experiments, instruments & measurement book

Measuring Connection

by Sheryl Glickman, Hollis Hills Jewish Center

The goals of our new initiative called Kesher Connection are to help participants develop a sense of community and build relationships with each other and across generations.  We want them to be involved in life long learning with this population and be on a journey of applying Torah to daily life.  We cultivated a community of ten coach families who will be paired with other school families.  After four training sessions with coaches we were ready to launch our 1st joint program.  In addition to beginning the nurturing process of creating relationships between families we chose Shabbat practice for our programs.

We wanted to create a baseline survey that would give us information on several levels. This survey would be taken by coach and school families.  We wanted to know how connected people felt to others at HHJC.  We wanted to know where they might be interacting.  We also wanted to know their ideas and interest in Jewish ideas and practice.  Taking this survey at the onset of the program would allow us to have a comparison of changes after our 4 sessions with families and also their spending time with coach families on Shabbat.  It might also be helpful to have participants take the survey midway through the program as a means of tracking progress as well as seeing changes.

Suri Jacknis, our Jewish Education Project Consultant, and I first fine tuned our goals for the initiative.  We then began creating questions that would speak to those outcomes.  We tried to be very careful with our wording and the way questions were formulated.  We did not want to offend anyone or appear to be prying into their private lives.  We tried to balance our questions asking first about how people felt toward others in the synagogue community and then about their views on living Jewish lives.  We also wanted an open ended final question where people could write their own thoughts, suggestions and ideas.

The survey was distributed in a packet of information each family received.  It was pointed out to them and asked to be turned in before they left.  Although the survey did not ask for names they were precoded on the back so that we could track responses.  We also included 2 surveys in each packet and asked both parents to do a separate one.  The majority of participants did not do this.  With few exceptions we received only one survey per family.  Approximately 80% of those who attended returned the survey.

As we move through this process we hope that the results of this first baseline survey and subsequent survey will help us tailor future programs and measure whether we are achieving our outcomes.       

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