Understanding expertise and competencies through the lens of threshold concepts

Your Name and Title:

Virginia M. Tucker, Assistant Professor

Library, School, or Organization Name:

School of Information, San José State University

Co-Presenter Name(s): n.a.

Area of the World from Which You Will Present:

Washington State, USA

Language in Which You Will Present:


Target Audience(s):

LIS educators, librarians, information professionals, LIS researchers, LIS students

Short Session Description (one line):

Understanding expertise and competencies through the lens of threshold concepts

Full Session Description:

This session presents research and its implications for educators and practitioners for understanding the learning experiences involved in expertise within the library and information science (LIS) professions. Threshold concepts (Meyer & Land, 2003) provide a framework for the characteristics of these learning experiences that are fundamental to how a person moves toward more expert understanding of a given subject or professional domain, although expertise itself is rare. The relatively new theoretical framework of threshold concepts brings a powerful lens to understanding expertise in the context of transformative learning and how learners acquire competencies necessary for a given profession. Threshold concepts have been studied within LIS for search expertise and for information literacy, gaining considerable attention recently when ACRL adopted the new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (ACRL, 2016). Discussion will extend to how we shape expectations of new LIS professionals in the form of statements of frames, standards, and competencies such as these.

Established models for novice-expert research and learning experiences will be described for context and for how they are relevant to the LIS domain, including the early work of Dreyfus and Dreyfus (1980) and Berliner (1984), and, in the recent and less academic literature, Gladwell (2013). The session will then extend to include what competency theory (Kruger & Dunning, 1999) can bring to further our understanding of how learners perceive their own levels of competence in different contexts, and the element of reflection in learning for its influences on these perceptions. The session will conclude with facilitated questions for participants framed around transformative (threshold) learning experiences involved in the acquisition of expertise, to reflect on their experiences, and open discussion on the topics covered.

Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). (2016). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. URL: http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework

Berliner, D. (1994). Expertise: The wonder of exemplary performances. In J.N. Mangieri & C.C. Block (Eds.), Creating powerful thinking in teachers and students: Diverse perspectives (pp. 141-186). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College.

Dreyfus, S.E, & Dreyfus, H. L. (1980). A five-stage model of the mental activities involved in directed skill acquisition. Technical Report ORC-80-2. University of California at Berkeley.

Gladwell, M. (2013, August). Complexity and the ten-thousand-hour rule. The New Yorker, 21 August 2013.

Tucker, V.M., Bruce, C., & Edwards, S.L. (2016). Using grounded theory to discover threshold concepts in transformative learning experiences. In: M. Tight & J. Huisman (Eds.), Theory & Method in Higher Education, Vol. 2, (pp. 23-46). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

Tucker, V.M. (2016). Learning experiences and the liminality of expertise. In: R. Land, H.F. Meyer, & M.T. Flanagan (Eds.), Threshold Concepts in Practice, (pp. 93-106). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session:


Views: 160

Reply to This


Follow #Library20

The Learning Revolution

© 2019   Created by Steve Hargadon.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service