Academic journal article College Student Journal

Total Quality Involvement in the Classroom: Integrating Tqm in a Systems Analysis and Design Course

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Total Quality Involvement in the Classroom: Integrating Tqm in a Systems Analysis and Design Course

Article excerpt

This paper describes how Total Quality Management (TQM) was integrated into a learning approach developed for use in an undergraduate course in systems analysis and design. The learning approach used in this class, referred to as Total Quality Involvement (TQI) learning, was designed to expose students to the TQM concepts being discussed in the class. TQM was, therefore, integrated into the content of the course, as well as into the instructional approach used. Our classroom experiences indicate that TQI is an effective instructional methodology. Over a five-year period, the TQI approach was successfully used in a wide range of courses. The specific techniques used in the TQI process are described in detail. The paper concludes with a critical analysis of TQI effectiveness and recommendations for practitioners.

Introduction

A number of reports have criticized the state of undergraduate teaching, calling for greater use of collaboration and of active modes of teaching, the creation of learning communities, and more personal contact between students and faculty (Chizmar, 1994). One approach that has been suggested is that of integrating the ideas of Total Quality Management (TQM) into the teaching and learning process (Evans, 1998). Many recent studies show that an increasing number of colleges and faculty are adopting this approach for improvement of classroom teaching and learning (Vazzana, Bachmann, and Elfrink 1997; Klaus, 1997; Bass, Dellana and Hebert, 1996; Cobb 1998). Proponents claim that TQM brings many potential advantages to a teaching/learning model, which may include continuous improvement, discerning feedback, empowered teachers and students, and an emphasis on collaborative teamwork (Mehrez, Weinroth, and Israeli, 1997; Chizmar, 1994; Ord, 1993;).

In this paper we present an adaptation of TQM in classroom learning at a comprehensive four-year university. Total Quality Involvement (TQI) learning -- as it is referred to in this study -- was used in the Business School's core Management Information Systems (MIS) course to promote active student involvement in the learning process. Key to this approach is the provision of realism through real-world examples and problems, while also focusing on the integration of competencies and skill development.

Although this approach was initially developed for an undergraduate course in systems analysis and design, it has since been successfully applied to a wide range of courses by other faculty members. Courses in which it has been used include: a sophomore class (Introduction to Computers); a junior class (Management Science); a senior class (Decision Support Systems); and a graduate class (Seminars in Information System). Unlike many previous short term studies on the effectiveness of TQM in the classroom, our study represents five years of classroom (and industry) experience.

In this paper a short overview of the systems analysis and design course is presented followed by a description of the TQI method used. The implementation of the TQI method is reported and, in conclusion, its effectiveness is examined with recommendations for practitioners.

Overview of the Course

The course described in this paper is a junior-level systems analysis and design course intended for MIS majors. The purpose of the course is to introduce students to real-world systems analysis and design techniques. The major topics discussed in this course are shown in Figure 1. The first four class sessions set the stage for learning the software development life cycle techniques to be covered. The remaining classes cover the theory and techniques utilized in computer systems analysis and design.

Figure 1 Course Content

Impetus &               Concept/
SDLC Phases             Technique

Problem Origination     Quality Management
                        Crisis Management
                        Environmental Changes
                        Organizational Changes

Requirements Analysis   Interview
                        Team Facilitation
                        Documentation/System Review

System Analysis         Entity Relationship Diagrams
                        Data Dictionary
                        Object Oriented Database Design
                        Data Flow Diagrams
                        Process Flow Maps

Preliminary Design      Process Flow Maps - New System
                        Data Flow Diagrams - New Systems
                        Revised Entity-Relationship Diagrams
                        Revised Data Dictionary Revision
                        Revised Object Oriented Database

Detail Design           Process Specification Tools
                        Revised Data Dictionary

Programming             Hierarchical Diagrams
                        Object Oriented Programming

Implementation          Testing
                        Training Efforts
                        Conversion Approaches

Maintenance             Ongoing Review of Process Flow Maps
                        Total Quality Management
                        Object Orientation

While many of the topics and techniques taught in this course resemble those covered in a conventional course, our approach distinguishes itself by treating TQM as an integral component of the systems life-cycle model. …

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