Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Total Quality Management: From Industry to Education

Theories and practices in Educational Management as a field of study were derived from management principles originally applied in the industry (Sergiovanni and Starratt, 2007; Bush, 2003; Oliva and Paulas, 1999; Hoy and Miskel, 1991). This is because educational administration, as a field of scholarly endeavor, developed later than related fields, such as business administration and public administration (Kimbrough and Nunnery, 1976). These theories and principles were carefully modified in order to fit in the educational setting. Hence, in order to fully understand the underlying concepts in a particular theory and practice in education administration, it is important to explore its origin and impacts in the industry – where it came from.

As TQM derived its language, concepts, and methodology from industry (Sallis, 2002), it is therefore important to investigate how TQM started in the industry. This way, we will gain better understanding on how it permeated in the educational setting. Moreover, the distinction between product-oriented industries and service-oriented educational institutions can be established when there is thorough understanding on how TQM gained popularity in the industry and then in education.

TQM had its first success in Japan during the post-World War II rehabilitation. It was introduced by an American statistician, Dr. W. Edwards Deming, who first visited Japan in the late 1940s to work in their post-war census (Sallis, 2002). The idea was embraced by the Japanese where they started applying it in the manufacturing of goods and then followed by service industries. From then on, Japanese industries became popular icons in the world when it comes to product quality. Few of the companies which applied Deming’s management principle include Ford Motor Company, Phillips Semiconductor, SGL Carbon, Motorola and Toyota Motor Company (Gilbert, 1992 as cited by Hashmi, 2000–2009). Dr. W. Edwards Deming is now celebrated in Japan as the “American father of Japanese industry” wherein the Deming Prize, established in 1950s, became Japan’s most prestigious industrial award (Schomoker and Wilson, 1993). It was only after Japan achieved tremendous success in the world industry that America realized that they also have to focus on quality as Japan started to dominate the world market.

However, the movement of total quality in education is of more recent origin as there were only few references in the literature before the late 1980s (Sallis, 2002). Sallis (2002) clearly narrated the beginning of TQM in education in the USA and the UK. He divulged, “Much of the pioneering work on TQM was carried out in the USA and by further education colleges in the UK. The US initiatives developed somewhat before those in Britain, but in both countries the surge of interest occurred from 1990 onwards.”

TQM was first applied in the higher education level but it then gained prominence in the entire levels of education specifically in the basic education level where schools, especially in the USA, became after of quality awards in education. However, even if TQM is proven to be applicable in education institutions, extra cautions must still be observed when applying concepts and practices from industry to education. In relation to this, Law and Glover (200) inscribe, ”While we need to recognize that a number of ‘commercial’ concepts may be applicable to educational scenarios as it becomes market-driven, it is clear that there is no ready-made or universally applicable theories we can simply pull off from the shelves.”

Defining TQM in Education

Plenty of definitions of TQM which exist in literatures define TQM as it is applied in business and industry. Although some of them are applicable in the field of education, others still need to be modified in order to fit into the needs of the education sector. In an attempt to define TQM in the educational context, Murgatroyd and Morgan (1993) defined TQM as a systematic management of an organization’s customer-supplier relationships in such a way as to ensure sustainable, steep-slope improvement in quality performance.

Ross (1994), Besterfield et al. (1995), Murgatroyd and Morgan (1993) and Mukopadhyay (2005) argue that TQM has to be viewed in a holistic manner. Mokupadhyay (2005) contends that a partisan or fragmented way of looking at quality in any organization is neither desirable, nor feasible, for an action in one area sets out a chain of reactions in several other areas of management of an educational institution. TQM provides an important opportunity to look at quality in a holistic fashion and also provides instrumentalities for managing quality.

Convinced that TQM is not an agenda of only the top management as opposed to other hierarchical management principles, Sallis (2002) inscribed, “The total in TQM dictates that everything and everybody in the organization is involved in the enterprise of continuous improvement. The management in TQM likewise means everyone, because everyone in the institution, whatever their status, position or role, is the manager of their own responsibilities.”
Underlying Concepts of TQM

Understanding the origin and impact of TQM in the industry and its transmission in education is not enough to fully comprehend what TQM really is all about. It has to be, first, understood that TQM is a management principle composed of many underlying concepts. Barry (1991), as cited by Binkley (1994), notes that TQM is a natural evolution of all the effective management techniques that are currently being applied by excellent organization.

Murgatroyd and Morgan (1993) argue that “the key word in TQM is management. Quality performance does not occur by happenchance or accident, it occurs because it is designed into the way the organization works; it permeates all aspects of the organization.”  Their statement has been supported by Sadgrove (1995) who believes that TQM is really just another word for good management.

