“It’s the Way I Tell ’Em!” It Is Not What We Teach but How We Do It: Using Focus Group Discussions to Research Student Perspectives on Threshold Concepts in Health


This case study will introduce the reader to threshold concepts, outlining what they are and how they are defined, before moving on to discuss a qualitative research project with undergraduate students to explore perceptions of threshold concepts within health. The study aimed to establish whether threshold concepts within health are identifiable from a student perspective and to explore the teaching and learning processes by which students master such concepts. Focus groups were conducted with students at level 6 of an undergraduate health-related degree and this case study will outline the data collection processes undertaken within this research. This case study provides an account of the research process, taking the reader through the methods that were used describing focus group discussions with students to both explore and try to gain understanding of the ways in which they learn. The case sheds light upon the challenges of conducting research with students who we are teaching as well as highlighting the findings, which show how exploration of threshold concepts can provide insight into how students learn.

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