2008-01-20 11:24 PM

CANI in Teaching

I ran across the term CANI while learning about kaizen. CANI stands for Continuous And Never-ending Improvement, which is the same idea embodied in the Japanese word kaizen. Deming is the father-figure of the modern quality movement and brought the term kaizen back from Japan. Supposedly Tony Robbins decided to rebrand the idea with an American moniker and came up with CANI. Whatever it’s source, the concept of continuous improvement sets an interesting direction.

During my time teaching at the college level I discovered an aspect of teaching that is generally hidden from students. I felt like Dorothy skipping along singing “Rubrics, evaluations, and professional development! Oh my!”And like Dorothy I found that rather than being scary they became quite helpful in getting me further down the yellow brick road.

For those unfamiliar with these ideas here is a quick synopsis.

  • Rubrics are comparable to goal setting in a personal development setting. They are the criteria for how grades are assigned, which hopefully reflects a student’s mastery of the material. Good rubrics go beyond homeworks and tests. In fact a really well done rubric will make it clear what homework and tests are most appropriate for measuring understanding.
  • Teacher/course evaluations are filled out by the students as a form of feedback on how the teacher is doing. Because they are anonymous and administered near the end of the course the seriousness of responses vary widely. Those students who take the evaluations seriously can help a teacher “see the forest for the trees” but often they just nit-pick about the homeworks or tests — validly if the assignments are arbitrary instead of being outcome driven.
  • Professional development consists of activities intended to improve teaching abilities. Taking short courses, workshops, or other continuing education can all contribute to an improved learning experience for the students.

Here are a few key aspects needed for continuous improvement: you must know what your goal is, how well you are doing now, and how you will determine how well you are doing in the future. This is similar to planning a road trip — where are we going, where are we now, and how will we know when we are going the right direction?

Do you know where you are going? Where are you starting from?
How will you determine when you are getting closer to your goals?

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan No Comments »

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