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WIDER PERSIST at Boise State University

Promoting Educational Reform through Strategic Investments in Systemic Transformation (PERSIST)

PERSIST is a Boise State project in the National Science Foundation WIDER program, which stands for Widening Implementation and Dissemination of Evidence-based Reforms. WIDER aims to substantially scale up evidence-based instructional practices (EBIPs). WIDER’s ultimate goals are improved student learning and retention, and increased number and graduation of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors, including under-represented students. Boise State PERSIST extends WIDER’s goal across the university.


The culture of teaching and learning at Boise State will be characterized by

  • on-going exploration and adoption of evidence-based instructional practices.
  • faculty engaged in continuous improvement of teaching and learning
  • dialogue around teaching supported through a community of practice
  • teaching evidenced and informed by meaningful assessment

The fulfillment of this vision will enhance our learning-centered culture and will result in increased student achievement of learning outcomes, retention, and degree attainment; especially among underrepresented populations.

PERSIST Applies a Business Change Model

Scaling up the use of EBIP and making progress toward institutional transformation will require deliberate and widespread strategies to engage faculty “where they are” and to facilitate the removal of barriers that prevent adoption of best practices and cultivation of a shared purpose and vision.

Transformation of this character and scale requires that we translate change theory into an actionable change plan. For Boise State PERSIST we will adapt and deploy Dormant’s CACAO change model, a synthesis and application of highly regarded change theories: Everett Rogers’ work on the diffusion of innovations (passive, bottom- or middle-up) and John Kotter’s work on the purposeful implementation of designed changes (active, top-down).

Cover of the book "The Chocolate Model of Change."

“The Chocolate Model of Change”
by Dr. Diane Dormant

CACAO Elements
CA = Change Agents
C = Change
A = Adopters
O = Organization


Dormant, D. (2011). The chocolate model of change. San Bernardino, CA: Author.
Rogers, E. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York, NY: Free Press.
Kotter, J. (1990). A force for change: How leadership differs from management. New York, NY: Free Press.
Kotter, J. (2006). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. In J. V. Gallos (Ed.), Organizational development (pp. 239-251). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Kotter, J., & Heskett, J. L. (1992). Corporate culture and performance. New York, NY: The Free Press.

Logo of the National Science Foundation.

WIDER PERSIST is funded by NSF grant #DUE-1347830  Principal Investigator, Susan Shadle