Central to every TQM-driven organization is its focus on continuous improvement ( Rao et al., 1996; Schomoker & Wilson, 1993; Ross, 1994; Besterfield et al., 1995).  Ross (1994) contends that TQM is the integration of all functions and processes within an organization to achieve continuous improvement of the quality of goods and services. Besterfield et al. (1995) put the definition of TQM this way: “TQM is defined as both philosophy and a set of guiding principles that represent a foundation of a continuously improving organization. It is the application of quantitative methods and human resources to improve all the processes within an organization and exceed customer needs now and in the future.”

            Customer-satisfaction is a focus of every endeavor in a TQM organization (Sadgrove, 1995; Sashkin, 1993). Sadgrove (1995) points out that TQM means satisfying the customers first time, every time.

Besterfield, D. et al. (1995). Total quality management. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Binkley, B. (1994). Total quality management and its impact on higher education with emphasis on academic libraries. Unpublished master’s thesis, Tennessee State University, Tennessee

Murgatroyd, S. & Morgan, C. (1993). Total quality management and the school. Buckingham: Open University Press

Mokupadhyay, M. (2005). Total quality management in education. New Delhi: Sage Publications

Sadgrove, K. (1995). Making TQM work. London: Kogan Page Ltd.

Sallis, E. (2002). Total quality management in education. London: Kogan Page Ltd.

Schomoker, M. & Wilson, R. (1993). Total quality education: Profiles of schools that demonstrate the power of Deming’s management principles. Bloomington: Phi Delta Kappa

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Teacher Complacency

I could still remember those days when I was still in a teacher-training institution preparing myself for my future teaching endeavors. When I was in fourth year and about to graduate, I was exposed to the real teaching atmosphere by having me attend a daily observation and participation session in our college's laboratory high school. I observed and assisted my cooperating teacher's high school Math classes for four months. At the same time, I learned to prepare those teaching materials like lesson plans, teaching reflections, assessment and feedback forms and others. That time, the importance of those materials in assisting the learners' need was clearly introduced to us that's why, as future teachers, we adhered on making the best possible output because we believed that those things were not just mere chores but a huge help to our learners as well. 

When I had my teaching practicum during the second semester, I passionately prepared my lessons and promptly did all those paperworks considering that they were of great importance for the learning of my students. I used to enter my classes carrying loads of visual aids and full of enthusiasm to teach. I have observed that the same attitude could also be observed from other student-teachers. All of us were very enthusiastic to teach and we loved to share our teaching experiences every time we go back to our college. Personally, when I had my off-campus teaching practicum in a government high school 72 kilometers away from the college I was attending, I took bundles of references with me. I had my portfolio, professional articles, notes and a variety of Mathematics book which guided me throughout my near-independent teaching practicum.

With all the enthusiasm I and my fellow student-teachers had during our practicum, a sense of confusion struck my head when I saw how 'experienced teachers' had become in their profession. Most, if not all, of them had become complacent in their respective fields. The enthusiasm that we had, could hardly be seen to these experienced teachers. Unlike the passionate sharing of teaching experiences evident in every student-teacher, professional conversation could hardly be heard in the faculty room where these experienced teachers stay during their free time. These teachers normally have complaints against their students and the tasks which they were mandated to do. It's very sad because those things directly affect the learners. 

Why do teachers tend to become complacent during their service years? What are the factors that demotivate teachers to pursue their passion in teaching? 

Like other professions, teachers need support in order to grow professionally. Everybody needs constant motivation to sustain one's passion. However, we know that teachers are the least paid professionals and most of the times very little support is given by the management of the school to meet the professional needs of the teachers. Professional development trainings are provided but they are not actually given to those teachers who need them. Instead, those who already have the potential and the passion for teaching get the best support from the administration. Aside from that, teachers are not considered as collaborators in the planning stage. Plans are usually done by those who are on the top and teachers are just asked to implement what has been planned. 

For instance, if there are changes which need to be implemented in the classroom, teachers are usually asked to implement the changes without enough information that would help them understand the urgency and the importance of the implementation. Changes in school forms and giving of additional loads to teachers are ordinarily given without considering the impact of such change to the teachers who directly influence the learners. Some of those forms and paperworks are just additional loads for teachers and they do not even contribute to students' learning. Instead of focusing on the support that every teacher could possibly give to the learners, much focus is given on asking teachers to provide unneeded reports and documents and sad to say, these reports are not even read by anyone--they're just kept as a files. Most of the times, it leads to teacher burn-out as teachers would eventually find out that they spend much of their time making those unnecessary reports than finding fulfillment through helping the students out in the learning process.

I hope that administrators would be awakened and would realize how the current surge of the system negatively affects the teachers. Teachers need support and encouragement to reinvent their teaching and be motivated with the help they are providing to the students. I hope everybody would realize such thing before it's too late. One day, we might witness a huge number of dedicated teachers shifting careers for they do not find fulfillment and happiness in what they are doing anymore. After all, it's the desire of every human being to find fulfillment at what he/she is doing and I believe that such fulfillment can only be achieved if we see impact of our efforts. Such impact can be seen in the number of lives we have touched and not in the bundle of irrelevant files we have finished.