Carnegie Commons Blog

You’re Invited to Learn About the Use of Improvement Science and Networked Improvement Communities in Education

For the past five years, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has been pioneering a fundamentally new vision for the research and development enterprise in education.

We seek to join together the discipline of improvement science with the capabilities of networks specifically designed to foster innovation and social learning. This approach is embodied in what Carnegie refers to as Networked Improvement Communities (NIC). These NICs are scientific learning communities distinguished by four essential characteristics:

  • focused on a well specified common aim,
  • guided by a deep understanding of the problem and the system that produces it,
  • disciplined by the rigor of improvement research, and
  • networked together to accelerate the development and testing of possible improvements, their more rapid diffusion, and effective integration into the highly varied contexts that is education in America.

While there remains much more to be learned about networked improvement communities in education, evidence is beginning to accumulate regarding their benefits for development, implementation, and improvement. Carnegie’s experience to date with NICs has not only demonstrated this to be true, it has also provided evidence of significant impact on longstanding and seemingly intractable problems (most notably, for example, the problem of inordinately high failure rates of community college students in developmental mathematics).

Explorer’s Workshop

The Explorer’s Workshop offers a first engagement with the ideas of improvement science pursued in the context of NICs. Lasting two days, it includes a “boot camp” introduction to improvement science, including problem definition and specification, systems analysis, measurement and analytics, change theory, and improvement research as well as the principles behind the organization, initiation, and support of NICs. It s intended for those interested in but not deeply knowledgeable about this work.

Who should attend?

The Workshop is designed to support teams from projects considering adoption of a NIC approach as well as individuals wishing to learn more about this strategy for accelerating learning in and through the practice to improve.


The next Workshop will be at the Carnegie Foundation in Stanford, California, March 7 – 8, 2013. The cost for the workshop is $1500, with some meals and a reception included.

Workshop Registration

Registration will begin mid-January, but to “pre-register” or for more information, email Gay Clyburn at