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Information Literacy: Threshold Concepts: Home

The traits and behaviors of the contemporary information literate person.

Threshold Concepts

Threshold Concepts are a mode of teaching and learning develped by Jan Meyer and Ray Land. They 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." In Practice, threshold concepts are transformative, integrative, irreversible, bounded, and occasionally troublesome.

From Meyer, J. & Land, R. (2003). Threshold Concepts and troublesome knoledge:  Linkages to the ways of thinking and practising within the disciplines (TEL Project Occasional Report 4). Edinburgh:  Enhancing Teaching-Learning in Undergraduate Courses Project.

Information Literacy

According to LEAP, via the National Forum on Information Literacy, it is "The ability to know when there is a need for information, to be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively and responsibly use and share that information for the problem at hand. "

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) defines it as follows:

Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." Information literacy also is increasingly important in the contemporary environment of rapid technological change and proliferating information resources. Because of the escalating complexity of this environment, individuals are faced with diverse, abundant information choices--in their academic studies, in the workplace, and in their personal lives. Information is available through libraries, community resources, special interest organizations, media, and the Internet--and increasingly, information comes to individuals in unfiltered formats, raising questions about its authenticity, validity, and reliability. In addition, information is available through multiple media, including graphical, aural, and textual, and these pose new challenges for individuals in evaluating and understanding it. The uncertain quality and expanding quantity of information pose large challenges for society. The sheer abundance of information will not in itself create a more informed citizenry without a complementary cluster of abilities necessary to use information effectively.

Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning.

The Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education

These six Threshold Concepts were developed by a committee of academic librarians over several years. They are designed to focus on fundamental ideas about the contemporary information ecosystem.

  • Authority is Constructed and Contextual
  • Information Creation as a Process
  • Information Has Value
  • Research as Inquiry
  • Scholarship as conversation
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration