Critique of an Improvement Effort
Assignment due in class October 15th
Please write a 4-5 page critique of an organizational improvement effort (ideally one in which you have been involved or one for which you can get some information on its implementation). The critiques should draw on the readings and discussions from the first part of the course to succinctly analyze some of the successes and problems with an improvement effort. The critique could be in the form of a paper/essay or a memo to those involved in the effort. Other creative formats are also welcome, but, in general, the final product should include:
- A brief description of the effort:
What specific changes/improvements/reforms are proposed? (Here you may want to focus in on one specific aspect of the changes or a small set, and you may want to consider those that have both some positive and negative aspects)
- A discussion of your view of the theory of action underlying the effort:
What is the theory of action (either stated explicitly or implied) that will lead to those changes? E.g. How is it supposed to work?
- An analysis of what happened and/or your predictions about what might happen: What changed? What didn’t? How would two or three of the authors we are reading this semester explain why it played out this way or why it might play out this way in the future?
- A discussion of the implications:
Based on your analysis, what are your suggestions about how the effort could have been improved, might be improved in the future, or should be changed if something like it is attempted again? Why? What’s your reasoning behind these suggestions?
Those who have never been involved in an educationally-related improvement effort, may, with the permission of the instructor, focus on another improvement initiative (such as the design or implementation of a particular policy, reform approach, or reform program).
In either case, the point of the critique is to apply what you are learning from the class about why initiatives, reforms, and new policies and practices are and aren’t working. (In other words, don’t just report on what happened or just review what others have said about similar efforts.)
All papers should be double-spaced with standard margins in APA style. Please bring two hard copies of the paper to class and post it to the reform critiques folder in Blackboard.
Suggestions/guidelines for critiques of improvement efforts
You may find that there is more to critique if you select an initiative, school, program, or policy that:
- Affected a significant percentage of people within an organization/school
- Seems to be “working” well in some ways and not working well in others
- (If possible) you have experienced personally (or where you know someone who has experienced it…)
- Avoid simplistic explanations (it was the principal’s fault; there wasn’t enough money or time etc.)
- Make connections to larger systemic issues and issues we’ve addressed in the course (e.g. don’t just explain why something worked in your case; explain why it worked in your case, but doesn’t work in many others)