< back to the main view >

Continual Quality Improvement

My theories and methods for continual quality improvement are applied and implied in
Wheeldon, J. & Ahlberg, M. 2011 Visualizing Social Science Research: Maps, Methods, & Meaning. London: SAGE.
(ISBN: 9781412991049)

Personal history

In 1992 one of my doctoral students, Mr. Petteri Nevalainen, MSc had possibility to make research on learning and implementation process of ISO 9000 for small and medium size business organizations. I started to think, how main theories and tools of quality movement (e.g. Total Quality Management, Total Quality Control, ISO 9000 etc.) might apply to education. The literature is enormous, theories, practices and tools are messy. Using my earlier developed idea of continually integrating those theories, which stand continual theoretical and empirical testing, I developed my own integrating tentative theory of Continual Quality Improvement (Åhlberg 1997, 1998a - 1998c). Theory of continual quality improvement is a part of more general theory of Education for sustainable development.

These kinds of theories are not only descriptive, they are also normative. They try to express what probably is the wisest way to act, if we want to improve our thinking and practice. Normative theories ought to be well grounded and justified, they ought to have sound underpinnings. That is what I tried to do. Continual Quality Improvement is defined as all efforts to improve organizations, processes, products, services etc. in the past, present and in the future. Quality is defined as optimal satisfaction of real human needs, not any whimsies, fancies etc. In my theory there are at present over 35 well justified claims in the theory, e.g. 'It is best to act on basis of win-win-principle'. There is almost always possibilities to make decisions and act so that all the concerned win in long run. It is even possible to act so that the whole humankind wins in long run. The other example: 'In (post)modern society, you become empowered both by organizations and by networking informally by those people who have similar interests, and by whom you are able to do win-win-decisions'. Best international research cooperation so far has been with Professor Patrick Dillon and Dr John Robinson (Åhlberg. & Dillon 2003, Åhlberg & Robinson 2003, Åhlberg, Turja, & Robinson 2003).

In earlier quality literature they make a difference between seven classic quality tools and tens of new quality tools. I have introduced three new quality tools (Improved Concept Mapping, Improved Vee Heuristics and ARRA or Analysis of Reasoning, Rhetorics and Argumentation ) to monitor and promote learning, thinking and acting in continual quality improvement.

I have supervised many Masters' Theses of continual quality improvement of school and business organizations. One of my students, Ms. Elina Mäkinen (elina.makinen@sly.fi ) became the Section Manager of the Finnish Society for Quality. Another of my doctoral students, Mr. Petteri Nevalainen, MSc. (petteri.nevalainen@bof.fi ) became first a project leader of quality improvement in the Department of Education, City of Helsinki, later he was appointed to Human Resources Officer in the Bank of Finland


Åhlberg, M. 1997. Jatkuva laadunparantaminen korkealaatuisena oppimisena. [Continual Quality Improvement as High Quality Learning]. University of Joensuu. Research Reports of the Faculty of Education N:o 68.

Åhlberg, M. 1998a. Kestävän kehityksen pedagogiikka ja yleisdidaktiikka. University of Joensuu. Bulletins of the Faculty of Education. N:o 71.

Åhlberg, M. 1998b. Ecopedagogy and ecodidactics: Education for Sustainable Development, Good Environment and Good Life. University of Joensuu. Bulletins of the Faculty of Education. N:o 69.

Åhlberg, M. 1998c. Education for sustainability, good environment and good life. In Åhlberg, M. & Leal Filho, W. (Eds.) 1998. Environmental education for sustainability: good environment, good life. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 25 - 43.

Åhlberg, M. & Dillon, P. 1999. Materials for Constructivistic Environmental Education, mainly to be used in pre-service and in-service teacher education: An integrating approach to environmental learning. In De Paz, M. & Pilo, M. (Eds.) 1999. European Project for Environmental Education. A Curriculum for European Schools. Genoa: University of Genoa, Italy, 3 - 33. [Published also digitally:
http://www.fisica.unige.it/~ilgioco/progetto/ahlberg/ahlberg/ahlberg.html ]
(Read 10. 3. 2003).

Åhlberg, M. & Dillon, P. 2003. Integrating education: For quality of life and a good environment (manuscript).

Åhlberg, M. & Robinson, J. 2003. An exploration of Education for Sustainability in the field practice schools of pre-service education students using tools for reflective practice. Submitted for publication.

Åhlberg, M., Turja, L. & Robinson, J. 2003. Educational research and development to promote sustainable development in the city of Helsinki: Helping the accessible Helsinki Programme 2001 - 2011 to achieve its goals. Accepted to be published in International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development Vol. 2, N:o 2.

Wheeldon, J. & Ahlberg, M. 2011 Visualizing Social Science Research: Maps, Methods, & Meaning. London: SAGE. (ISBN: 9781412991049)


< back to the main view >