Inquiring Minds: Improving Elementary Science by Linda Lippe

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By John Hunter, founder of

Linda Lippe’s presentation, Inquiring Minds: Improving Elementary Science in Leander ISD, Texas at our 2015 Deming in Education Conference. The 2nd annual Deming in Education conference will be held November 4-6, 2016 Atlanta, Georgia

YouTube video

One of the first tools they used in 2003 to determine what they should focus on to make their students successful in elementary science was the cause and effect diagram (fishbone diagram). Linda says that was a very useful tool to get them to understand the system and where to focus to improve student learning. She also discussed their use of other quality tools: force field analysis, multi-voting, interrelationship diagraph.

Their aim (“what we desired”) was

student learning and loving that learning of science. And we thought that would come through hands on, and not just hands on, not just doing it, but minds on experiences.

One of the nice things about having presentations and podcasts from Leander school districts over the years is that you can see how the continued focus on engaging students and creating systems that allow students to continue to love learning drives Leander. It is easy to say that cultivating the love of learning in students is the goal but it very different to actually make decisions based on this aim. You can read our blog posts and view the presentations and listen to podcasts from Leander and really see how they focus on student learning.

This presentation also makes it obvious how well Leander ISD intergrates the use of quality tools into their efforts. Quality tools alone are not sufficient but the effective use of quality tools is extremely important to long term success of efforts to improve the system. And most organizations use quality tools far too infrequently.

I believe the very well integrated use of a wide variety of quality tools is due to the long term involvement of David Langford. In my opinion, David does a great job of helping organizations understand how to use the tools within the Deming management system to improve. This seems like it should be pretty simiple but based on the limited use of tools in most organizations it seems using tools effectively is something that requires more emphasis than is given by most organizations.

Related: W. Edwards Deming and the Leander WayApplying Dr. Deming’s Ideas at the Lakeville Public School SystemImproving Student Achievement at the Urbandale Community School DistrictEncouraging the Next Generation of STEM Professionals

Many organizaitons use 2 to 4 of quality tools fairly well. And even just that can give you some great results. And I even think starting with a focus on using just a handful of tools well, is a good strategy. But once those tools are used well, integrating new tools into the overall management improvement system is very useful. And few organizations manage to get that far. If you hear people talk of using more than a handful of tools in a way that integrates well with their overall management improvement efforts (with an understanding of the organization as a system, customer focus and using data effectively) they are likely doing very well. But it is amazing how uncommon this is.

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