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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Dr Julie Rattray

Rattray, J. & Chen, D. (2017). Transforming Thinking through Problem-based Learning in the News Media Literacy Class: Critical thinking as a threshold concept towards threshold capabilities. Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 12(2): 272-293.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper considers the extent to which critical thinking might be conceived of as a threshold concept which unlocks threshold capabilities in learners. Utilising a problem-based learning approach to pedagogy the paper reports a small scale study which was designed to explore whether students in a Media Literacy class could be supported to develop their critical thinking capabilities. The paper argues that such capabilities represent a threshold transformation in learners, unlocking as they do a new way of engaging with media literacy. Using Baxter Magolda’s model of the development of critical thinking the study examines the extent to which students shift from a very egocentric view of the world to a more integrative and reflexive view of the world as their critical thinking capabilities become more sophisticated. The paper further argues that whilst critical thinking can be seen as a threshold concept it might also be viewed of as a threshold capability which is transferable across a number of domains - it transcends the discipline and might be considered to be a more complex threshold.