Embedding Threshold Concepts into First Year Design History: Can we transform students understanding and way of seeing?

Arianne Rourke
Vol 30, Number 2, p.153
This paper considers the idea of a ‘threshold concept’ by arguing from the premise that students who are learning design history in higher education need to develop and practice particular skills before certain concepts can be learnt. Recent research has demonstrated that first year design students lack the visual literacy skills needed to identify key characteristics of a historic design style even after instruction has taken place (Rourke & O’Connor, 2009a, 2009b, 2010). It is argued that if instruction included prototypical exemplars, semantic cues and practice exercises that utilise visual literacy, learners could acquire some key threshold concepts in design history so that individual creativity and confidence may flourish.