IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Operationalising a Threshold Concept in Economics: A Pilot Study Using Multiple Choice Questions on Opportunity Cost

Listed author(s):
  • Martin P. Shanahan


    (University of South Australia)

  • Gigi Foster


    (University of South Australia)

  • Jan H. F. Meyer


    (University of Durham)

This paper addresses the emerging educational framework that envisions threshold concepts as mediators of learning outcomes. While the threshold concepts framework is highly appealing on a theoretical level, few researchers have attempted to measure threshold concept acquisition empirically. Achieving this would open a new arena for exploration and debate in the threshold concepts field, and provide potential results to inform teaching practice. We begin the process of operationalising threshold concepts in economics by attempting to measure students' grasp of the threshold concept of opportunity cost in an introductory economics class. We suggest two potential measures and correlate them with an array of ex ante and ex post variables, including students' expectations of success, prior misconceptions about economics and the work of economists, and actual success in the course. Results cast new light onto the factors that influence the acquisition of threshold concepts, the relationship between threshold concept acquisition and final learning outcomes, and the empirical viability of threshold concepts generally.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by Economics Network, University of Bristol in its journal International Review of Economics Education.

Volume (Year): 5 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 29-57

in new window

Handle: RePEc:che:ireepp:v:5:y:2006:i:2:p:29-57
Contact details of provider: Postal:
University of Bristol, BS8 1HH, United Kingdom

Fax: +44(0)117 331 4396
Web page:

Order Information: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. William E. Becker & Michael Watts, 2001. "Teaching Methods in U.S. Undergraduate Economics Courses," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(3), pages 269-279, January.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:che:ireepp:v:5:y:2006:i:2:p:29-57. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Martin Poulter)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.