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Introduction to Improvement Science

Nidal Abounajem
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Course Description

Introduction to Improvement Science  is a mediated online course that will familiarize participants with key concepts, strategies, and tools of improvement science. Learners will work in collaborative teams to develop their conceptual understanding of the principles and practices of improvement science as well as to build their skills to apply improvement methods to real problems of practice.


Learning Outcomes 


·       Understand the principles and practices of improvement science 

·       Engage in improvement science practice within a network of colleagues 

·       Draw upon an understanding of a problem, a study of the system in which the problem exists, a theory of practice improvement, and relevant research and practice to identify and prototype potentially high leverage changes and improvements.

·       Design tests of change.  

·       Execute, test, and refine changes  

·       Document PDSA results and learnings  

·       Use PDSA learning to inform future testing cycles (adopt, adapt, again, abandon) 

·       Spread and use improvement knowledge developed through testing to effect change at scale 


Course Delivery 

This course has 6 modules spread out over 18 weeks, including an orientation and a wrap-up webinar. For this course, you will want to allocate approximately 3-5 hours a week to work through the materials and practice using the tools of Improvement Science as a team in your context. 


Following the systematic design of each module, you will complete your individual preparations and assignments before focusing on the team activities. The estimated time commitment for each team assignment will vary with each week and is indicated on the team assignment task cards. Of course, as you work through the individual portions, we encourage you to also connect and talk with team members, other classmates, and the instructors to deepen your individual and our collective learning. 

 Module 00 Welcome to the Course: is self-directed

  • Module 01 Introduction to the Principles of Improvement Science: is self-directed
  • Module 02 Understanding the Problem & the System: uses a  combination of self-directed, small group and direct instruction in one 6-hour workshop or one 4-hour workshop and one 2 hour webinar
  • Module 03 Focusing Collective Efforts/Theory of Improvement: uses a combination of self directed, small group and direct instruction in one 6-hour workshop or one 4-hour workshop and one 2-hour webinar.
  • Module 04 Testing Changes & Building Evidence: uses a combination of  self directed, small group and direct instruction in a 4-hour workshop.
  • Module 05 Achieving Quality at Scale/Spread and Scale: is self-directed.
  • Module 06 NICs as a General Problem-Solving Approach: uses a combination of self-directed, small group and direct instruction in a 4- hour workshop (approximate worktime 7-8 hours over 2 weeks) 


Nidal AboNajm





Certificate of Completion


Delivery Mode


Registration Opening  

​​​Pilot opens on Tuesday December 7th , 2023, and closes on April 5, 2024 

Credit Hours 



Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching


Professional Development

Target Audience

Leaders, middle leaders, teachers, parents, community… can also include the level of the course… i.e. for “highly experienced leaders” or for “new teachers” … later we will add a level option to explain the level more, as the course aligns to a framework and the school improvement framework. 




Here is the course outline:

Introductory Module

Jan 11, Sharjah Education Academy

In this module, learners will be introduced to the Improvement Science course

Module 1: Introduction to The Principles of Improvement Science

Jan 16, Sharjah Education Academy

During this module, learners will get to know the answer to the essential question; What are the six core principles of improvement science?

Module 2: Understanding the Problem & the System

Module 2: Understanding the Problem & the System The module introduces the improvement case that will be used as a model throughout the course. Introduces teams to the importance of starting with the problem to solve and explores the use of various improvement tools to analyze problems and their causes. Develops a cause-and-effect diagram (also known as a fishbone or Ishikawa diagram) to represent causes of the unique problem of practice in their context. Teams will apply their team assignments to a problem of practice they identify. Participants also explore how moving quickly to identify solutions can impact the effectiveness of improvement efforts.

Module 3:Focusing Collective Efforts/Theory of Practice Improvement

Begin the transition from understanding the problem to making changes to the system to improve outcomes. Describe the characteristics of aim statements and their role in an improvement journey. Explain how a driver diagram articulates an aim, selected high-leverage drivers of that aim, and change ideas as potential improvements to the system. Recognize that change ideas come from a diverse set of resources (research, experimentation, benchmarking the practice of others, front-line workers, human-centered design processes, etc.). Embrace measurement as part of our improvement journeys.

Module 4: Testing Changes & Building Evidence​

In this module, we will cover the following ideas:​ How a driver diagram represents a shared theory of practice improvement.​ How change ideas are informed by a causal system analysis and working theory of practice improvement.​ The reasons behind iterative testing in an improvement effort.​ The roles of theory and prediction when testing change ideas.​ A system of measures for improvement. ​ The social processes and work of using improvement tools.​ How a network structure supports collective learning.

Module 5: Achieving Quality at Scale/Spread and Scale

Module 6

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