LOEX Conference Proceedings 2009

Document Type

Off the Beaten Path

Publication Date



The sun beat down on a high, lonesome hilltop in Hayward... where three librarians at Cal State East Bay were redesigning a credit-bearing first-year Information Literacy course in order to move the content online. They reckoned that creating this online hootenanny would require rustling up some fresh lessons and activities and distilling the class down to a few essential learning objectives, based on ACRL standards. One librarian thundered into town with talk of "threshold concepts," a pedagogical strategy developed by Jan Meyer and Ray Land. Could threshold concepts serve as a lasso for students to snare a deeper understanding of what it means to be "information literate?"

Threshold concepts, as described by Meyer and Land, transform and integrate the learner's view of content; though potentially troublesome, they bring insight into how to think like a practitioner within a discipline. In this presentation, we propose threshold concepts for our discipline -- information literacy -- and describe how these concepts were used to redesign a credit-bearing information literacy course. We intend this presentation to serve as the beginning of a conversation with other librarian teachers about threshold concepts and how we might use them to rethink IL teaching and outreach.

As a result of attending this session, participants will be able to:

- Define threshold concepts and understand their application in teaching and learning.

- Recognize the potential of threshold concepts to transform information literacy instruction.

- Participate in a conversation about where our students experience thresholds while learning IL.