San José Gateway PhD Program ‘Exceptional Experience,’ Alum Says


The San José State University School of Library and Information Science (SJSU SLIS) and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) celebrate the achievement of the most recent graduate of the San José Gateway PhD program. Virginia Tucker, a full-time lecturer at SJSU SLIS, successfully completed the international doctoral program in February 2013.

The doctoral program is a partnership between SJSU SLIS and QUT, one of Australia’s top research institutions. The strengths of both programs made for an “exceptional experience,” Tucker said. “Also important was being able to study at QUT and with my advisor at San José. It was the best of two research worlds.”

Tucker, who also works part time as a county law librarian, added that the program’s combination of online learning and semi-annual residencies was perfect for her and accommodated her work and family obligations.

The research for her dissertation “provides a deep understanding of the transformative learning experiences involved in the acquisition of search expertise,” she said. Her work explored learning experiences of professional searchers and highly proficient novices, arriving at “an integrated model of search expertise that comprises searcher attributes and threshold concepts.”

“The research contributes to understanding search expertise in the context of today’s information environment, and has implications for current models of search experience, instruction in advanced search, research in library and information science education, and methodologies used to explore threshold concepts,” Tucker said.

She’s currently working on several writing projects that build on her doctoral research. Asked about her future plans, Tucker said, “I am continuing to explore search experiences, and also looking into other areas within library and information science where the theoretical framework of threshold concepts may help us better understand critical knowledge and transformational learning experiences.”

The fully online courses Tucker teaches in the Master of Library and Information Science program at SJSU SLIS include online searching, information retrieval and the LIBR 289 e-portfolio capstone. In 2011, she received the SLIS Outstanding Lecturer Award.

Tucker is the fifth individual to earn a doctorate through the San José Gateway PhD Program, which admitted its first doctoral students in 2008.

Related Content: