chapter  5
33 Pages

The project in mid-stream: the U-curve of innovation

It is to be expected that innovations will not proceed smoothly or exactly as planned. That is the norm and the project reported in this book is no exception. However, the project moved on in the face of this, and how this happened is testimony not only to the leaders of, and participants in, the innovation but also to the will for the project to succeed. Fullan (2013) refers to the ‘implementation dip’, in which, after the start of the innovation, it initially encounters setbacks and poorer than-hoped-for results. It can be represented as a U-curve, as in Figure 5.1. Indeed, he argues (2011b: 71) that it could not be otherwise, as ‘new skills and understandings’ are being learned. Here the immediate upturn in outcomes (results) or gains at the start of the innovation is followed by a dip in outcomes and the experience of negative gains, e.g. student performance, implementation success (i.e. whatever measures are used), and then the performance of the innovation climbs again. The innovation reported here follows a similar trajectory wherein the initial upturn in performance (e.g. student motivation and attitude, collaborative group work) entered a dip in results (e.g. students’ assessment results, teachers’ extended use of collaborative learning).