JITE v33n4 - A Total Quality Management Model for Instructional Supervision in Vocational Technical Programs

Volume 33, Number 4
Summer 1996

A Total Quality Management Model for Instructional Supervision in Vocational Technical Programs

Chih-Yang Chao
National Changhua University of Education
Taiwan, R.O.C.
John C. Dugger
Iowa State University

The quality of public education has been discussed on many occasions during recent years. According to America 2000 (U.S. Department of Education, 1991), "A new American school does not necessarily mean new bricks and mortar, nor does a new American school have to rely on technology; the quality of learning is what matters" (p. 15). High performance is the standard for most competitive companies and it must become the standard for schools (U.S. Department of Labor, 1991):

The qualities of high performance that today characterize our most competitive companies must become the standard for the vast majority of our companies, large and small, local and global. The nation's schools must be transformed into high-performance organizations in their own right. (p. vi)

Many have also expressed concerns about the quality of education (Blanton 1991; Glasser 1990; Glaub 1990; Spanbauer, 1992). These concerns need to be addressed, especially in vocational-technical (Voc-Tech) education where students are prepared to enter the workplace. Enhancing the quality of educational products in order to solve problems is an important responsibility and an exciting challenge for educators.

One approach to improving the quality of products is Total Quality Management (TQM), a management approach originally developed to improve the quality of industrial products and services, which has gained wide acceptance since 1980: "Total Quality Management is a structured system for creating organization-wide participation in planning and implementing a continuous improvement process to meet and exceed customer needs" (GOALS/QPC, 1991, p. 1). Companies that have used TQM practices have achieved better employee relations, higher productivity, greater customer satisfaction, increased market share, and improved profitability (General Accounting Office, 1991). In the United States, many businesses are using the principles of Total Quality Management with positive results (Walton, 1991).

Faced with a changing environment and a strong need to improve the quality of school system outcomes, school leaders and reformers have begun to look at the principles of TQM as a means to help transform schools and the American education system so that both their processes and their results reflect the goals that have been identified for them (Glasser, 1990; Leonard, 1991; Meaney, 1991; Melvin, 1991; Moen, 1991; Winter, 1991). At present, some school districts have begun to use the TQM approach in an effort to find and reap the benefits that businesses have enjoyed; however, many schools are awaiting further information before adopting the TQM approach.

In vocational-technical education, the educational goals focus on preparing students to adapt to the needs of the workplace. Therefore, the continuous improvement of the quality of educational products in order to match employer needs is a critical and necessary goal for Voc-Tech educators. Solving teaching and learning problems to improve the quality of education is a main purpose of instructional supervision, and TQM helps define quality measures and provides a system for improving the process. When considering the transfer of the TQM approach to the educational sector, there is a need to determine whether instructional supervision practices can be modified to include TQM concepts.


This study was conducted to develop a total quality management implementation model that can guide instructional supervision practices in community college Voc-Tech programs. Such a model promises to improve the quality of instruction in Iowa community college vocational-technical programs.


Several research methods were used in this study. A literature review was used to obtain an initial TQM implementation model for instructional supervision. A Delphi study was then conducted to refine the initial model. Finally, an attitude survey of Voc-Tech administrators and teachers was conducted regarding the model. Based on the results of the attitude measurement, the model was revised to enhance the probability of successful implementation.

Delphi Study

Thirteen TQM experts and fourteen instructional supervision experts from across the United States agreed to participate in this study. The experts were selected based on their experience as consultants and teachers of TQM or instructional supervision. They were also authors of articles or professional books on TQM or instructional supervision. Each participant agreed to participate before the first round questions were sent. The Delphi technique was conducted and included the following steps:

  1. Select the panel of experts.
  2. Obtain a commitment to participate from the experts.
  3. Generate the Delphi instrument and conduct the first round questions.
  4. Analyze the first round data. Calculate the mean and standard deviation for each question and analyze the opinions derived from each open-ended question.
  5. Based on the results of first round, refine the model and generate the second round questions.
  6. Conduct the second round process and share the results of the first with all participants.
  7. Based on the results of the second round questions, calculate the mean and standard deviation of each item and analyze the opinions derived from each open ended question. Afterward, make comparisons between the results from the first and second rounds to obtain the degree of consensus from the experts.
  8. Refine the model and generate the attitude survey instrument.

