Threshold concepts in art education: Negotiating the ambiguity in pre-service teacher identity formation | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1743-5234
  • E-ISSN: 2040-090X



The dual nature of being simultaneously an artist and a teacher has long been recognized as a source of stress for novice and mid-career art educators. The article describes findings from a qualitative study into first-year art education students’ experiences of studio-based art courses. Data comprising interviews with six instructors and focus-group interviews with a total of twelve students revealed the extent to which the above problem takes root early on before prospective teachers have entered the classroom, and indicates a pressing need for pre-service art teacher training to address this issue. We suggest the inherent dichotomy at the heart of art education can be understood as a problematic liminal space, which students experience both on a personal as well as an institutional level, and we explore how Threshold Concept theory might serve as a key to help students fuse their conflicting identities into a coherent sense of self.


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