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During last decades, scholars and general public have been expressing a great concern about the quality of new curriculum designs and qualification of graduates. Therefore, major approaches to learning and teaching draw attention, making an emphasis on efficiency and rationality.

Key goals of learning through participations (LTP) are “employability, integration of a theory and practice, enhancement of student learning, personal development, and community engagement” (Mackaway 2011, p. 3). Classification of LTP programs is vast. Nevertheless, four major aspects are highlighted: work-integrated learning, work-based learning, cooperative education, and service learning (Mackaway 2011, p. 3). LTP programs are applied in different fields, including such disciplines as “health and clinical sciences, engineering, law, hospitality, tourism and business” ( Mackaway 2011, p. 3).

A great variety of learning theories support learning through participation, such as “work-integrated learning, work-related learning, internship, volunteer work, live case studies…service learning”( Rowe et al. 2012, p. 1). The classification of key theories of learning in education comprises five approaches:”behaviorism, humanism, cognitivism, and constructivism” (Rowe et al. 2012, p. 1). These sets of ideas can be distinguished on the basis of their belonging to individual or social theories. For instance, cognitivism differs from constructivism in terms of learning situation: cognitivists provide individual context, and constructivist prefer the social one. In fact, each approach requires particular goals and roles of educators, certain disciplines included in the course, and learning activities. To illustrate, being the major philosophical approach supporting LTP, constructivism provides “critical reflection on experience and challenging” (Rowe et al. 2012, p. 1).

Allie, Sheridan, and many other researchers focus on learning in engineering discipline based “on the discourse of an engineering community” (Allie et al. 2009, p. 1). They view the purpose of learning in the ability “to act in a particular environment, where ‘acting’ is defined as being able to use the specialist discourse of that community” (Allie et al. 2009, p. 2). The term “discourse” describes particular ways of involving “language, acting, interacting, behaving, believing, using tools, sign systems” (Allie et al. 2009, p. 2), referring to a certain community. To illustrate, the discourse of being an engineer requires designing activities that provide individual’s identification with the member of an engineering community. The emphasis is shifted from internal features to external ones, including the skills of cooperation with other participants (Allie et al. 2009, p. 3). The key term is the notion of ‘discursive identity’, highlighting the fact of students’ identification by the means of discourse. It is not similar to acquiring knowledge, and reflects other participants’ vision of the individual (Allie et al. 2009, p. 3). Researchers claim that passive perception restricts the development of individual’s identity. Therefore, this data proves the strong necessity to provide discussions of key points with peers. To illustrate, engineering students should be encouraged to discuss technical issues with their mates (Allie et al. 2009, p. 3). Research made an emphasis on the demonstration of skills of taking part in a workplace community. Although, classroom and workplace communities differ, a teacher should create realistic identities of the future workplace (Allie et al. 2009, p. 4). Moreover, teachers are expected to understand the peculiarities of former communities of the students. To illustrate, students may choose engineering as their future profession for many reasons. Therefore, these aspirations should be taken into account in the creation of the learning environment. For example, Walker focuses on the fact that female engineering students tend to resemble males, choosing a resistance identity (Allie et al. 2009, p. 5). Research highlights that students “must master the discourse of this community, becoming fluent in the social practices through which meaning is made” (Allie et al. 2009, p. 5). The key way to success is the coordinated cooperation among the lecturers. Researchers suggest three teaching strategies that would provide students with opportunities to participate in the ways of thinking and acting. First strategy, implied by Jacobs in the Faculty of Engineering, can be regarded as the strategy of creating “collaborative partnerships between academic development practitioners and engineering lecturers” (Allie et al. 2009, p. 6). Students participate in these activities in the period of joint planning sessions. Working in groups, they found and provided teaching materials in studies. The above-mentioned teaching strategy was implemented in several ways, such as “peer classroom observation, collaborative materials development and team teaching” (Allie et al. 2009, p. 6). The second strategy, implied by Marshall and her colleagues in the Department of Physics includes several forms, such as “verbal, pictorial, physical, graphical, and mathematical representations” (Allie et al. 2009, p. 7). To illustrate, implying group work, students of this department have opportunities to discuss the key scientific points in workshop-style classes instead of conventional lectures. In fact, the curriculum was enhanced to allow students to explore major practical issues habitually learned as a postulate. Moreover, the emphasis was made on the great variety of ways of the discipline implementation. To illustrate, representatives of different professions share their experiences of using physics in their careers(Allie et al. 2009, p. 7).

The third strategy was implied in Chemical Engineering by Case, Kotta, and Mogashana (Allie et al. 2009, p. 7). The core of this approach is “students’ need to be actively involved in developing their ability to use chemical engineering discourse” (Allie et al. 2009, p. 7).This strategy comprises such aspects as interactive lectures providing opportunities for students challenges to deal with individually or in groups, active tutorials where the students are united into groups of three individuals to solve some problems, and a faculty where tutors consult students working on their own or in groups. Moreover, practical chemical engineer consult the students via the Internet (Allie et al. 2009, p. 7).

