Working to improve: seven approaches to improvement science in education

Publication Date06 February 2017
AuthorPaul G. LeMahieu,Anthony S. Bryk,Alicia Grunow,Louis M. Gomez
SubjectEducation,Curriculum, instruction & assessment,Educational evaluation/assessment
Working to improve: seven
approaches to improvement
science in education
Paul G. LeMahieu, Anthony S. Bryk and Alicia Grunow
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Stanford,
California, USA, and
Louis M. Gomez
University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
This volume brings a comparative focus on seven improvement approaches that are now in
increasing use in both USA and international education settings. We explore both the
commonalities that exist among these different strategies and also highlight features that are
distinctive to each. The seven approaches are:
(1) Networked Improvement Communities;
(2) Design-Based Implementation Research;
(3) Deliverology;
(4) Implementation Science;
(5) Lean for Education;
(6) Six Sigma; and
(7) Positive Deviance.
Some of these have been around for a long time (e.g. Lean, Six Sigma), whereas others are
either more recent addition to the scene (networked improvement, design-based
implementation research and Deliverology) or just recently adapted for application in
education (Positive Deviance and implementation science).
Whether long established or newly arrived, it is clear that an appetite within the education
sector for these quality improvement approaches and tools is growing rapidly. For practicing
educators to make wise choices among these alternatives, given the particulars of some specic
situation, they need to understand better both the commonalities among these approaches and
also the distinctive purposes and strengths of each. There is a need for an understanding of each
individually and all of them collectively. This is what this volume seeks to provide.
All seven of the approaches described in this volume share a strong “common core”. All are in
a fundamental sense “scientic” in their orientation. All involve explicating hypotheses about
change and testing these improvement hypotheses against empirical evidence. Each subsumes a
specic set of inquiry methods and each aspires transparency through the application of carefully
articulated and commonly understood methods – allowing others to examine, critique and even
replicate these inquiry processes and improvement learning. In the best of cases, these
improvement approaches are genuinely scientic undertakings.
Most signicant, all seven approaches also share a common and distinctive inquiry goal.
Most educational research taxonomies (Kerlinger, 1973;Tuckman, 1974;Lewis, 1975) focus
QualityAssurance in Education
Vol.25 No. 1, 2017
©Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/QAE-12-2016-0086

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