The Delphi Study
Our Delphi study was published in Communications in Information Literacy in 2016. This study validates the threshold concept approach for information literacy and identifies threshold concepts for information literacy. This study is separate from and unaffiliated with the ACRL task force that used threshold concepts as one of the theories to inform the new Framework for Higher Education for Information Literacy, though our coauthor Lori was a member of the task force.
This research method is named after the Greek Oracle at Delphi because the methodology was originally conceived by the RAND corporation in the 1950s to predict the future.
A Delphi study is a qualitative research method in which a small group of experts are asked to answer questions about a topic in writing, anonymously. The answers are collected and summarized by a moderator, and then sent back to the experts. This process is called a round. In each round, experts read the responses of their peers, make adjustments to their own answers and address questions raised during the previous round. The idea is to remove undue influence caused by a person's reputation or demeanor that might influence results if the group of experts gathered together in person. As such, the best ideas rise to the top.
<small><a href="https://flic.kr/p/XfkEJ" target="_blank">"Catalan Climbers"</a> by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/" target="_blank">Steve Jurvetson</a> is licensed under <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0" target="_blank">CC BY 2.0</a></small>
"This can also be interpreted as a problem of domestication wherein the radical, transformative capacity of a concept is tamed by traditional academic assessment requirements."
- Glynis Cousin
"The challenge becomes, not finding that scarce plant growing in the desert, but finding a specific plant growing in a jungle. We are going to need help navigating that information to find the thing we actually need."
- Neil Gaiman
"The tutor chairing the summary meeting at the end of the day expressed doubts about whether such a mundane act as hand-washing could serve as a threshold concept. The students explained that hand-washing was not merely a drill, but one which betokened a different perspective on the working environment, emphasising hygiene and the possibility of cross-contamination. By learning that some ways of washing hands are more efficient than others (and how to wash in the approved way), the learner is problematising a taken-for-granted procedure and making it marker for an occupational frame of reference. To adopt the standards of hygiene required of a chef is to move beyond the lower standard expected of a consumer, and it is at this basic level that the risks and responsibilities of professional identity are initially conveyed."
Atherton, Hadfield, & Meyers, 2008