New Book Situates Improvement Science in EdD Programs

Jill Perry, an associate professor of practice at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, has published a new book, “The Improvement Science Dissertation in Practice: A Guide for Faculty, Committee Members, and their Students.” 

The book is meant to guide higher education faculty, students, and practitioners for implementing improvement science in their educational programs. Improvement science is a research process that applies disciplined inquiry to improve professional practice. Originally, it began in the business world to improve production and transitioned into the realm of health to improve hospitals and healthcare systems.

“Improvement science provides a clear model, process, and tools for diagnosing problems and developing solutions that are user-centered and data-driven,” said Perry. “Its aim is to improve systems rapidly and learn from failure.”

The Pitt School of Education integrates improvement science into every aspect of its Doctor of Education (EdD) program. Improvement science is taught to EdD students who, in turn, utilize it in designing their scholarly research projects, which are known as Dissertations in Practice. The program faculty also use improvement science to continuously improve the EdD program itself.

“The School of Education is one of a handful of EdD programs in the U.S. that uses Improvement Science as its signature methodology,” said Perry. “Once we have some finished Dissertations in Practice, I anticipate that our students and program will serve as the model for preparing scholarly practitioners.”

Perry also shares the improvement science methodology through her role as the executive director of the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED).

CPED is a consortium of 117 Schools and Colleges of Education that work together to improve the professional preparation of educational doctoral students. Their work has developed a framework that guides the design of EdD programs across the U.S. and Canada. The School of Education serves as the international headquarters for CPED.

Perry was a graduate assistant with CPED when it started as a research project in 2007 and has remained committed to the work in the 501c3 non-profit that it is today.

“The dissertation has been a big component of the CPED work since our inception, and our members have worked to restructure that experience to support practitioner learning versus traditional PhD learning,” said Perry. “We advocate for the use of improvement science in EdD programs to prepare practitioners to learn how to improve systems continuously.”

Thanks to Perry’s efforts, the Pitt School of Education is leading the way in implementing improvement science in its EdD program.

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