What is CQI?

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Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), adopted from the principles of Total Quality Management (TQM), provides the tools to help Penn State enhance existing programs, improve our effectiveness in the teaching-learning process, foster a collaborative work environment, and tap the expertise of University faculty, staff, and students. First applied in manufacturing and later expanded to service organizations, quality initiatives now assist colleges and universities across the country. Industry, convinced of the merits of TQM, has encouraged higher education to investigate the opportunities offered by TQM and to shape total quality practices to meet our needs.

What Is Penn State’s Vision For CQI? What Principles Will Achieve Our Vision?

Penn State has a commitment to continuous quality improvement, creating an environment in which everyone takes ownership of the improved educational enterprise and where high value is placed on teamwork, collaboration, and communication. To achieve this vision, we will strive to build CQI on these five principles:

  • Strong leadership at all levels to articulate a vision and inspire a lasting commitment.

  • Three hallmarks–a focus on “clients” (students, faculty, staff, employers, and others), the study of work processes, and information-based decision making.

  • Teamwork and team decision making leading to quality improvements; teams operating from a common understanding of systems and processes.

  • Conceptual links to strategic planning goals and assessment goals for improving the teaching-learning process.

  • Opportunity to learn about CQI through educational programs and networking.


How Committed Is Senior Administration To Following The Principles Of CQI?

Penn State’s senior officers are committed to leading this effort and to exploring CQI principles and practices in their own daily activities. Many of them, including the President, the Provost, deans of colleges, vice presidents, and directors are members of the University Council on CQI. Most have participated in training sessions to learn more about CQI.

What Role Do Faculty Play In Continuous Quality Improvement?

Faculty are encouraged to play an important role in CQI. Many members of the faculty spend a significant part of their time serving in administrative roles. Other faculty have interactions with the University’s administrative and business processes, and CQI will therefore have relevance to them. Faculty may want to look at ways to integrate CQI with the teaching/learning process. Deans and department heads can play an active role in providing leadership for continuous quality improvement.

What Role Do Students Have In Continuous Quality Improvement?

Students are the largest constituency served by the faculty and staff. As such, they can provide information about their educational experiences and can be participants in and beneficiaries of CQI. Students can give input regarding what improvements are needed in the services they receive and in determining how successful the interventions have been. When appropriate, students are invited to serve on teams.

Isn’t The Introduction Of CQI A Way Of Saying That In The Past Penn State Did Not Achieve The Highest Quality?

No. Quality is a relative concept, not an absolute. Penn State has long been recognized nationally and internationally for the high quality of its students, faculty, staff, and programs. We must not become complacent, however. CQI is a systematic approach that provides methods and tools to enhance the practice of quality.

Is CQI Just Another Term For Budget-Cutting?

No. CQI is not a means for budget-cutting. It is a means for focusing on quality throughout the University that will improve work processes, increase productivity and, in some cases, lower costs. The work of some CQI teams may result in the allocation of additional resources. In some instances, increased costs in the short-term will result in cost savings over the long run.

How Much Time Do CQI Activities Take?

Although at first we had to spend extra time learning the principles and practices of CQI, the time requirements should not hamper University operations in the long run. Everyone will need to arrange their schedules to allow time for CQI training and activities in view of other commitments and priorities. Also, CQI calls for changes in the work styles of both managers and staff, and change takes time. In the long run, CQI activities will contribute to rather than hinder operations and CQI will become a means for saving time and enhancing operations.

What Is The Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment?

The Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment is the point of contact for those seeking information or wanting assistance in the practice of continuous quality improvement within their departments.

Faculty and staff may wish to contact the Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment, when:

  • They want information about process improvements within the University.

  • They would like assistance in clarifying or defining a critical process.

  • They want to start a CQI team.

  • They need information about education and team training.

  • They want to discuss possible team facilitators.

To learn more contact the staff of the Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment.


How Can I Become Involved In CQI? Can I Start A Team?

If you are interested in CQI, we suggest that you do the following: Watch for, and be sure your department is taking advantage of, CQI training programs. These are listed on our Web site and Quality Endeavors newsletters.

Find out whether your department is forming a CQI team. This will normally be the responsibility of management. Ask if they have made plans or timetables for quality improvement teams. Talk with your supervisor about the advisability of starting a team.

CQI teams need:

  • support from a sponsor

  • a trained leader and facilitator

  • a good project to learn on–one that is not too complex and that is self-contained.

U.Ed. OPR 94-12 PS276RS