Continuous Improvement in Education Excerpt 2: The Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) Cycle


KAREN SHAKMAN: So now many of you in the chat
made reference to the PDSA, or Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle. And I’d like to start our presentation of
the Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle, which will be something that we’ll talk about over the
next many slides, over several minutes of the workshop. Because it’s an essential part of the continuous
improvement process. It is one of several approaches that teams
could use to engage in cycles of continuous improvement. And while there are other approaches, this
process is one that we think you will find accessible and familiar to your own work. However, while we could probably do this kind
of cycle informally all the time, the task of continuous improvement is to engage in
this work in the cycle formally, systematically, and repeatedly. So there are four phases. And the first is the Plan phase. And in the Plan phase the team clarifies the
problem and the aim for the cycle of improvement. During this step the team will also define
both what they intend to test, such as developing or refining a protocol or tool, and the metrics
or measures for assessing whether they have met their aims, including both process and
outcome measures. Here is where they ask what will happen if
we try something different. Tools such as the cause and effect, or what
we call the fishbone diagram, and the driver diagram are very useful here. And we’ll be introducing them in the next
few minutes. During the Do phase the team implements the
change. They try it. And they collect data. During the Study phase participants examine
the data together and consider the extent to which the change is addressing the specific
aims, or targets, for the cycle. Here they ask, did it work. For example, is the implementation of a new
planning protocol being used by all middle school English language arts and ESL teacher
teams. Is the data also showing increased engagement
of EL students. Many of the examples that you brought up during
that last activity would be the kind of things you would look for here. And finally, there is the Act phase. And during the Act phase all that learning
that was generated by engaging in the process, by doing the work, and collecting, and looking
at data together all of that is synthesized. And then some decisions are made. Here is where they decide what next.

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