Anyone can learn improvement — and here is something to help!

Kim Ethier Stover

Senior Improvement Advisor, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

Silvia Holschneider

Senior Improvement Advisor for Reporting and Deliverables, USAID ASSIST Project

Have you ever been confused about how to develop a good aim statement, prioritize changes in improvement, or create and analyze time series charts? If so, you will be happy to know that ASSIST just published a new series called Tips and Tools for Learning Improvement, which is a set of competency-based materials for building basic skills in improvement. 

We collaborated with an instructional designer to break down the competencies that are needed for health care providers and managers, Ministry of Health counterparts, and public health professionals to improve health care.  This learning approach uses easy to understand materials that help those who are new to improvement methods build the skills and judgment needed to implement an improvement intervention.   

Each handout in the series is a self-contained, self-directed lesson with numerous competency-based exercises so that learners can practice, in a structured way, the skills and judgment required for improvement. An answer key is provided for each section, with additional information and commentary where appropriate.  The topics of the eight handouts are:

  • Aims for improvement
  • Improvement teams
  • Flowcharts
  • Developing changes
  • Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles
  • Measures for improvement
  • Measurement - Time series charts
  • Measurement – Variation vs. improvement

We worked closely with the instructional design consultant to create (and often recreate a few times) exercises that are clear to the learner and help build their confidence and competency in doing improvement work.  Each handout was then tested by both ASSIST headquarters and field staff who were relatively new to improvement. This field testing and review helped us to both simplify the language and address questions that came up for users which we hadn’t originally anticipated.

The series format is versatile and can be used by an individual interested in improvement or as a teaching tool during trainings or coaching visits to target a specific skill set.  The handouts can supplement other in-person trainings and online courses.  

We are excited to roll out this new series and look forward to feedback from people who use them to understand how and when they are most useful.


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