We started with a brief discussion of the conference of Philosophy in Higher Education in Aarhus, Denmark; “The Purpose of the Future University” which Julie and Ray had attended 6th – 8th November. It sounded very interesting and I will keep an eye out for the call for next years’ conference which will be in Leeds (a little easier to get to.)
I also got some positive feedback on the text for my Businet Keynote. Nicola suggested I should develop and backup Hannon’s inventory of educational philosophies, 2005 and corresponding approaches to the purpose of Entrepreneurship Education, adopting a more critical stance.
We then moved on to discuss progress on my research. I raised a concern about whether I was actually conducting a transactional curriculum inquiry as my three research groups (entrepreneurs, educators and students) were not interacting with each other to develop a curriculum.
Were there perhaps Threshold Concepts in Entrepreneurship and Threshold Concepts in Entrepreneurship Education – would the different research groups reveal their own respective threshold concepts? Which then raises the question of alignment. Do the threshold concepts of each group need to be aligned?
This prompted Julie to mention cumulative threshold concepts and complex thresholds.
Nicola wondered about the origin of transactional curriculum inquiry and suggested that as long as I could justify my methodological choices, it would be appropriate to refer to a method “informed by” or “influenced by” or “inspired by…” but not to worry about whether or not it was a ‘correct’ application of a particular method. Effectively my research groups are interacting with each other through me – I am the mediator. The curriculum is being co-created, co-constructed.
Then we started to consider what data to collect from the students and how best to do this. We wondered if we really needed a concept map, or just the concepts? I was hoping that the construction of the maps would reveal the threshold-y-ness of the concepts – by revealing spokes, chains, network, and cycles.
The idea of contrasting the maps from student of different levels (4, 5 & 6) would be interesting but perhaps less relevant here and for a further study.
I suggested a framework for a possible student workshop:
Stage I: Introduction to concept mapping and then ask students to create a concept map of entrepreneurship.
Stage II: Present threshold concept theory and ask the student to highlight the threshold concepts on the concept maps.
We chewed over many possible alternatives, including the possibility of interviews at the Stage II to interrogate the maps, or just carrying out Stage I and deducing the threshold concepts from the concept map construction. Or I could do both, in that I could deduce the TC’s from the map construction and then interview the students to find out what they thought the TC’s were (then compare).
Nicola referred to her work on feedforward and wondered if an interview could be used as an opportunity to construct an understanding of threshold concepts. So interviewees would be asked to identify the TC’s on their maps, then they could be asked a series of further questions to help deepen their understanding of TC’s and then asked again at the end of the interview to identify the TC’s. The interviewees could place moveable dots or some other indicator on their concept maps throughout the interview.
There is an issue of going from a concept map created by a group of students, to individual interviews where each group member may not feel the same level of ownership for the concept map or parts of the concept map.
Then Julie came up with the idea of developing some ready made link phrases that could be supplied to the student groups after they had created their collection of concepts of entrepreneurship. Using these linking phrases, they could then construct a map which would reveal where the threshold concepts might be for them.
Then the whole exercise could be done in a group workshop – 2 hours, with students grouped according to level on the programme. Stage I, would be to come up with the concepts in entrepreneurship, Stage II would be to create a concept map using the concepts and the ready made linking phrases. Phrases such as:
- pulls it all together and makes sense of lots of other aspects too
- opens up a new way of seeing the world
- requires you to start becoming a different sort of person
- differentiates the practice of entrepreneurship from regular business management
- can’t be forgotten
So my task is now to finalise the method for the student phase of the research and gain ethical approval for it.