Threshold Concepts, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® and whole systems thinking: towards a combined methodology


This paper sets out a methodology for enhancing student and curriculum engagement with Threshold Concepts (Meyer and Land 2003; 2006) and associated notions of liminality (Land, R., Rattray, J., Vivian, P., 2014) across a range of disciplinary fields. The methodology builds closely on application techniques developed in LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, the evolution of which is informed by systemic views of, for example, organizational and strategic leadership, and systems theories such as Complex Adaptive Systems (Oliver and Roos, 2000). In recent years, we, and others, have adapted this methodology for use in educational settings, particularly as a vehicle for metaphorical exploration of dimensions of learning associated with professional and personal development (James, 2013; Gauntlett, 2011). Illustrating such approaches through exploratory practice undertaken with students at the University of the Arts London, we describe how they can be used to explore further dimensions of student learning: the models built in LEGO® offer mediating artefacts (Vygotsky, 1930/1978; Engeström, 1999) for mapping the epistemological terrain of a discipline, for supporting student learning of threshold concepts, and in particular for creating representative constructions to help learners negotiate liminality. The paper continues with a conceptual analysis of these experiences; through evaluating the methodology and theoretical context described, the paper suggests an emerging rationale for locating the Threshold Concepts Framework within a whole systems view of disciplinarity, and for using LEGO®-based activities to engage learners and practitioners with this view in potentially generative ways.



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