Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

William Flora

Committee Members

Pamela Scott, Cecil Blankenship, Stephanie Tweed


There are persistent and pervasive issues plaguing American education, and almost seventy years of educational reform efforts have failed to adequately improve educational outcomes for many of America’s children. Networked improvement communities (or NICs) are a type of social organization created to address such problems and are proposed as an effective and efficient way to organize improvement efforts. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the sensemaking experience of a newly-formed networked improvement community as members engaged in inquiry around a chosen problem of practice. During network initiation, NIC members engage in experiences to collaboratively identify and collectively articulate a central problem of practice, and these intentional inquiry processes are a critical step for newly-formed networks. The study was designed to answer the following questions about this research case:

  1. What initial understandings emerged about the networked improvement community's chosen problem of practice?
  2. How did members of a newly-formed networked improvement community begin to make sense of their organizational problem of practice through inquiry?
    • What cues triggered member sensemaking?
    • What actions propelled member sensemaking forward?

Data collection methods included the selection of naturally occurring network inquiry documents originating from member-generated student and teacher journey map experiences and corresponding member reflections and discussion via a network blog (or discussion forum). The data were analyzed utilizing both deductive and inductive strategies across multiple phases of analysis. Likewise, the data were reviewed against the study’s conceptual framework, which was based on current research on networked improvement communities and the sensemaking process. Measures of rigor were achieved through multiple strategies, including triangulation, disconfirming evidence, rich descriptions, theory-based sampling strategy, and peer debriefing/expert review. The data revealed not only a rich understanding of the network’s problem of practice but also provided a window into what types of cues triggered member sensemaking in this social structure and what actions propelled member sensemaking forward in this ongoing process.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


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