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More Than a Network: Building Professional Communities for Educational Improvement


by Jonathan R. Dolle, Louis M. Gomez, Jennifer Lin Russell & Anthony S. Bryk — 2013

This chapter is a case study of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Pathways™ program. The goal of the Statway®™ and Quantway®™ pathways is to improve the success rate of community college students who place into developmental mathematics. What makes these programs unique is their strategy of building a particular kind of professional network, what Carnegie refers to as a Networked Improvement Community (NIC), to organize and lead an array of continuous improvement processes. NICs are a social mechanism through which the collaborative designs and practical theories produced by design-based implementation research (DBIR) can become live resources for the improvement of systems. NICs are comprised of highly structured groups of education professionals, working in collaboration with designers and researchers, to address a practical problem. Driver diagrams are introduced as a tool for organizing the improvement work of NICs. After briefly describing several drivers behind the Pathways program, the chapter details the main elements of the network organization driver as a distinct approach to building communities aimed at improving education.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 112. No. 2.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 115 Number 14, 2013, p. 443-463
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18362, Date Accessed: 12/12/2017 10:44:12 AM

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About the Author
  • Jonathan Dolle
    Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
    E-mail Author
    JONATHAN R. DOLLE is research associate for Network Initiation, Development, and Evaluation at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. His current work focuses on accelerating the development of networked improvement communities and leading the foundation’s evaluation efforts. As a Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow, Dolle staffed the recently released National Research Council report, Using Science as Evidence in Public Policy (2012). His book, Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education: Liberal Learning for the Profession (2011) with Anne Colby, Thomas Ehrlich, and William M. Sullivan, was selected to receive the Frederic W. Ness Book Award by the Association of American Colleges & Universities.
  • Louis M. Gomez
    University of California Los Angeles
    LOUIS M. GOMEZ is a professor and MacArthur Chair in Digital Media and Learning at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. He is also a senior fellow at The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. His scholarship focuses on understanding how to catalyze organizational change in schools and other institutions that improves the life chances of learners. Among his recent publications are “Getting Ideas into Action: Building Networked Improvement Communities in Education” (2011, Frontiers in Sociology of Education) with Alicia Grunow and Anthony Bryk and “Creating Social Relationships: The Role of Technology in Pre-Service Teacher Preparation” (2008, Journal of Teacher Education) with Miriam Sherin, Jacqueline Griesdorn, and Lou-Ellen Finn.
  • Jennifer Russell
    University of Pittsburgh
    E-mail Author
    JENNIFER LIN RUSSELL is an assistant professor of education policy and organizations in the School of Education and a research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research examines policy and other educational improvement initiatives through an organizational perspective. Recent publications include “From Child’s Garden to Academic Press: The Role of Shifting Institutional Logics in Redefining Kindergarten Education” (2011, American Educational Research Journal), and “Crafting Coherence from Complex Policy Messages: Educators’ Perceptions of Special Education and Standards-Based Accountability Policies (2013, Education Policy Analysis Archives) with L. E. Bray.
  • Anthony Bryk
    Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
    E-mail Author
    ANTHONY S. BRYK is the ninth president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, where he is leading work on transforming educational research and development, more closely joining researchers and practitioners to improve teaching and learning. Formerly, he held the Spencer Chair in Organizational Studies in the School of Education and the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University from 2004 until assuming Carnegie’s presidency in September 2008. His deep interest in bringing scholarship to bear on improving schooling is reflected in his 2005 book, Trust in Schools: A Core Resource for Improvement, and most recently, Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago (2009).
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