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By Dr. Harry Tennant

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Challenge comes before improvement

I've been talking a lot about continuous improvement recently in this blog. But before we get improvement, we must have something else:


Challenge is what motivates improvement. It is the "why" for improvement. Here's how it fits into a program of continuous improvement.

The Five Questions

  1. What is your target condition here? (In other words, what is your current challenge?)
  2. What is the actual condition now?
  3. What obstacles are now preventing you from reaching the target condition? Which one are you addressing now?
  4. What is your next step?
  5. When can we go and see what we have learned from taking that step?

Challenges may come about in different ways. For example, a challenge may be taking advantage of an opportunity. Online formative tests, for example, can be checked and provide specific and immediate student feedback. We may see applying online formative tests as an opportunity to improve results on summative tests. So, the process is to acquire the ability to do online formative tests, provide the tests to the students and then review the results at the end of the unit.

More commonly, challenges arise from what we want to achieve for our students. A common challenge these days is to raise standardized test scores. Of all the possible ways we might address that challenge, we might first focus on aligning our courses with the standard learning objectives.

Challenges of opportunity are good when they align with the goals of the school and they address the highest priority changes to be made. Otherwise, challenges of opportunity may be distractions from the work that really needs to be done.

Posted at 12:00 AM Keywords: continuous improvement , challenge 3 Comments

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