Kaizen in university teaching: continuous course improvement

Ingo Kregel (Department of Applied Business and Technology Management, Fachhochschule S¨dwestfalen, Hagen, Germany)

International Journal of Lean Six Sigma

ISSN: 2040-4166

Publication date: 27 April 2019



The current evaluation standards in German higher education institutions (HEIs) do not often lead to measurable quality improvement. The purpose of this paper is to critically evaluate whether Kaizen can improve the quality of teaching. The presented concept illustrates the evaluation of each course unit to continuously encourage quality feedback from the learners and intensify the exchange with lecturers.


Action research is used to combine the continuous improvement philosophy of Kaizen with student course evaluations. A pilot study of the concept provides data from four course cycles to analyze learnings and setbacks.


Learners in the pilot courses welcomed the intense participation and allowed improvements to elements such as course concept, course material, presentation style and content or detail selection. The participation rate declined during each term and was highly influenced by triggers like exam and grade relevance. Kaizen could successfully improve course quality, especially in the first two years of newly developed courses.

Research limitations/implications

The presented results have been collected from one course over four years in one institution. The next stage of research would be the application of the approach in other institutions to validate results and make potential adjustments to the concept, for example, toward continuous learning.


Although course evaluation has become standard in German HEIs, most institutions only implement it once per term or year. This paper discusses a new approach to expedite the evaluation of teaching quality at the point of action (Gemba) to facilitate the short-term reactions of lecturers.



Kregel, I. (2019), "Kaizen in university teaching: continuous course improvement", International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJLSS-08-2018-0090

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