Troublesome Concepts and Information Literacy [dataset]

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Librarians regularly encounter students who struggle to understand and apply information literacy concepts. A qualitative survey administered to information literacy practitioners asked about troublesome content and analyzed results using the threshold concepts pedagogical framework first described by Jan Meyer and Ray Land. A threshold concept transforms the learner's view of content and helps integrate previously learned material; threshold concepts are portals that, once traversed, bring insight into how to think and act like a practitioner within a discipline. This project uses the data collected to propose seven threshold concepts for information literacy.


The goals of this research were to identify student stumbling blocks in information literacy through surveying information literacy instructors, and identify potential threshold concepts by analyzing these stumbling blocks for the underlying broad transformative themes using the threshold concept criteria. We used an open-ended qualitative survey to query information literacy instructors. The survey was conducted using SurveyMonkey ( Invitations to participate were posted in September 2010 to three listservs: ALA's Information Literacy Instruction Listserv, Australian Library and Information Association User Education Listserv, and the JISC Information Literacy Listserv. Files included in the dataset include the survey instrument, coding terms, raw survey data, and coded responses.


Associated Publications

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. (177 kB)
Survey instrument and data