Two rounds of questions were used in this Delphi process to obtain the experts' opinions. The first round questions focused on determining the basic components of the model and collecting the perceptions regarding the initial model. Two-part questions were used. In the first part, a Likert-type scale was used to gather perceptions regarding the degree of importance for each TQM and instructional supervision component. The second part consisted of 14 open-ended questions regarding the initial model. The second round questions consisted of modified items based on the first round results.

Data Analysis

In order to obtain critical information to revise the implementation model, the mean and standard deviation for each question were calculated. When the degree of importance for each component was above the midpoint on the Likert scale, the component was confirmed or added to the model. The responses from the open-ended questions were analyzed, and consensus opinions that evolved from the experts were used to revise the initial model. Two t-tests for two dependent samples were utilized to compare the variance and means in the first and second round questions to examine the degree of consensus (Hinkle, Wiersma, & Jurs, 1988).

Population and Sampling for the Attitude Study

The accessible population of the survey was comprised of administrators and teachers of vocational-technical programs in Iowa community colleges. This population was comprised of 1,068 professionals. Since the number of teachers and administrators was large, a stratified sampling method was used, with 150 professionals selected from six community colleges: Des Moines Area Community College, Hawkeye Community College, Iowa Western Community College, Kirkwood Community College, Northwest Iowa Community College, and North Iowa Community College. The 25 participants from each community college included 15 vocational-technical teachers and 10 administrators. An instrument was mailed to these subjects to obtain their attitudes towards the model.

Attitude Instrument Development

An attitude measuring instrument was developed in order to obtain the attitudes regarding the TQM model from the subjects. This instrument was approved by the Iowa State University Human Subjects Committee before the survey was conducted. Based on a literature review, this instrument was generated using the following procedures and principles:

  1. Modify the questions in the Delphi study to reflect the components and the procedures in the refined model.
  2. Employ the Delphi process to verify content validity.
  3. Conduct a pilot study to determine possible communication problems in the instrument.
  4. Modify the questions when necessary.
  5. Randomly arrange the questions selected.
  6. Finalize the instrument.

Data Collection and Analysis

The following steps were used to obtain the attitudes regarding the model from the Voc-Tech professionals:

  1. The model and the instrument were mailed to the selected subjects.
  2. A cover letter that introduced the purpose of the study and assured confidentiality of data was enclosed with each instrument.
  3. Each participant was asked to read the model and then complete the instrument.
  4. One administrator at each community college collected the completed instruments.

The data obtained from each subject were analyzed using the Statistical Analysis System (SAS). Means and standard deviations were generated and the ANOVA, general linear model, and bivariate correlational procedures were used to test the hypotheses.


Two rounds of surveys were completed in the Delphi study, with 27 experts participating in the first Delphi round and 20 experts completing the second Delphi round. In the Round One Delphi, two sections were used to form the first round Delphi instrument. Section one had two different questions used to solicit the perceived degree of importance for each TQM and instructional supervision component. Section two consisted of 14 questions designed to measure the panel's attitude regarding the model.

Six important TQM components were confirmed by the TQM experts in section one. All six components received high ratings (see Table 1) on the importance scale (means ranged from 5.13 to 6.80, with 1 = low, and 7 = high).

Table 1
Descriptive Statistics for the Important Score of Each TQM Component in the Round One Delphi

Component N Mean Std Dev

Customer driven quality 15 6.80 0.41
Teamwork 15 6.60 0.63
Top management commitment 15 6.80 0.78
TQM training 15 6.07 1.10
The utilization of statistical methods 15 5.13 1.64
Continuous improvement 15 6.80 0.56

Seven instructional supervision components were also confirmed based on the suggestions by the instructional supervision experts. The means for each component ranged from 4.69 to 6.83 (see Table 2). Since these TQM and instructional supervision components exceeded 4.00 in the Likert-type scale, they were confirmed and included in the model used for the second round Delphi.

