R is for Replicating Impact

Day six of the September SCALERS series: 

Replicating: “the effectiveness with which the organization can reproduce the programs and initiatives that it has originated.” (Bloom & Chatterji, 2009)

This piece was originally published on the blog Accelerating Achievement and is bring reprinted with permission. Accelerating Achievement features news and research from the Developmental Education Initiative, an effort by MDC, a nonprofit in Chapel Hill, N.C., to scale up effective remedial education practices at community colleges and states that were early participants in Achieving the Dream, a national community college reform effort. DEI is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.


SCALERS Series: R is for Replicating Impact

“Replicating impact” means developing and maintaining institutional expertise and commitment as you scale up a program. This driver is an important part of sustainability planning and broader institutional improvement. Maintaining quality while scaling up effective programs is part of the college getting better at what it does.

Consider your college’s track record at expanding interventions in the past:

  • How do you capture organizational learning?
  • What is your system for process improvement?
  • How do you involve the individuals responsible for implementing the strategy in learning and process improvement?  

Some of this learning will be gleaned from your analysis of program outcome data, as discussed in the demonstrating impact post, but your institution should make space for interpretation of these data and integration with qualitative information.

To ensure the continuous improvement of your expanded strategy, you will need to systematically approach professional development. Expectations for participation in professional development should be clearly communicated to everyone involved in program delivery and management. Another essential piece is a plan to capture learning—both program and process-related—that can be incorporated into an existing continuous improvement strategy. Such knowledge development can actually be part of professional development, encouraging those who are implementing the strategy to innovate. The college should compare pre- and post-expansion data and take time to consider necessary modification. All of these processes and relationships will incorporate parts of other SCALERS drivers, including staffingcommunicating and sustaining engagement.

The Faculty Inquiry Group model from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an example of an approach to professional development that sets the stage for continuous learning.  As defined by the Foundation, faculty inquiry is:

“…a form of professional development by which teachers identify and investigate questions about their students’ learning. The inquiry process is ongoing, informed by evidence of student learning, and undertaken in a collaborative setting. Findings from the process come back in the form of new curricula, new assessments, and new pedagogies, which in turn become subjects for further inquiry.”

Danville Community College has employed this model in their Developmental Education Initiative work, convening faculty inquiry groups to pursue curriculum alignment among local high schools, adult basic ed programs, dev ed faculty, and college-level faculty. The groups have also proved vital to the college’s response to major dev ed redesign efforts led by the Virginia Community College System.