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Threshold concepts and the development of initial teacher identity in English language teacher education in Oman: an investigation of students’ perceptions

Threshold concepts and the development of initial teacher identity in English language teacher education in Oman: an investigation of students’ perceptions.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (Ed.D Thesis) - Accepted Version


According to Meyer and Land (2003), threshold concepts are the most important concepts in disciplines at higher education. Understanding a threshold concept helps students to go through an epistemological and ontological shift in their ways of thinking and practice (Meyer & Land, 2003; Davies, 2006). Threshold concepts have been characterised as transformative, irreversible, integrative, troublesome, bounded, reconstitutive, and discursive. To date, little research has been conducted to identify threshold concepts in teacher education, especially in English teacher education programmes in a non-English speaking country like Oman.

This thesis has identified the knowledge student teachers in Oman experience as threshold concepts and the way in which they interact with and understand such concepts. It has also investigated how those threshold concepts support the development of an initial teacher identity. This was done by implementing a mixed methods design, using a questionnaire and semi-structured interview. A compare and contrast analysis was used for analysing the quantitative data obtained from a total of 212 Y1 and Y4 student teachers at two Omani colleges, whereas the qualitative data were generated from 20 semi-structured interviews which were analysed thematically.

Critical thinking, teaching methods, classroom management and assessment were identified as threshold concepts in teacher education, though some researchers may question the inclusion of classroom management as a threshold concept as it is a practice not a concept. The inclusion of classroom management demonstrates that identifying threshold concepts in teacher education is a complex process since skills-based thresholds and classroom practices cannot be easily separated.

Finally, the analysis showed that Y1 student teachers tended to experience language-related concepts as threshold concepts, whereas Y4 student teachers focused on pedagogy-oriented concepts. The findings will help educators, instructors and course designers improve the curricula of teacher education at those Omani colleges as well as other institutions and benefit the development of students’ initial teacher identity.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Keywords:threshold concepts, troublesome knowledge, liminal space,epistemological and ontological shift, teacher identity
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 Sep 2020 08:23

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