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Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, students will learn what the PSDA cycle is and how it can be implemented in professional development.

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Welcome. I'm Tricia Fyfe and in today's video lesson, we'll look at the title PDSA. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards several learning objectives and together we'll use the following three questions to guide our learning in this video lesson. What is a PDSA? What are the steps in the PDSA? And how can a PDSA support professional development?

Let's stat this lesson by diving right into the question, what exactly is a PDSA? PDSA is a process of four different steps and it can be used as a tool when attempting to make improvements. Essentially, it's a continuous cycle for development. The four stages are concrete and the order remains the same as you work through the process.

The continuous cycle of improvement is used in many different fields and it can be applied to any environment where development or improvement is taking place. It was designed in 1920 and it was first applied by W. Edwards Deming in business practice in both US and Japan. This cycle, often referred to as Deming's wheel we or Deming's cycle is such a great tool for making changes in a quick and effective manner.

It focuses on setting goals, observing and monitoring progress, as well as changing things as needed. This is where the continuous improvement comes into play. We can continue this cycle for as long as needed. So how can we use this cycle as teachers? The PDSA cycle can be very beneficial to us in the instructional coaching process and when focusing on professional growth.

Let's look at the four steps of the PDSA. Remember, this is a cycle that can continue. The first step is to plan. What are my goals? What theory are we looking at? How will success be measured? How will we put this plan into action? This is where we identify issues, goals, and methods for approaching these goals and issues.

It's most important for teachers and coaches to ask, what is the current problem that needs to be addressed and how can we address it? Do is the second step. And here we work through the steps and plan that has been implemented. Here's where, when working on professional development, we might make changes to our teaching strategies or we might apply methods that we've planned.

It's important to ask here what improvement strategies are we using to correct the problem or improve the situation. Teachers and coaches must work together to determine this. Study is the third stage and here we look at the outcomes of what has been implemented. We monitor for the criteria we determined would indicate success.

When working on professional development, we reflect, evaluate all of our outcomes, and review data and feedback from our students. Some questions that are important to address here as teachers and coaches are, what information and data will be used in determining whether or not the improvement strategy is working?

Act is the final stage in this process. But remember, we can move into the plan again if needed. Creating a revised plan with improvements. Here, we adjust and adapt. What changes must be made to our plan our process? We use the data and information gathered in the study stage to determine what changes need to be made.

What is the data telling us? Has our improvement strategy worked? Or do we need to go back to the original problem and re-work our plan? Let's look at some examples of the PDSA cycle. Let's say the first teacher here is working with her coach on increasing student engagement. The plan is to incorporate some flipped lessons into her classes each week.

Scores are observed and student feedback is assessed during the study stage. And it's determined that while things are improving, students could benefit from more. The teacher and coach work together to determine solutions and ideas to plan for and they decide to incorporate student led inquiry opportunities into each class.

This is where the cycle would go back into the plan section. Another example might be a teacher that's working with a coach on student transitions between large and small groups. Students are often lost and off task during these times. The pair decides to start with a class meeting to discuss the rules and procedures and then the teacher sets in place an incentive system for tables of students that follow directions quickly.

Over the next two days, in this study step, this teacher notices this system seems to be working pretty well for this group of students. Students are at their tables and prepared to begin the next activity quickly. Let's look at one more example. A teacher here works with their coach to find a strategy to help second graders write a basic paragraph.

Her students are struggling here. They're having a hard time with main ideas and details. This teacher plans and implements a visual model of paragraph parts, giving each student a diagram to keep at their desk. Additionally, she sets up a writing center in her classroom to encourage more writing.

Over the next few weeks, the teacher tracks growth in this area and gathers student feedback. After studying data and feedback, the teacher decides to use peer modeling as students work together on this concept, as some students are still having a tough time. She goes through the process again with revised goals.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following questions. What is a PDSA? What are the steps in a PDSA? And how can a PDSA support professional development? In this lesson we explored the P, Plan, D, Do, S, Study, and A, Act, cycle for continuous improvement as it applies to the instructional coach and teacher relationship.

I described each step in the cycle for you and we went through several examples of what a PDSA might look like. Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. What might the challenges be for you in using a PDSA? What are the benefits to the teacher when using a PDSA?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson PDSA. I hope you found value in this video lesson and are able to apply these ideas about this continuous improvement cycle to your own teaching and coaching. For more information on how to apply what you've learned in this video, please see the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The additional resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource.

Notes on “PDSA”


(00:00- 00:24) Introduction/Objectives

(00:25- 01:25) What is a PDSA

(01:26- 02:04) Stage P: Plan

(02:05- 02:28) Stage D: Do

(02:29- 02:55) Stage S: Study

(02:56- 03:22) Stage A: Act

(03:23- 05:11) Examples of PDSAs

(05:12- 05:39) Recap

(05:40- 06:19) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Using PDSA to Improve Student Achievement 

This is  a useful handout from the American Society for Quality (ASQ) on using PDSA to improve instruction. This resource provides a clear overview of PDSA and an explanation of how to implement PDSA cycles of inquiry to increase student achievement and improve instruction.

Case Example: Usable Interventions and PDSA

This is a case example by the Active Implementation Hub of using PDSA for continuous improvement and the implementation of interventions. This resource shows the complete process of a team of teachers engaging in a PDSA cycle of inquiry.