Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Threshold Concepts & Librarians - ACRL, Tucker, & Akerlind

Listened to the ACRL webinar on Threshold concepts Wednesday, April 23. The things which caught my attention:
  • students as content creators & curators
  • supports our (librarians') conversations with faculty teaching & learning centers
  • encourages collaboration between librarians & classroom faculty
  • we need to creatively re-do our single library research sessions: e.g., teach where info comes from in a database & why it's there instead of searching techniques
  • WHERE design by Wiggins & McTighe* sounds like contemplative T&L
  • new definition of IL - much better
  • no learning outcomes, only an outline of threshold concepts
  • re-envision what we librarians can do
  • not aimed at first-year students (except in high-impact learning experiences)
*(Wiggins, Grant and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. 1999)


Tucker, Virginia Miller. (2012). Acquiring search expertise: Learning experiences and threshold concepts. PhD Thesis.‎  or

Tucker explored threshold concepts among librarians as searchers. Her work is relevant to the work I've been doing with Leek and Veenstra: for redesigning courses, Akerlind et al "looked not only at student learning outcomes but also at the impact on the thinking and practice of the participant teachers (Akerlind 2012). The decoding-the-disciplines model also provides step-by-step guidance for course design that may be applied (Pace and Middendorf, 2004: Díaz & Pace, 2012)" (261).

Tucker also wrote, "LIS professionals are concerned with competencies that will endure. Threshold concept theory provides a robust framework for studying conceptual knowledge that is independent of shifting technologies" (269).

Follow up with these!

Akerlind, G., McKenzie, J., and Lupton, M. (2011). Final report: A threshold concepts focus to curriculum design: Supporting student learning through application of variation theory [PDF document]. Retrieved from
(in Threshold Concepts folder)

Coonan, Emma. "Teaching and Learning: Perceptions of Information Literacy."
a.k.a. Secker, Jane & Emma Coonan. A New Curriculum for Information Literacy:  transitional▪ transferable ▪ transformational: CURRICULUM AND SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS. Arcadia Project, Cambridge University Library, July 2011.
(in Threshold Concepts folder)

Dìaz, A., Middendorf, J., Pace, D., & Shopkow, L. (2011). Definition of Decoding the Disciplines. Retrieved from:

Middendorf, J., & Pace, D. (Eds.). (2004). Decoding the Disciplines: Helping students learn disciplinary ways of thinking. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 98. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.        (Requested via MEL)


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