Theory-based change and change-based theory: Going deeper, going broader

Abstract: This article examines the questions of sustaining and extending theory-based educational change, reforms, which are designed laboratories outside of schools and whose motivating theoretical base assumes change elemental aspects of classroom practice. This article defines sustainability of theory-based reform as more than maintaining current implementation, but rather as deepening reforms in ways that allow for flexible response to changes in student, curricular, and school contexts. It draws upon five years of research in schools and classrooms engaged in one of three theory-based reform to discuss five essential factors affecting sustainability: resources, reformers’ learning, knowledge of the first principles of the reform and the support of a community of practice, the principal, and the district. This article then turns to “scaling up.” Rather than merely replicating structures, extending theory-based reform to new sites requires building compatibility between the normative base of the reform with that in the classrooms, schools and districts in which they are growing as well as the capacity of the classroom, school, and district to see it through. This article suggests three main factors that reform founders must focus upon to scale up their reforms—attention to site selection, a proactive stance toward district contexts, and planned transfer of authority. The article concludes that issues of invention, implementation, sustainability, and scale occur simultaneously when going deeper and broader with theory-based change.



Work Title Theory-based change and change-based theory: Going deeper, going broader
Open Access
  1. Milbrey W. McLaughlin
  2. Dana Mitra
  1. Theoretical base
  2. Education research
  3. Site selection
  4. Essential factor
  5. Classroom practice
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Journal of Educational Change
Publication Date December 2001
Deposited March 01, 2024




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added McLaughlin_and_Mitra_Going_deeper_going_broader_6_02_01.doc
  • Added Creator M McLaughlin
  • Added Creator Dana L Mitra
  • Published
  • Updated Keyword, Publication Date Show Changes
    • Theoretical base, Education research, Site selection, Essential factor, Classroom practice
    Publication Date
    • 2001-01-01
    • 2001-12
  • Renamed Creator Milbrey W. McLaughlin Show Changes
    • M McLaughlin
    • Milbrey W. McLaughlin
  • Renamed Creator Dana Mitra Show Changes
    • Dana L Mitra
    • Dana Mitra
  • Updated