Create a System Improvement Map

The system improvement map is an analytic tool representing how an institution is organized to carry out work in a particular area. The formal organizations of an institution can be thought of as a set of interacting subsystems that operate at multiple levels. For educational institutions such as school districts and colleges, the subsystems most germane for student success consist of:

  • Instructional Core (i.e.,  courses, programs of study, and various materials and technologies to support this)
  • Human Resources subsystem (provides staff to teach and support the core)
  • Information Infrastructure (collects and organizes data to guide and manage institutional activity)
  • Academic, social-behavioral, and psychological support services
  • Institutional Governance (budgeting, financial aid, internal policy-making, external relations)

Mapping these subsystems provides a conceptual organizes for the system improvement map.

The map also parses the organization of schooling into levels at which education activity occurs (i.e., classroom, internal college organization, external institutions and professional fields).

The aim is to map the essential organizational features that are most likely to manifest themselves as improvement work proceeds.

Step 1: Identify the most pertinent subsystems for a particular improvement initiative

  • Examples: instructional system, human resources system, information infrastructure, student support system, governance (affects all systems)

Step 2: From the identified subsystems, identify pertinent challenge areas for each based on three levels: instructional, institutional, system/field

  • Example:
    • Instructional:
      • Articulating learning goals (relevance & value)
      • Revisiting student & faculty beliefs about learning mathematics
      • Developing and embracing evidence-based instructional design
      • Strengthening curricular pacing & coherence for student learning
    • Institutional:
      • Guiding student placement & program of study
      • Ideating the social organization of instruction
      • Minimizing course sequence hurdles
    • System/Field:
      • Smoothing the path 1: HS-CC alignment
      • Smoothing the path 2: transfer requirements

Was this article helpful?
0 out of 0 found this helpful
Have more questions? Submit a request


Please sign in to leave a comment.