A threshold concept can be considered as akin to a portal, opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something. It represents a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing something without which the learner cannot progress. As a consequence of comprehending a threshold concept there may thus be a transformed internal view of subject matter, subject landscape, or even world view. This transformation may be sudden or it may be protracted over a considerable period of time, with the transition to understanding proving troublesome. Such a transformed view or landscape may represent how people ‘think’ in a particular discipline, or how they perceive, apprehend, or experience particular phenomena within that discipline (or more generally).
Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising within the Disciplines, Occasional Report 4, ETL Project, Universities of Edinburgh, Coventry and Durham, 2003, page 1.
Four extensive vignettes depict threshold and transformation as they
emerge in the management classroom, revealing the conditions in which they might occur, the threshold
moment, itself, and the transformation and its impact on individual learners and others in the class.