According to research into threshold concepts once a learner understands a particular concept they are then unlikely to forget and subsequently have the ability to apply their learning to similar and more complex tasks. Teaching basic concepts to novice accountancy learners can be a tricky task particularly as the teacher is already very familiar with the topic.
At DIT, Alice Luby (a lecturer in accountancy), has employed various strategies including use of clickers in trying to accomplish understanding of basic concepts and calculations in accountancy with first year students.
The lecturer presents first year students with multiple choice questions on basic but essential concepts in order to gauge understanding of the class. Immediate feedback from the class indicates if further explanations or revision of the topic is necessary. Interestingly the use of clickers has also enabled the lecturer to test for deeper learning by developing more complex problems in order to test if students can apply the concepts to other tasks.
Alice reports improved student interaction and engagement in class time. Clickers also provide immediate feedback for the lecturer and the student enabling rapid identification of misunderstandings
The use of clickers to test for understanding of threshold concepts has also allowed her to test for deeper understanding of concepts by using more abstract problems for students to solve. Interestingly, she has found that while surface understanding has been achieved, deeper understanding is often not accomplished and more support is needed in order to establish successful completion of complex problems. This has invoked reflection on teaching methods used in order to facilitate deeper understanding of threshold concepts.