Cupcakes and Chihuahuas

cupcakes and chiwawas

Things look different in different circumstances – so you might not recognise them.  And some things look the same when they are very different – like muffins and dogs 🙂

Met with Julie and Nicola yesterday.

Julie got promoted!  Whoop Whoop!  and now is Associate Professor.

Julie kindly mentioned my work at the Thresholds Conference in Ohio and it was followed up by another researcher interested in entrepreneurship threshold concepts in Waterloo, Ontario contacting me.  It would be so good to get an international collaborative project going, I hope it turns into something.

My quest for a way into the educator data looks like it might be turning into two possible papers for publication.  One outlining the conceptual framework I am developing for the analysis of the educator data, and the other actually doing the analysis.

We spent most of the session talking through my thoughts on a conceptual framework and how the nature/ form of thresholds might be different in different disciplines and easier to see in some places than others.

The recent Ohio conference proceedings will be useful as perspectives were becoming more critical and more people were starting to talk about “complex thresholds”.  Julie will send me her paper that was presented there.  Shame I wasn’t there….

De-coding the disciplines might be worth revisiting again as they talk about bottle-necks, places which are troublesome but are not necessarily all threshold concepts.

The role of the student voice will also be interesting to chew over as there are opposing views on the value of including them – Felton vs Barradell.  Barradell argues not just for the voices of the educators and the students but for the stakeholders as well.

Perhaps a systematic review of the literature is called for (PT – post thesis) looking at methods used to identify TC’s and criteria used consistently to define whether something was one or not.

But I need to keep ploughing through the literature and note the people that are saying what I’m saying and the people that are disagreeing.  Julie noted that there’s not much out there critiquing the framework (threshold concepts) so my research could be very timely.

It will also be important to refer to “the framework” rather than the “theory”; as a framework can be context specific, which is what I am looking for here.

Nicola raised an important comparison with the work of Sue Bloxham who is looking at assessment practice.  She contrasts two perspectives concerning assessment: one approach where two markers are searching for the perfect mark – techno rationalist (the mark is out there somewhere) and the other where two markers construct the agreed mark between them – social constructivist.  Nicola noted that there is almost an obsession with the “correct” identification of TC’s similar to the techno -rational approach to assessment.  To go out looking for TCs implies they are sitting there waiting to be found.

I’m arguing for a more social constructivist approach – where the learning thresholds are constructed by the community of practice.  I am investigating different communities, or different communities within one big community, and exploring how they have constructed their understanding/s of entrepreneurship.  My role in the thesis is to understand how these various communities have constructed themselves.

I need to ask if they think about entrepreneurship differently from each other and if that matters?  I need to ask if it is important that the three communities understand each other and interact at all?  What are the linkages?  Where are they the same and different?  If standards are socially constructed by the groups there needs to be dialogue between them that I need to understand – it’s not the job of the researcher to “find them out”.

I may not to be able to answer all these questions in the thesis, but I can pose the questions and move later to propose answers perhaps in other research.

We then moved to discuss the possible ways in which learning thresholds can be different between the disciplines and why.  Does understanding maths require less “letting go” than understanding entrepreneurship?  Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, a practice, it needs to be embodied to be understood.  Therefore you likely have to let go of more of your old self to understand it.  Theoretical subjects require less embodiment – but there is a greater cognitive load.  There’s more to entrepreneurship than the acquisition of knowledge.  There’s something qualitatively different about entrepreneurship.

I need to research more into what other people have said about learning in the professions.

Also if you don’t have to go to university to be an entrepreneur – why is there a need for entrepreneurship education?  Because we can’t solve the world’s problems fast enough relying on the natural course of affairs, we need to accelerate the process.  We can’t rely on market forces, and the natural emergence of entrepreneurs, we need universities to help.  Also universities might lead to  more responsible entrepreneurship, more sustainable entrepreneurship, more diverse entrepreneurship, more team based entrepreneurship.  We hope.