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Effectively integrating information literacy: A conversation about threshold concepts and collaborations


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Presented at the 2014 Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy in February 2014, Blacksburg, VA.

Presented at the 2014 Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy in February 2014, Blacksburg, VA.

Published in: Education

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  • 1. Effectively Integrating Information Literacy: A Conversation about Threshold Concepts and Collaborations Rebecca K. Miller and Sara M. Crickenberger, Virginia Tech Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy | February 7, 2014
  • 2. 2 Conversation Overview • Who we are • Who you are • Conversation Session Objectives: • Explain threshold concepts and information literacy (IL) threshold concepts • Describe an example of how IL threshold concepts can be effectively integrated into a course • Explore threshold concepts in course and assignment design
  • 3. Threshold Concepts Introduced by Jan Meyer & Ray Land (2003): Threshold concepts are the core ideas and processes that define the ways of thinking and practicing for a discipline, but are so ingrained that they often go unspoken or unrecognized by practitioners (Townsend, Brunetti, & Hofer, 2011, p. 854) 3
  • 4. Criteria • Criteria for threshold concepts (Meyer & Land, 2003) • Transformative – causes a shift in perspective • Integrative – brings together separate concepts • Irreversible – once grasped, cannot be ungrasped • Troublesome – may be counterintuitive • Bounded – helps define boundaries of a discipline, or may be unique to a discipline 4
  • 5. Examples • Physics: Heat transfer • Biology: Evolution • Mathematics: Limits • Literary and Cultural Studies: Signification • Economics: Opportunity cost 5
  • 6. Threshold Concepts in IL • Hofer, Townsend, and Brunetti (2012) • Metadata = findability • Good searches use database structure • Format is a process • Authority is constructed and contextual • “Primary source” is an exact and conditional category • Information as a commodity • Research solves problems 6
  • 7. Why? Threshold concepts can help librarians devise targeted curricula by prioritizing trouble spots…. Learners who cross these thresholds are well positioned for academic inquiry. (Hofer, Townsend, & Brunetti, 2012, p. 403) 7
  • 8. Our Example • English 1106 at Virginia Tech • Instructor + Librarian collaboration • Information Literacy Threshold Concepts • Research solves problems • …and others 8
  • 9. Adult Learning • Collaborative • Problem based • Relevant • Immediate/goal oriented • Reinforcement • Practical 9
  • 10. English 1106: Writing from Research • Collaborative learning process • Traditional collaborators: Students + Instructor • Missing partner: The research expert • Ideal collaboration = Students + Instructor + Research Librarian 10
  • 11. Problem Based • First session • Library environment new/foreign for many • Eases students into research • Students reach basic level of understanding/competence • Works for initial involvement/first projects • Second session • Stakes ramped up to biggest research project of semester • Factors in place to bring students to deeper level of learning • Opportunity to cross threshold 11
  • 12. Key Factors • Relevant: Research is extremely relevant to problem in front of student • Immediate/goal oriented: Second session is right time to deepen skills/understanding of key concepts, facing finite deadline, definite goal • Reinforcement: Classroom session reinforces, builds on skills introduced, used earlier • Practical: Using students’ laptops simulates their normal research environment 12
  • 13. The Threshold • Crossing the threshold • Internal motivation • Self direction • Both are key factors for adult learners • Those who are willing to go deeper have the opportunity and the resources 13
  • 14. Motivation Motivation • Ultimately learners must be internally motivated • Some lack motivation to cross threshold, are satisfied with surface-level skills, enough to meet basic requirements Strategies to enhance motivation • Allow students to research/write about topics that excite them, capitalize on life experiences, prior knowledge, existing/personal interests • Positive reinforcement, including peer review, opportunities to revise, assessment 14
  • 15. Success What success is • Increased understanding about what a quality research source is • Ability to find appropriate sources that solve research problem What success looks like • More research sources • More high-quality (peer-reviewed) sources • Fewer low-quality electronic sources • The bottom line: stronger research projects/papers 15
  • 16. Conversation: Question 1 • Do you see any value in threshold concepts? Why or why not? 16
  • 17. Conversation: Question 2 • Which information literacy (IL) threshold concepts seem particularly relevant to your disciplines and your classrooms? 17
  • 18. Conversation: Question 3 • How would you integrate any relevant IL threshold concepts into your teaching? 18
  • 19. Conversation: Question 4 • Can you identify any on-campus partners who might be able to assist and support you in integrating IL threshold concepts into your teaching? 19
  • 20. Conversation: Question 5 • What questions do you still have about IL threshold concepts, or threshold concepts in general? 20
  • 21. Further Reading • Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Retrieved from • Hofer, A. R., Townsend, L., & Brunetti, K. (2012). Troublesome concepts and information literacy: Investigating threshold concepts for IL instruction. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 12(4), 387-405. • Meyer, J. H. F. & Land, R. (2003). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: Linkages to new ways of thinking and practicing within the disciplines. ETL Project Report. Retrieved from • Meyer, J. H. F & Land, R. (2006). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: An introduction. In J. H. F. Meyer & R. Land (Eds.), Overcoming barriers to student understanding: Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge (pp. 19-32). London: Routledge. • Townsend, L., Brunetti, K., & Hofer, A. R. (2011). Threshold concepts and information literacy. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 11(3), 853-869. 21
  • 22. Contact Us Rebecca K. Miller, University Libraries Sara M. Crickenberger, Dept. of English 22