The state of lean education in secondary and higher educaiton: A qualitative review and analysis
After the financial crisis of 2008, many school districts, colleges and universities across the US in particular and the world in general were increasingly under pressure due to a decline in governmental funds and growth of student population. Per the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015–2016 school year was $32,405 at private colleges, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges, and $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. And the national average of spending per student, by school district and adjusted for regional differences, for primary and unified school districts is $11,841 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016). This leads to many scholars trying to apply Lean concepts and tools to the educational sector to address the problems caused by the even increasing educational costs. This qualitative study explored the state of Lean applications in secondary and higher education institutions that contributed to the generation of three significant themes. The themes are (1) Lean unawareness in secondary and higher education, (2) the rise of Lean secondary education and Lean higher education, and (3) Using Lean philosophy to enhance instructional efficiency and effectiveness in secondary and higher education. Lean practices in higher education may be more evident when it comes to financial related processes or other administrative related processes as well, although they may not appear under the name of “Lean”, but they do use involve Lean principles and methodologies in essence. On the other hand, much of the extant research in secondary education suggests how to teach, and the best way to teach. Although the process of teaching and learning is considered financially driven, and the pros and cons of the American way of funding the secondary education school system can still be argued, limited research has been conducted on how to improve the management of schools’ resources and how to make the management process more efficient.