Townsend, L., Hofer, A. R., Hanick, S. L., & Brunetti, K. (2016). Identifying threshold concepts for information literacy: A Delphi study. Communications in Information Literacy, 10(1), 23-49. http://www.comminfolit.org/index.php?journal=cil&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=v10i1p23&path%5B%5D=228
Select one of the options below to complete this activity.
The Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (the Standards) gave librarians, faculty, and students a clear definition of what makes an information literate student. The Framework has done away with the Standards’ checklist approach to outlining information literacy and replaced it with “conceptual understandings.” These conceptual understandings are made up of “essential concepts and questions” and threshold concepts. Townsend, Hofer, Hanick, and Brunetti (2016), state, “Threshold concepts… are core ideas and processes in a discipline that students need to grasp in order to progress in their learning, but that are often unspoken or unrecognized by expert practitioners” (p.24). The work of these authors was used as the basis of the Framework’s conceptual understandings. While not quite as easy to understand or communicate, many have found that threshold concepts are more versatile to integrate in instruction due to their flexibility rather than the “prescriptive-ness” of the Standards.
Post a response to your reading and reflection in the Comments section below. Here are a few optional questions to guide your thinking:
- What side of the fence are you on when it comes to outlining priorities in information literacy education – threshold concept or checklist?
- What other ideas do you have for developing a document to guide instruction besides these two options?
- Do you think the threshold concepts identified by the Delphi study are the best concepts to include in the Framework? What would you add or take away?
- How would/does your approach differ when developing curriculum maps and/or instruction sessions using the Framework’s threshold concepts vs. the Standards’ checklist?
- How do you avoid turning the Framework into a repackaging of the Standards? Is simply repackaging the Standards a bad thing?
- What excites you about threshold concepts? What makes you wary of threshold concepts?
Investigate the threshold concepts of a discipline you liaison with and/or deliver instruction sessions for. Take note of any areas of overlap that you notice between the disciplinary and IL Framework threshold concepts, as well as any ways that IL instruction could help students “cross the threshold” in their disciplines.
Here are some options, though we suggest you take a look in the literature for yourself:
Loertscher, J., Green, D., Lewis, J.E., Lin, S., & Minderhout, V. (2014). Identification of threshold concepts for biochemistry. CBE – Life Sciences Education, 13(3), 516-528. doi: 10.1187/cbe.14-04-0066 http://www.lifescied.org/content/13/3/516.full
Davies, P. & Mangan, J. (2007). Threshold concepts and the integration of understanding in economics. Studies in Higher Education, 32(6), 711-726. doi: 10.1080/03075070701685148 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03075070701685148 [paywall]
Harlow, A., Scott, J., Peter, M., & Cowie, B. (2011). ‘Getting stuck’ in analogue electronics: Threshold concepts as an explanatory model. European Journal of Engineering Education, 36(5), 435-447. doi: 10.1080/03043797.2011.606500 http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5731
Wright, A.L. & Glimore, A. (2012). Threshold concepts and conceptions: Student learning in introductory management courses. Journal of Management Education, 36(5), 614-635. doi: 10.1177/1052562911429446 http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/suppl/10.1177/1052562911429446 [paywall]
Breen, S. & O’Shea, A. (2016). Threshold concepts and undergraduate mathematics teaching. PRIMUS, 26(9), 837-847. doi: 10.1080/10511970.2016.1191573 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10511970.2016.1191573?journalCode=upri20 [paywall]
Williams, P.D. (2014, April). What’s politics got to do with it? ‘Power’ as a ‘threshold’ concept for undergraduate business students. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 54(1), 8-29. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1031000.pdf
Women’s and Gender Studies
Launius, C. & Hassel, H. (2015). Threshold concepts in women’s and gender studies: Ways of seeing, thinking, and knowing. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. https://www.amazon.com/Threshold-Concepts-Womens-Gender-Studies/dp/1138788805 [summary only]
Post a response to your reading and reflection in the Comments section below. What did you read? In what ways does your knowledge of these disciplinary threshold concepts allow you to better implement the Framework within the discipline and/or better assist students within the discipline?