10 Basic Quality Tools for the Classroom

10 Basic Quality Tools for the Classroom

There are numerous quality tools that staff and students may use to enhance participation in group processes, to problem solve, and to analyze and monitor progress. The following quality tools are among the most frequently used tools. Several resources are available to staff and students who wish to broaden their knowledge, use, and application of quality tools.

Plus Delta

Plus delta tool example

Plus deltas can be used by the class or individual students to determine what is working (pluses) as well as what is not working, translated into opportunities for improvement (deltas). Pluses and deltas are reinforced or reviewed in follow-up sessions or instruction.

Examples: Evaluation of a lesson, a project, a class process or procedure, or the school day or part of the school day. 


Example of  consensogram  quality tool

Consensograms can be used by the class as a pre assessment/post assessment tool to gauge the students’ understanding, knowledge base, or feelings before and after a task over time.

Examples: Assessment of students’ feelings about a class or school day at the beginning and at the end of the day or week or of students’ understanding or comfort level with curricular processes or content. 

Force Field Analysis

Example of  force field analysis  quality tool

Force field analysis can be used by the class or individual students to analyze those behaviors or beliefs that may be “driving” or “preventing” the attainment of goals/objectives. “Preventers” are then used to develop action plans as opportunities for improvement. This tools is especially helpful when groups have determined a common goal, have data to prove that the goal is not met, and want to begin analyzing root causes.

Examples: Analysis of a project, test or exam results, or weekly/monthly/quarterly progress. 

Affinity Diagram

Example of affinity diagram quality tool

Affinity diagrams can be used by the class or individual students to brainstorm information and ideas which are then organized into categories.

Examples: Grouping of curricular concepts, ideas, or vocabulary into categories to facilitate learning; grouping of actions or beliefs into categories to facilitate problem-solving, writing mission statements, etc. 


Example of survey quality tool

Surveys can be used by the teacher or class to collect information on student and stakeholder perceptions to provide a broader base for decision making. Surveying may be used to determine expectations, needs, and levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The information is then analyzed and used to make effective change.

Examples: Surveying student perceptions (needs, expectations, and levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction) about instruction, class or school processes or procedures, etc. Informal discussion, open-ended inquiries, needs assessments, and informal polls in addition to surveys may be used collect information. 

Flow Chart

Example of flow chart quality tool

Flow charts can be used by the class or individual students to clearly define, communicate, and monitor multi-step processes.

Examples: routines for certain periods of the day, course expectations such as labs, art classes.

Bone Diagram

bone diagram image

Bone diagrams can be used by the class or individual students to define the current state and the desired state; steps are then identified for reaching the desired state.

Examples: Steps to reach a desired goal in reading, writing, algebra, English, history, etc; steps in getting organized with data notebooks/folders, completing a long-term project; steps to increase on-task behaviors.

Issue Bin

wlba 85

Issue bins can be used by the students to note ideas, questions, or issues constructively while the class continues to focus on an activity or lesson.

Examples: class chart where students may note questions or issues that they would like to have addressed at an appropriate time in the future.


Graph tool example

Graphs can be used by the class and individual students to chart, organize, analyze, and display data for decision-making, drawing conclusions, and making recommendations.

Examples: Pareto or bar charts for data graphed in descending order; scatter diagrams for charting two variables; and run charts to measure progress over time. 

Action Plan

Example of actiona plan quality tool

Action plans can be used by the class or individual students to record tasks that need to be completed in order to reach targeted goals. An action plan designates persons responsible, timelines, resources needed, and monitoring/ evaluation tools.

Examples: action plans to outline actions to achieve a goal or procedure/process.

PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act)

PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) refers to a four-step improvement cycle for organizing and managing change and continuous improvement. This cycle was developed by Dr. Walter Shewhart in the 1920s and put into business practice in Japan and the United States by W. Edwards Deming. (Embedded in the PDSA cycle are quality tools to facilitate the process.) It is a strategy used to encourage groups to determine goals, monitor progress, and make rapid changes when results are not achieved

PDSA Cycle

Example of PDSA chart

Example of PDSA chart

The PDSA cycle for continuous improvement can be used by the class or individual students to:

  • determine areas that need to be improved to guide the development of an improvement plan (Plan)
  • implement the improvement plan (Do)
  • analyze whether or not the improvement strategy is making a difference (Study)
  • use the data to make decisions (Act)

Note: When acting upon the results of the PDSA cycle, it is equally important to sustain an action that brings the desired results as it is to reinitiate the PDSA cycle when the desired results are not obtained.

Examples: When goals/objectives (academic or behavioral) for the class or individual student are not reached, analyze the cause and develop a plan for alternative approaches or interventions. Implement the intervention and study the results. Act upon the results. (See the Glossary for an explanation and application of the PDSA cycle and "My Job, Your Job, Our Job: Bulding a Classroom Learning System" for applications of the PDSA cycle.)