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How Can Digital Media Enhance Students' Mastery of Troublesome Knowledge?


About the Project

This project examined the affordances of digital media in supporting students' investigation of troublesome knowledge. By its very nature, digital media occupies a ‘third space’ – crossing temporal and physical thresholds. In this space, troublesome knowledge can be visited and revisited at intervals allowing students to bring new insight and make fresh connections throughout their learning journey. Digital media can provide a window on otherwise inaccessible places. New ways of ‘knowing’ can be created when threshold concepts are presented in multiple formats, and knowledge can be shared across disciplines or even communities, providing fresh perspectives on accepted norms. By taking an interdisciplinary approach in this project, we explored what troublesome knowledge means to a diverse group of students and staff and design digital media solutions informed by multiple perspectives.

Project Aims

This project aimed to enhance students’ mastery of threshold concepts within their discipline. It helped them to meet learning outcomes and even move them beyond this to a fuller understanding of their field. The persistence of material in the online space means that students can revisit online teaching content at a time that is relevant to them and the stage they are at in their studies. Ideas can be presented in a range of formats to promote fresh perspectives but also to accommodate preferences and increase accessibility/inclusivity for students with dyslexia, autism, English as a second language, or even shyness. Teaching staff will have a greater understanding of what students find difficult in their course and can focus attention to those aspects without losing time for other teaching.

Project Impact

This project not only explored students' experience of troublesome knowledge across disciplines here at Warwick, it also sought to find sustainable solutions for both students and staff. Resources will be developed to support teaching and learning in the threshold concepts identified as part of this project – namely: understanding of the self and the use of self-reflection in developing leadership practice; the uncertainty of outcomes as a feature of group dynamics; and the need for rich simulated experiences to develop understanding of leadership in action. Digital teaching resources can be rolled forward from one year to the next and may be applicable across more than one course, and can either be used within a course as part of a blended teaching approach or as more general teaching resource. Details of the project can be shared via TEALfest and Education forum presentations - a presentation on the subject was delivered at the EERN conference, which will be developed into a research paper.

On Friday 2 June, Edwina Jones, Nicola Knowles and Lauren Ketteridge presented at the UK & Ireland Engineering Education Research Network Annual Conference (EERN 2023; hosted by WMG). Their paper, entitled 'How can digital media enhance students' mastery of threshold concepts?', examined whether interactive or immersive digital content can extend classroom teaching, particularly in relation to threshold concepts which may be liminal, troublesome, integrative or transformative. You can read the paper and see the presentation slides here:

Project Lead

Edwina Jones

Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG)

Edwina Jones

Project Co-Lead

Nicola Knowles

Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG)


  • Helen Jones, WMS
  • Susan Wakeman, WMG
  • Nicola Knowles, WMG
  • Will Haywood, CTE


  • Lauren Ketteridge, WMG