Document Type


Presentation Date

Spring 3-26-2015

Conference Name

ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries biennial conference)

Conference Location

Portland, OR


This is a critique of the threshold concepts at the heart of the new ACRL Framework.

Models are only tools, and like all tools, will inevitably perform well in certain contexts and poorly in others. Threshold concepts are exactly and only a model/tool, and far from useless.

In a late-January post on the ACRL blog, Lori Townsend and her colleagues responded to some of the negative press threshold concepts had been receiving; in it, we were reminded how productive threshold concepts-based approaches have been in a variety of learning contexts.

My objections can be roughly corralled into two broad criticisms: 1. As it has materialized in information literacy education, the threshold concepts model appears to be spurious, and 2. The theoretical model itself is intellectually procrustean. An exploration of both of these constitutes the structure of the present study.