How to Scale Transformative Change

by Marianne Peacock / Feb 27, 2015

Since 2012, the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) and The Collaboratory have partnered to create the Transformative Change Initiative (TCI). TCI endorses the use of guiding principles that support the scaling of transformative change in the community college context. These principles do not dictate action, but rather enable informed decision making about innovation and reform. They reflect theory about scaling, while also integrating the practical advice of community college educators and partners.

Using a principle-driven approach is vital to systemic change, so this is the approach used by TCI.  Rather than selecting and  implementing reforms from a menu, a principle-driven approach emphasizes understanding the interaction between context, change, and results on a deep level.  Individuals who know the complexity of their settings and understand the diverse student populations who enroll in their programs appreciate the way a principle-driven approach helps to sustain and scale innovation. Under TCI, guiding principles create a blueprint for scaling innovation that results in more equitable outcomes for diverse learners, including enhanced education, economic, and social impact.

Based on initial research, the TCI team introduced a set of seven guiding principles for scaling innovation at the TCI Learning Lab in Orlando in 2014. During the summer of 2014, the team engaged practitioners in reviewing and revising these principles to ensure they reflect actual practice—what community college practitioners and their partners are seeing and doing day-to-day to scale change. The new set of eight guiding principles for scaling was presented at the TCI Learning Lab 2015 in Baltimore. The newly revised guiding principles follow:

Leadership: Scaling of transformative change will occur when leaders envision, encourage, and support innovation that supports all learners.

Adoption and Adaptation: Scaling of transformative change will occur when adoption and adaptation honor and influence the cultures of the settings involved.

Evidence: Scaling of transformative change will occur when evidence collected through ongoing and responsive evaluation is used strategically.

Storytelling: Scaling of transformative change will occur if storytelling is used to facilitate learning about innovation and transformative change.

Networks: Scaling of transformative change will occur when individuals engage in networks to gain access to expertise, professional development, and other vital resources.

Dissemination: Scaling of transformative change will occur when dissemination is led by individuals with deep knowledge of their settings.

Technology: Scaling of transformative change will occur when effective and appropriate technology is used to strengthen resources and expertise.

Spread and Endurance: Scaling of transformative change will occur when innovations are chosen for scaling that show the potential to spread and endure.

By definition, transformative change is an evolving process. We expect that this set of guiding principles will continue to change as OCCRL researchers study the ways community colleges spread and sustain innovations in the future. What we are learning about scaling will help community colleges and their partners to engage in reform that has a lasting impact on students and other stakeholders. Lessons will be shared with the TCI network and others who seek more equitable educational outcomes for all students.