Improvement Science in Education and Beyond Series
The Improvement Science Dissertation in Practice
A Guide for Faculty, Committee Members, and their Students
Published: May 2020
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Published: May 2020
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Published: July 2020

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Published: July 2020
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6" x 9"
Language: English

The Improvement Science Dissertation in Practice provides a narrative and illustration about the purpose and features comprising the Dissertation in Practice and how this culminating experience is well suited to using Improvement Science as a signature methodology for preparing professional practitioners. This methodology, when combined with the Dissertation in Practice experience in EdD programs, reinforces practitioner learning about and skills for leadership and change. As a guide, the book is an extremely valuable resource that supports faculty, students, and practitioners in the application of Improvement Science to pressing educational problems in a structured, disciplined way.

CPED Initiative Fireside Chat with Jill Perry:

To learn more about Improvement Science and see our full list of books in this area, please click through to the Myers Education Press Improvement Science website.

Perfect for courses such as: Educational Leadership, Research Methods, The Dissertation Process, Dissertation Writing and Research, and Thesis and Dissertation

Table of Contents:


List of Figures and Tables



Chapter 1.
Designing a Professional Practice Doctorate

Chapter 2.
New Mindsets and a New Dissertation Frame

Chapter 3.
Actionable Problems of Practice

Chapter 4.
Reviewing the Literature: A Critical Skill

Chapter 5.
Drive Diagrams and a Theory of Improvement

Chapter 6.
Developing Improvement Measures

Chapter 7.
Testing the Theory/Change and Final Write Up

Chapter 8.
Implications: Challenges and Lessons Learned

About the Authors


Reviews & Endorsements:

“Though other books and publications exist that present and discuss improvement science (many of which are cited throughout the series), the Improvement Science in Education series exhibits the most comprehensive coverage of improvement science currently available. Crow, Hinnant-Crawford, and Spaulding have curated a collection of books that showcases the breadth and depth of improvement science appealing to a variety of audiences, regardless of backgrounds, expertise, and readiness levels. . . Certainly, improvement science is a challenging undertaking, but this series empowers those ready and willing to try.”

Review by Christopher Benedetti for Impacting Education: Journal on Transforming Professional Practice, Vol. 8 No. 3 (2023)

“…this book is an essential, easy to read text, for those teaching in EdD programs, leading EdD programs, and for students in these programs and considering them as part of their future. It is relevant for this moment in time in America, and globally, to ensure our PK-12 schools serve all of our kids, and our EdD programs set up the leaders who work in PK-12, higher education, non-profits, community organizations, and all of the spaces where we must collaborate to build the education present and future we needed centuries ago and need today.” (See full review in Impacting Education, Vol. 7, No. 3, [2022])

“The authors of this volume are among the pioneers who sought to embed improvement science in the doctoral preparation of educational professionals. In this book, their experience shows. This is not just a book that justifies the use of improvement science tools in the scholarly practice of education. This book shows how those tools can be used to engage in the work of improving educational systems, and how such work can yield a culminating product of learning that demonstrates the rigor required to address real problems in authentic contexts.”

Rick McCown, PhD, Professor & Pierre Schouver, C.S.Sp. Endowed Chair in Mission, Duquesne University

“Once I picked this book up, I couldn’t put it down. The Improvement Science Dissertation in Practice is a critical read for any university or dissertation committee member wanting to separate from meaningless traditional dissertation practices and instead prepare their EdD candidates to lead and improve complex educational organizations. The book skillfully explicates how the EdD, with an improvement science focus, is rigorous, scientific—and most importantly—supports school leaders in the real-life work of improving their schools and districts. The concepts are riveting, compelling—and practical.”

Dr. Deborah S. Peterson, Associate Professor, Portland State University

“…the Improvement Science Dissertation in Practice: A Guide for Faculty, Committee Members, and their Students provides a unique addition to the information available for those engaged in ISDiPs. The format is easily accessible; the breadth of the process steps, examples, and tools support both faculty, committee members, and students to deliver improved research products. Consequently, this work has the potential to improve outcomes in practice.” [Read the full review in Impacting Education: Journal on Transforming Professional Practice, 6(4).]

Jacqueline Hawkins and Monica L. Martens, University of Houston, reviewed in Impacting Education: Journal on Transforming Professional Practice, 6(4), 10-19-21

“Addressing the needs of the scholar-practitioner doctorate, Perry, Zambo, and Crowe provide an invaluable resource to guide faculty and students’ implementation of the Dissertation in Practice. Expanding extensively on improvement science fundamentals that support the teaching and scholarship of the EdD, this important book provides clear principles and guidance for improvement science dissertations in practice that support the journey of all scholarly practitioners.”

Elizabeth C. Reilly, Chair & Professor, Loyola Marymount University

“The tools in this book will help you design a model for rapid personal and organizational change. Our group dissertation in practice took our research beyond the written page and allowed us to apply improvement science to benefit my institution. If you are looking for means to transform educational systems, you’ve found them.”

Brandon Smith, EdD, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Student Success, Brevard College

“This work is OUTSTANDING! It is a must read for anyone seeking to understand, redesign, or initiate an Educational Doctorate program in Higher Education. The authors effectively ‘demystify’ the EdD process in an effort to proactively produce the next generation of educational leaders, change agents if you will, capable of leading change for schools across the educational spectrum. This work is essential for anyone interested in the Educational Doctorate.”

Dr. Reginald Wilkerson, Assistant Professor–Clemson University

“Whether we call it improvement science, design-based school improvement, or continuous quality improvement, a logic of organizational development has recently migrated from other industries or fields of work into education that promises to efficiently structure collective improvement efforts and generate new knowledge in partnerships between educational organizations and universities. Doctoral programs in education, leading to an EdD, in which students enmeshed in practice prepare to become strong decision makers and problem solvers at the system level, are a prime site for these partnerships. Here researchers, university-based instructors, and school practitioners meet to jointly develop new knowledge in practice. In this new logic, the EdD dissertation becomes a boundary object between the worlds of university-based research and practice. The book by Perry, Zambo, and Crow does an excellent job in showing the field what faculty and students might need to do to create a dissertation in this new logic. It conceptualizes this type of dissertation by drawing from the knowledge base on professional programs in the field of education; it guides the reader through the essential steps of framing problems, conducting causal analyses, and marshalling the power of change drivers; to end up with a discussion of practical measures that ascertain the success of improvement efforts. The book is a vital source for all those in search for rigorous and practical ways of improving educational organizations and utilizing the education doctorate to get closer to this aim.”

Rick Mintrop, Professor, University of California, Berkeley Author of the book Design-Based School Improvement