3.4.1 Learn by analysing factors that contribute to quality

Based on results of the monitoring and assessment carried out under responsibility of the quality department, an analysis of your performance (in relation to your quality objectives and previously set targets) has to be made. You will discover your positive results as well as your failures – and the organisation should learn from both to improve its quality.

Usually it is easier to look into achievements than to analyse failures, because failures must be admitted and accepted before they can be corrected. For analysis of both achievements and failures, it is extremely useful to be aware of the factors that could have caused the positive and the negative effects. To improve quality, one has to know and change the factors that caused these effects.

An initial overview of basic causal factors in VET is given in Figure 8, which is constructed according to the cause-and-effect model developed by and named after the Japanese quality theorist Kaouro Ishikawa. The diagram shows causes leading to or significantly affecting an intended result; it can be applied in many areas to analyse if and how certain factors have contributed to quality and is therefore widely used.


Figure 8. Basic factors contributing to quality in VET

Source: CEDEFOP.


As shown in Figure 8, a certain quality effect might have been produced by management of the VET institution, teachers and trainers, or by available equipment, but external stakeholders, the curriculum content or the pedagogical methods used could have been crucial factors as well.


Box 23. Ishikawa diagram

The Ishikawa diagram is a tool for analysis and generating ideas for problem-solving and improvement. It is an illustration of cause and effect, where the intended effect is placed at the right end of an arrow, while main causes are noted on either side of the effect ‘bone’ with subcauses linked to the main factors.


In practice, interplay of the responsible factors is particularly important, of course, but for analytical purposes, the causal contribution of each factor should be analysed separately as well. In Figure 9 the basic causal factors of quality in VET are further differentiated. The deeper the analysis of potential causal factors is, the clearer the emerging options for taking action towards improving quality are.

Figure 9 shows that, for example management could strengthen its leadership capacities, teachers and trainers could acquire more practical experience, and external VET authorities could be asked to replace obsolete technical equipment.


Figure 9. Major and minor factors contributing to quality in VET

Source: CEDEFOP.