, 2002, p. 4). These studies are interested in “beliefs about the definition of knowledge, how knowledge is constructed, how knowledge is evaluated, where knowledge resides, and how knowing occurs” (ibid). Systems thinking, based on the principles of holism and pluralism, is necessary for dealing with issues of complexity and uncertainty (Bawden, 2007). Both holism and pluralism require complex ontological beliefs and epistemic cognitive skills (Bawden, 2007).

By integrating Reflective Judgment Model (King & Kitchener, 1994) and Model of Epistemic and Ontological Cognitive Development (Greene, Torney-Purta, & Azevedo, 2010), I position EOCD as having the characteristics of a threshold concept for systems thinking; however, I argue further that the term threshold process is a more accurate descriptor for EOCD in relation to systems thinking. I will present pedagogical activities for promoting EOCD and developing systems thinking competencies. You will have the opportunity to discuss your own practices relative to teaching about systems.

Key words: Epistemic and ontological cognitive development, threshold concepts, systems thinking

Bawden, R. (2007). Pedagogies for persistence: cognitive challenges and collective competency development. International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development, 2(3), 299–314.

Greene, J. A., Torney-Purta, J., & Azevedo, R. (2010). Empirical evidence regarding relations among a model of epistemic and ontological cognition, academic performance, and educational level. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(1), 2

Hofer, B. K., & Pintrich, P. R. (Eds.). (2002). Personal epistemology: the psychology of beliefs about knowledge and knowing. Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, N.J: L.

King, P. M., & Kitchener, K. S. (1994). Developing Reflective Judgment. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Meyer, J. H. F., & Land, R. (2005). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge (2): Epistemological considerations and a conceptual framework for teaching and learning. Higher Education, 49(3), 373–388.

Friday June 19, 2015 10:45am - 11:15am PDT
Cypress 2 Room

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