Table 2
Descriptive Statistics of Each Instructional Supervision Component in the Round One Delphi

Component N Mean Std Dev

Customer driven quality 13 6.54 0.78
Peer coaching 13 5.69 0.95
Student feedback 13 6.23 0.83
Supervisor observation 13 4.69 1.25
Continuous improvement 13 6.62 0.77
The utilization of statistical methods 12 4.92 1.17

Fourteen items were included in section two of the Round One Delphi. Each item contained a seven-point Likert-type scale with space for comments about improvement. The mean scores on the Likert-type scale questions were from 4.23 to 5.48, and the standard deviation, from 1.15 to 1.93. In the Round Two Delphi, 21 questions were included. Mean scores ranged from 4.65 to 5.95, and standard deviations from 0.59 to 1.91.

Two hypotheses were tested to determine the degree of consensus and the change of attitude scores on the same questions in Round One and Round Two. Comparing the variances failed to yield differences between these two rounds. However, the raw attitude scores in the second round were higher (more positive) than those in the first round indicating a greater degree of consensus. The initial model was modified based on the results of these two rounds.

Attitude Survey

In the final survey, 102 Voc-Tech professionals completed the attitude instrument. After conducting the attitude survey, the mean and standard deviations for each question were calculated. Means ranged from 4.46 to 6.50 on the seven-point Likert-type scale. Standard deviations ranged from 0.81 to 1.93. The results showed that item one to item 29 were perceived positively by the participants.

In order to verify the attitude of the Voc-Tech professionals in different demographic categories, six hypotheses were tested. The independent variables included school, program, job title, TQM training in hours, and work experience in years. There were differences in attitude scores between the groups for each of the following independent variables: job title, program, and TQM training in hours. In addition, there was a significant interaction between school and TQM training in hours (see Table 3). The results of hypothesis testing for Delphi and attitude study are shown in Table 4.

Table 3
General Linear Model Summary for Testing Interaction Between the Independent Variables

Source DF SS Mean Square F Value Pr >

School Title 5 0.44 0.09 0.21 0.96
School Year 22 7.57 0.34 0.71 0.81
School Hour 21 17.60 0.84 2.92 0.01
School Program 13 5.62 0.43 0.96 0.50
Title Year 5 3.37 0.67 1.61 0.17
Title Program 3 2.82 0.94 2.33 0.08
Title Hour 5 2.11 0.42 1.04 0.40
Year Program 14 5.60 0.40 0.84 0.62
Year Hour 19 10.70 0.56 1.38 0.17
Program Hour 14 4.25 0.30 0.69 0.78

Table 4
Summary of Hypothesis Testing

  1. There were no differences in the overall variance of scores between Round Two and Round One.
  2. The overall mean in Round Two was higher than Round One.
  3. Administrators had more positive attitudes than teachers.
  4. There were no different attitudes between groups with different work experience in years.
  5. There were different attitudes between groups with different TQM training hours.
  6. There were different attitudes between Voc-Tech professionals who belonged to different vocational programs.
  7. There were different attitudes between Voc-Tech professionals who belonged to different community colleges.
  8. There was an interaction between schools and TQM training hours that affected attitude regarding the model.Description of the Model

This research focused on developing a quality instruction model for use in Voc-Tech programs. Six TQM components formed the basis for this model: (a) customer driven quality; (b) teamwork; (c) top management commitment, communication, and feedback; (d) TQM training; (e) the utilization of statistical methods; and (f) continuous improvement.

The basic tools for describing the model consist of three figures. Figure 1 lists the assumptions that were used when conceptualizing the model. Figure 2 provides a procedure for utilizing the model, and Figure 3 is a graphic representation of model processes and sub-processes.

After conducting the literature review, Delphi study, and attitude survey, a quality instruction model was generated and improved. This modified model includes seven assumptions, ten guidelines, and an overall flowchart (see Figure 1). This model promises to improve the quality of instruction in Iowa community college vocational technical programs.

Figure 1
Quality instructional supervision model assumptions.

