M. Dempsey, A. Brennan

In the last decade, tertiary educational environments accommodated increasing student numbers (Reidy, 2015) while remaining competitive in differentiating their programmes in an arena of MOOCs (Alraimi, Zo, & Ciganek, 2014). In the context of large group teaching, the challenge for educators is to rethink learning environments and delivery methods such that a student-educator partnership approach is adopted, resulting in deep learning and debate rather than the delivery of a service thereby invalidating the viewpoint that a degree is a commodity rather than a set of skills. Molesworth, Nixon, & Scullion (2009) state that “students have long experienced a tension between approaching learning with an internal drive for self-development and the external requirement to have the right amount and type of knowledge to operate in the market”. Notwithstanding, it is easy for students to fall into a passive role, leaving the educator bearing this responsibility or guidance. Mulryan-Kyne (2010) recognises that active teaching in large groups has many challenges but concludes that these challenges can be overcome with educators and students working in partnership with a common focus. The authors assert that a pre requisite to deep learning is engagement, which is a common theme weaving through paradigms such as active learning, constructivism, problem based learning, the Flipped classroom etc.. The approaches used to encourage and foster engagement differ. Bevan & Dillon (2010) contend that formal and informal settings allow educators to develop more opportunities for dialog, which can result in greater learner engagement. Land R. ( 2014) argues that the educator needs to create a framework of engagement, so that students are encouraged to spend time in what is known as the liminal space i.e. the learning journey in the process of mastering a threshold concept (and thereby learning) (Meyer & Land, 2003). However, the journey through the liminal space can either be a positive or negative experience (Lucas, 2008). The length of time spent negotiating this space can be correlated to the type of relationship that exists between the learner and the educator. The student may experience increased insecurities and doubts as they journey through the liminal space (Cousin, 2003). Rethinking curriculum design and placing the student at the centre of the design process is an instrument to both invite students to enter liminal spaces and dampen negative experiences thereof.

In this paper, the authors present the results of a student perception survey of 61 Masters and Undergraduate students (from multicultural backgrounds). The purpose of this survey was to (1) determine their expectation level prior to taking the Lean Systems module and (2) elicit whether or not the rethinking of the curriculum design and delivery methods, both met their expectations and facilitated them in easing their transition through liminal spaces in the mastery of related threshold concepts. The authors will also outline the effectiveness of in-class activities which were used as portals or learning thresholds. Anecdotal comments from the students will also be used to relate aspects of their journey through the liminal space.