Bringing Improvement Science to High School Students

Circle divided into 4 sections with each section marked with the letters P, D, A, S

“I think using MOOCs to educate students is profound, especially connecting students virtually with people from other states and countries, with people young and old, and with people from different cultural views. When this happens, students are not only learning the content that’s being presented, they are also learning the views of other people.”  

Teal VanLanen, Wellness Coordinator and Community Activator

How can teachers help high school students learn to make positive changes in their health and daily lives? One educator found a way with HarvardX’s online course Practical Improvement Science in Health Care.

Teal VanLanen, a Wellness Coordinator and Community Activator in the Algoma, WI, school system, enrolled her high school students in the seven-week course, which introduces learners to a scientific approach to improvement — a practical, rigorous methodology that includes a theory of change, measurable aims, and iterative, incremental small tests of change to determine if improvement concepts can be implemented effectively in practice.

Students completed the online coursework independently during the school day, coming together to discuss ideas and help each other stay on schedule.

“Their favorite part were the videos as they gave concrete examples and were easy to follow,” said VanLanen. “They also really enjoyed collaborating with other people from around the United States. This collaboration with other CEOs, doctors, directors, etc., around the world helped them feel connected and realize that others around our country are on a similar journey. They no longer felt isolated as high school students living in a rural community. Their voice mattered.”

Inspired by what they learned, VanLanen’s students decided to “pass it on” and are now teaching improvement approaches to younger students in the community.

VanLanen will be guiding more students through the second version of the course, which launches on January 18. You can read more about how VanLanen used the course with her students in this Institute for Healthcare Improvement blog.

To learn more about the HarvardX course and enroll, visit: Practical Improvement Science in Health Care: A Roadmap for Getting Results