  1. Top management/supervisors (administrators) have TQM and instructional supervision knowledge and fully support the model.
  2. The seven important components of the model are: customer driven quality; top management commitment at each stage; teamwork; communication and feedback; quality instruction training for all; continuous improvement; and data collection and analysis.
  3. Participants (teachers and administrators) understand basic model concepts/principles prior to addressing specific needs.
  4. Systematic Instructional System Development processes are appropriate for use in the model.
Quality instructional supervision model assumptions
  1. A supervisor collaborates with teachers during each stage.
  2. Teachers are motivated if they know what to expect and what will be measured.
  3. Students learn if they understand what is expected and what will be measured.

Figure 2
Implementation guidelines.

The following implementation guidelines are based on the outcomes of the study: (Delphi process)
  1. Involve students in the selection process and address their needs.
  2. Provide TQM training (20-40hrs.) to Voc-Tech professionals in the following areas:
    • problem-solving models
    • methods of utilizing teamwork
    • decision-making tools
    • data collection and analysis methods
  3. Understand that different TQM training at different community colleges affects thrusts of TQM training programs.
  4. Increase positive attitudes toward the process by providing TQM training and developing team communication skills prior to model implementation.
  5. Limit use of TQM statistical methods to proper application of a technique without fear.
  6. Include a wide representation on the steering committee (deans, department chairs/program leaders, teachers, peers, and industrial representatives).
  7. Include a wide representation on the quality improvement team (deans, department chairs/program leaders, teachers, peers, and industrial representatives).
  8. Focus of the steering committee should be on a particular Voc-Tech program.
  9. Focus of the quality improvement team should be on a single course or a group of related courses.
  10. A suitable area to initiate the model in a community college may be the health care program.

Figure 3
Quality instructional supervision model.

figure 4
(Click for Larger Image)

Three recommendations are also made to those interested in implementing a quality instruction model or conducting similar research.

  1. Apply the Quality Instruction Model in a Voc-Tech Program in Iowa community colleges so that the effectiveness of the model can be measured.
  2. Continuously improve the quality instruction model so that local needs can be addressed and the model will be more effective.
  3. Continuously improve the Delphi Technique for use in model development. However, trying to obtain consensus opinions from TQM and instructional supervision experts was difficult. Since these experts represented two areas, an improved means of communication should be addressed in future applications of the Delphi technique.

Seven instructional supervision components (teamwork, customer driven quality, peer coaching, student feedback, supervisor observation, continuous improvement, and the utilization of statistical methods) were also confirmed based on the suggestions by the instructional supervision experts. The panel ranked teamwork as the most important component. Supervisor observation and the utilization of statistical methods received the lowest scores. The model was refined by building on these important components of TQM and instructional supervision.

However, some difficulties were found, such as combining the perceptions of experts representing two different areas (TQM and instructional supervision), analyzing the open-ended questions, and the time-consuming nature of the process.

The attitude survey was used as the final step to determine the attitudes regarding the model of the Voc-Tech professionals. In general, this model received all positive agreement from the experts. The model was confirmed and refined based on the survey results. However, a positive attitude did not necessarily mean that the Voc-Tech professionals would totally accept the model. This study provides a basis for implementation.

Since the TQM and instructional supervision components of the model were confirmed through the literature review and the Delphi study, these components were also used in the development of the attitude instrument regarding the model. Through the combined process, the final survey instrument was validated and the reliability was confirmed at the 0.97 level using the Kuder-Richardson 21 formula.

Other important findings from the final survey include

  1. The instructional supervisor should focus on helping the teacher improve during the process, not just check the instruction quality at the end of the process.
  2. Students are the main customers in Voc-Tech programs, and they are more important than the employers.
  3. Voc-Tech professionals recognize that the students must be involved in the instructional process but not at all steps.
  4. Professional improvement plans that are created by the instructional supervisors and teachers can be used to continuously improve the quality of instruction.
  5. Merit pay (based on performance) systems should not be emphasized. Since the standard deviation was larger than that of other questions, no strong consensus opinions were present.


Chao is Associate Professor, Department and Graduate Institute of Industrial Education, National Changhua University of Education, Changhua, Taiwan, R.O.C..

Dugger is Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Industrial Education and Technology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.


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Reference Citation: Chao, C.-Y., & Dugger, J. C. (1996). A total quality management model for instructional supervision in vocational technical programs. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 33(4), 23-35.

Tracy Gilmore