Continuous improvement goals can be implemented by various different groups and individuals to improve achievement or productivity and also enhance satisfaction levels.
In a sense, continuous improvement can be everybody’s goal so that there is a striving to continually get better while preventing stagnation.
We look at two scenarios where continuous improvement goals can make a difference and how:
Continuous improvement for the student
This 6-step methodology can be used by academic units to assess and enhance student learning.
- Firstly, identify the educational goals that may be considered valuable. For instance, what are the skills, knowledge and values that a student hopes to achieve by taking a course?
- Secondly, break up each goal into several measurable objectives. What are the learning objectives of the student and what are the criteria that must be met for the student to succeed?
- Thirdly indentify how well these stated objectives of the continuous improvement goals are being met by the students. Some of the tools used may be external reviews, capstone courses, surveys, portfolios, internship performances, standardized achievement tests, focus groups and so on.
- Fourthly clarify how student-learning outcomes can be administered, analyzed and interpreted to assess success of the learning process. Which of the tools will be used for the assessment and how?
- Fifthly is the communication of the assessment to everyone involved in the assessment process. This would be a two process – not only is the assessment to be conveyed, feedback is also to be obtained.
- Sixthly, use the feedback to make changes and reevaluate the process of assessment. What are changes needed to be made? What needs to be added, deleted or changed to increase the success of students? This is the cycle that helps to set continuous improvement goals.
The faculty of each academic unit is in the best position to effectively assess student learning programs, to define measurable objectives and to incorporate the requirements of students, employers and other involved in the development/improvement process.
Other factors involved in maintaining continuous improvement
Is there sufficient motivation for students and faculty to participate in the process of assessment? Why? What are the benchmarks set by comparable academic units or groups and how does this unit match up? Are sufficient resources available to make the enhancements required and is there sufficient support from the university, for the implementation of the continuous improvement goals envisioned?