Date of Award

12-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Granting Institution

Lynn University

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EDD)

Degree Program

Educational Leadership

Department

College of Education

First Advisor

Kelly Burlison

Second Advisor

Art Johnson

Third Advisor

James Guthrie

Abstract

Continuous improvement (CI) is used across organizations to solve problems. Since the 2010s, CI practices have gained popularity in education. When comparing business organizations’ applications of CI practices to those in education, a gap is evident. Educational organizations create strategic plans, set long-term goals, implement initiatives, and measure overall outcomes in terms of student achievement. However, when attempting to build a high-performing culture and improve customer service between district departments and school centers, frequent and routine monitoring of customer experiences must occur.

This study examines current CI practices in a large, urban school district as they relate to improving the customer service of district departments. If CI efforts throughout the school district are systemically insufficient, the researchers seek to develop a process to assist district departments with ongoing progress monitoring measures to improve the customer service relationship between departments and schools.

This study’s primary rationale evaluates the need for a CI tool assisting school district departments in implementing effective customer service strategies with school centers. Currently, district departments in a large urban school district receive feedback as part of the annual Department Quality Survey (DQS). Once data is analyzed, district departments utilize various methods of developing improvement plans, different strategic actions for implementation, different progress monitoring methods, and have limited feedback on departments’ progress measures before the following year’s survey is issued. The ongoing professional development and progress monitoring are missing from the PDCA cycle.

The researchers utilize the conceptual framework model of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) as a resource to develop a tool that remedies the problem. The LSS methodology supports the existing process improvement structures that a large urban school district currently employs. As part of a districtwide strategic plan to develop a high performance culture, the large urban school district administers the DQS. The survey of principals and school leaders examines schools’ satisfaction levels concerning district department-provicded customer service.

Individual interviews with responses were recorded and transcribed for data analysis. The researchers used thematic analysis to identify, analyze, organize, describe, and report themes found within the data set (Nowell, Norris, White, & Moules, 2017). The study’s participants provided feedback on the importance of personnel at both district and school levels. Team-building with the ‘right’ people was highlighted as an essential factor in sustaining improvement. Further, communication was found essential to outlining the work to be done, highlighting what is not working, and making necessary changes to improve.

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