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A new lean paradigm in higher education: a case study

Mark S. Doman (Human Resource Development Department, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, USA)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 12 July 2011




This case study aims to demonstrate that lean principles and practices utilized in industry can be successfully applied to improve higher education administrative processes through an innovative and engaging learning experience involving undergraduate students.


This is a first‐hand account by the instructor of a small group of undergraduate students in a seminar course working as a team to identify waste and redesign the university's grade change administrative process.


This case study found that a small group of undergraduate students can quickly learn basic lean principles, tools and practices, and reinforce that learning by applying them in a team effort to significantly improve a university administrative process.

Practical implications

With the changing higher education environment, where efficiency and effectiveness have become more imperative due to increasing budget constraints and competition for students, this case study shows that students can play a major role in the improvement of university administrative processes while at the same time gaining new knowledge and skills that are highly valued in industry.


This case study confirms an opportunity for universities to create a valuable learning experience for their undergraduate students, by involving them in improving the administrative processes of the university.



Doman, M.S. (2011), "A new lean paradigm in higher education: a case study", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 248-262.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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