Scientific method for improvement and student success: Plan-Do-Study-Act.


  • Sue Ann Heatherly Green Bank Observatory
  • Erica Harvey Fairmont State University



improvement science, networked improvement communities, STEM student success, student agency, first-generation, rural


Are you curious what STEM students find to be barriers to their own success?  Do you have anything in your courses or research laboratory environments that you would like to improve?  In this hands-on session you will learn how to use the basic principles of improvement science, specifically a branch called Networked Improvement Communities (NIC), to identify ideas that you think might produce the improvement you seek.  You will be guided through setting up a Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle to test your change idea on a rapid timescale in your own local environment. 

   The First2 Network ( is a growing statewide alliance that aims to improve student success and retention in STEM fields, using the NIC framework.  First-generation and other underrepresented students are at the center of the work, and we invite all students at the conference to join in and share their own experiences and perspectives with faculty members during this session.

   First2 Network, a National Science Foundation INCLUDES Alliance, is supported by NSF award numbers HRD-1834569, 1834575, 1834586, 1834595, and 1834601.

Author Biographies

Sue Ann Heatherly, Green Bank Observatory

Science Education Coordinator

Erica Harvey, Fairmont State University

Abelina Suarez Professor of Chemistry




How to Cite

Heatherly, S. A., & Harvey, E. (2021). Scientific method for improvement and student success: Plan-Do-Study-Act. Proceedings of the West Virginia Academy of Science, 93(1).