During the last decade, the idea of threshold concepts has been drawing attention of many scientists and teachers

Exploring the problem of strong teaching and learning environments, British researchers Erik Meyer and Ray Land have come to the conclusion that particular “concepts were held by economists to be central to the mastery of their subject” (Cousin 2006, p.4). Meyer regards threshold concepts as “a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something.”(Meyer 2003, p. 1). The researcher stresses that a threshold concept “represents a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing something without which the learner cannot progress” (Meyer 2003, p. 1). Meyer distinguishes “a transformed internal view of subject matter, subject landscape, or even world view” (Meyer 2003, p. 1). To illustrate, in physics, the concept of heat transfer can be explained depicting familiar things, such as cooling the cup of tea in the kitchen where the above-mentioned phenomena takes place (Meyer 2003, p. 1). In Cultural Studies, a deconstruction can be the example of a threshold concept, representing the detailed study of the discourse and a text and a critique the suggested message, arranging the argument by the author that is controversial to the massage itself. In Psychology, the attribution theory can represent the above-mentioned phenomenon, regarding two individuals who have separate experiences of the same outline and relying on their implementation of their experiences.

Threshold concepts can be characterized as transformative, irreversible, integrative, bounded, and troublesome phenomena(Meyer 2003, p. 1). To illustrate, threshold concepts can shift the perception of the issue by students. This leads to “shift in values, feeling or attitude” (Meyer 2003, p. 6). Moreover, “the change of perspective occasioned by acquisition of a threshold concept is unlikely to be forgotten, or will be unlearned only by considerable effort” (Meyer 2003, p. 6). Additionally, it shows the concealed interrelatedness of things (Meyer 2003, p. 6). Next, it is restricted, having borders with thresholds of new conceptual fields. For instance, In the area of Cultural Studies, a threshold concept can be regarded as the frontier dividing high and popular culture (Meyer 2003, p. 7). Finally, threshold concepts are possibly troublesome for several reasons. To illustrate, while studying statistic courses, many students do not realize the fundamental logic of classical statistics. They understand simple distinguished activities, techniques, such as running a regression, but they do not view the whole picture of the discipline. Therefore, the concept of sampling distribution is required.

Taking into account that similar concepts take core position among the sequences of learning curricular buildings, their troublesomeness for students proves great pedagogical value. Key questions to cope with the challenge are finding the best way of involving students into understanding of similar concepts and the tools for facilitation of learning threshold for students. According to Perkins, troublesome knowledge is, first, the information emerged from another culture or discourse or, second, data without any relations connected them as a whole thing (Meyer 2003, p. 7). Perkins claims that troublesome knowledge is divided into several types: ritual, inert, conceptually difficult, alien, tacit, and troublesome language. The key feature of ritual knowledge is its meaningless, such as names, dates, or diagrams (Meyer 2003, p. 6). Inert knowledge includes passive vocabulary comprehended as a whole, but not used in practice. For instance, students study certain technique activities in different subjects, nevertheless, they fail to apply their knowledge in everyday life. Perkins argues that conceptually difficult knowledge is regarded as troublesome in all educational fields, especially in exact sciences. As for alien knowledge, Perkins states that its key feature is the contradiction to own individual’s knowledge, although, the individual may not consider this information to be alien one. Tacit knowledge is troublesome because of the complexity of the information, its inconsistency, and controversial nature. Finally, the language can be troublesome.

Each discipline has a specific vocabulary that can be difficult for new entrants. Mayer notes that “threshold concepts would seem to be more readily identified within disciplinary contexts where there is a relatively greater degree of consensus on what constitutes a body of knowledge” (Meyer 2003, p. 9). This phenomena can be observes in such related disciplines as Mathematics, Physics, and Medicine. Meyer makes an emphasis that threshold concepts are significant, though extremely troublesome factor in the creation of productive learning environments within various disciplines. Facing with difficulties in understanding threshold concepts, students get a superficial view of the discipline (Meyer 2003, p. 9).

To sum up, during last decades, scholars and general public have been expressing a great concern about the quality of curriculum designs and qualification of graduates, drawing attention to innovative approaches to learning and teaching. They develop innovative approaches, such as learning through participation and employing of threshold concepts, into practice. Allie, Sheridan, and many other researchers highlight the great importance of LTP and view the purpose of learning in the ability to act in a particular environment, where ‘acting’ is defined as being able to use the specialist discourse of that community. The researches made an emphasis on the demonstration of skills of taking part in a workplace community. Although the classroom and workplace communities differ, a teacher should create realistic identities of the future workplace. First strategy, implied by Jacobs in the Faculty of Engineering, can be regarded as the strategy of creating collaborative partnerships between academic development practitioners and engineering lecturers. The second strategy, implied by Marshall and her colleagues in the Department of Physics has several forms such as verbal, pictorial, physical, graphical, and mathematical representations. The third strategy comprises such aspects as interactive lectures providing opportunities for students’ challenges to deal with individually or in groups, active tutorials where the students are united into groups of three individuals to solve some problems, and a faculty where tutors consult students working on their own or in groups.

The second key educational idea is a threshold concept, initiated by British researchers Jan Meyer and Ray Land in 2003. Scientists claim that there are certain core concepts essential for learners in mastering their discipline. Threshold concepts encourage teachers to choose vital information and not provide information they will not apply. Researchers distinguish major features of a threshold concept depicting it as transformative, irreversible, integrative, bounded, and troublesome. Meyer makes an emphasis that threshold concepts are significant, though teachers should take into account extremely troublesome factor in the creation of productive learning environments within various disciplines. It may lead to getting a superficial view of the discipline when students face difficulties in understanding threshold concepts.

Despite certain difficulties in implementation of new technologies in the educational system, practice proves the effectiveness of learning through communication approach and threshold concepts. Therefore, these achievements should be developed and widely used in education.

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