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Continuous Improvement Cycles

Continuous Improvement Cycles

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson you will learn about continuous improvement cycles as a goal of the PLC.

In this lesson, you will understand the components of the PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) tool for continuous improvement

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Video Transcription

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Welcome. I'm Trisha Fyfe, and in our video lesson today, I will be covering the topic of continuous improvement cycles.

As we learn about this topic, we will work towards several learning objectives, and together, we will do this by answering the following questions-- what are continuous improvement cycles and their components, and how can we best use these in our teaching?

Let's start by diving into continuous improvement cycles. What are they? These cycles are a goal of the Professional Learning Community, and they're based on the cycle and goal that requires ongoing research. The thought is that we need to be continuously evaluating, adapting, bettering, and learning. We can use the PDSA cycle to make these continuous improvements at the student, teacher, and team level. There are built-in quality tools embedded in the cycle that help us facilitate this process.

PDSAs consist of a cycle of P-- planning, D-- doing, S-- studying, and A-- acting. This cycle was developed by Doctor Shewhart in the 1920s and later was used in business practice in Japan and US by Deming. This strategy is a tool for groups of many makeups to use in establishing goals, monitoring progress, and identifying and making changes rapidly when results are not being seen.

Let's look at the cycle. Remember, the cycle can be used at many different levels-- student, teacher, and groups or teams. The first part of the cycle is to plan. Here we determine the areas that need improvement. We're looking for areas that will help guide the overall development of a plan for improvement.

Next, we do. We implement the plan for improvement.

The third stage is to study. We looked deeply at what has happened so far and analyze whether things are working or not working. Have our plan and our actions made a difference?

The last stage is the act stage, and it's here that we use the data that we found to take action. Is it working? It so, let's continue the cycle. If not, let's change the P or the plan and continue the cycle from there after we've evaluated what changes need to be made.

In the final stage of act, it's important to think both about continuing an action that brings us successful results, both academically and behaviorally, and, equally important, to change our plan and continue the PDSA cycle if the desired results are not there. Why did things not work out? Can you develop new approaches or interventions? Use these new approaches and interventions to do and study again.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following questions-- what are continuous improvement cycles and their components, as well as, how can we best use these in a teaching? We discussed the cycle of continuous improvement, specifically, the PDSA cycle where the cycle of Plan, Do, Study, and Act can be used to help plan, implement, and reflect on goals for continuous improvement in your classroom. PDSAs have been used since the 1920s and in various contexts, even business practice. We went through the cycle and looked at each individual section.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. Why do teachers need to use these tools in their classrooms? Who can you collaborate with to better understand and implement continuous improvement cycles?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson, continuous improvement cycles. I hope you found value in this video lesson and you're able to apply these ideas and the PDSA cycle to your own teaching.

As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly-acquired skill set.

Notes on “Continuous Improvement Cycles”


(00:00- 00:22) Intro/Objectives

(00:23- 01:25) What are Continuous Improvement Cycles?

(01:26- 02:18) The PDSA Cycle

(02:19- 02:46) Considerations for the PDSA Cycle

(02:47- 03:24) Recap  

(03:25- 04:07) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Association of Independent Schools of Southern Australia: Continuous Improvement Models that focus on teaching and learning

This guidebook provides four models using schools as examples in the continuous improvement process: Model 1 - External Review, Model 2 - Reflective/Capacity Building, Model 3 - Action Research, and Model 4 - Self Review and Evaluation.

Using the Deming Cycle for Continuous Improvement in Engineering Education

This article ties in the resources provided for PDSA earlier in this competency. See the last page for a useful visual of the cycle in action.