Insights into teaching a complex skill: Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge in electroencephalography (EEG)

Jeremy J. Moeller, Tim Fawns
  • Medical Teacher, December 2017, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/0142159x.2017.1408902

What are the difficult aspects of learning EEG and why are they hard?

What is it about?

Threshold concepts (TCs) are ideas within a discipline that are often conceptually difficult ("troublesome"), but when learned, transform a learner's understanding. Electroencephalography (EEG) has been recognized as a conceptually difficult field in neurology, and a study of threshold concepts in EEG may provide insights into how it is taught and learned. One concept (polarity) emerged most clearly as a threshold concept. Other troublesome areas included pattern interpretation and clinical significance, but these lacked some of the characteristics of TCs. Several themes emerged, including the role of TCs and troublesome knowledge in determining expertise and the role of prior experience.

Why is it important?

We have used the threshold concepts framework to explore potential barriers to learning, suggest ways to support learners, and identify potential points of emphasis for teaching and learning EEG. A similar approach could be applied to the study of teaching and learning in other conceptually difficult areas of medical education.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Tim Fawns

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