Headshot of Dr. Troy A. Swanson

What’s the big idea?! Incorporating Threshold Concepts Keynote (post by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson) 1


Amy Hofer, Sylvia Lu, and Lori Townsend’s keynote at the 2015 Information Literacy Summit (Illinois). They discuss their research and thinking about information literacy threshold concepts, which underlie ACRL’s Information Literacy Framework for Higher Education. The IL Summit is a partnership between the Moraine Valley Community College Library and the DePaul University Libraries.

Description: When introduced to threshold concepts, librarians usually ask “How do I use them?” Yet this question hopscotches another: “Do I understand threshold concepts and how they relate to information literacy?” Threshold concepts are themselves a threshold concept. They are transformative, integrative, irreversible, bounded, troublesome, and – importantly – they take time to traverse. With ACRL’s shift toward more conceptual teaching in the new Framework for Information Literacy, our profession needs to take time to deeply understand what this kind of teaching and learning is all about. We’ll talk about the theory of threshold concepts and making incremental moves towards conceptual teaching and assessment, including how to incorporate the work that instruction librarians already do in this arena and why traditional bibliographic instruction still has a place in our teaching repertoire.

What’s the big idea?! Incorporating Threshold Concepts into Your Teaching Practice

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Troy A. Swanson is Department Chair and Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. He is the co-editor of the recent book from ACRL, Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think About Information. You can follow him on Twitter at @t_swanson.


One thought on “What’s the big idea?! Incorporating Threshold Concepts Keynote (post by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson)

  • Nathan Filbert

    Troy – I greatly appreciate your comments here – it has struck me from the outset that indeed these “threshold” concepts constitute a significant “threshold” for the educators and librarians to incorporate before jumping to applying them… that it’s (inherently) okay (and desirable) that they constitute a process of gradual change and over-arching practice in accord with the complexity of multimedia / multimodal literacy needs in our current contexts. I appreciate your work here muchly.

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