experiments, instruments & measurement book

Design Principles

This report was originally produced as part of a larger report of findings entitled Spreading and Sustaining Innovation: Accomplishments and Lessons Learned. Background information about the Coalition of Innovating Congregations, the partner organizations, and the initiatives for congregations are found in the full report. The full report and executive summary are available online and for download at www.innovatingcongregations.org/all.
Download this article as a pdf or view the full report

 

Relationship Between New Models and Principles of 21st Century Learning

When educational approaches are carefully grounded in clear and well-conceived educational models, they can result in different, alternative, ways of doing things…alternative models are correlated with higher levels of implementation of the design principles. It is possible to achieve substantial educational change through a path focused on new models. It is possible to attend to relationships without sacrificing educational content. Models that feature intergenerational learning, learning in real-time or authentic settings, and that engage the whole family and not just children enable 21st Century learning. Full-time teachers also increase the likelihood of implementing 21st Century learning.

In order to learn about the relationship between whole person learning models and educational quality, as operationally defined by the enactment of 21st century design principles, the Coalition to Sustain Innovation (CSI) engaged Rosov Consulting to conduct a study. The following Executive Summary is taken from their final report on Phase II of the study and concludes that “the four design principles of 21st century whole person learning are being more fully implemented within alternative models for congregation-based Jewish education than in traditional models for congregation-based Jewish education.”

Executive Summary Of Report From Rosov Consulting

This paper reports on findings from Phase II of the research on The Jewish Education Project/ECE Leadership team’s LOMED initiative in congregational schools.

The Jewish Education Project, the Experiment in Congregational Education, and the Leadership Institute of JTS and HUC-JIR have been working with over 50 congregations in the New York metropolitan area – which make up the Coalition of Innovating Congregations. LOMED (Learner Outcomes and Measurement for Effective Education Design), a project of this collaborative effort, fosters a deep rethinking of the structure, orientation and nomenclature of learning in congregational contexts. Participating congregation are encouraged to employ models of whole person learning that are grounded in design principles of 21st Century Jewish education: 1) learning will be anchored in caring purposeful relationships; 2) learning will seek to answer the questions, challenges, and meaning of everyday life; 3) learning will enable individuals to construct their own meaning through inquiry, problem solving, and discovery; and 4) learning will be content-rich and accessible.

In a previous phase of work, a team from Rosov Consulting studied a sample of LOMED congregations with the aim of gaining insight into their programs. The three main objectives at that time included understanding how design principles were being implemented, analyzing opportunities and constraints of implementation, and developing a protocol for assessing the quality of educational experiences operationalized through these design principles.

This second phase of the study answers two broad questions:

  1. To what degree are the four design principles of 21st Century whole person learning being implemented within alternative models for congregation-based Jewish education, as compared with traditional models of Jewish education? Specifically, how extensively have these four design principles been implemented in learning activities that have been supported by LOMED resources?
  2. What has enabled the implementation of the principles of 21st Century whole person learning, and what has limited the implementation of the principles?

In this phase of the study, a total of 79 observations were conducted of both LOMED and non-LOMED activities. Protocols and observational reports were completed for each visit. Protocols rated the implementation of the four design principals on a scale of 1-4. Observational reports provided accounts of the content of the observation. The data were then analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively.

This report focuses on the major findings in comparing the implementation of the four design principles. As well, there is a discussion of the different factors that influence the extent of implementation.

Findings

Design Principle Implementation

The data collected from the protocols assessed the degree to which each design principle (DP) was implemented. The results were then analyzed by comparing DP implementation across different educational contexts and in relation to different variables.

  1. Comparing activities in different settings

The research team compared LOMED funded activities, with both Non-LOMED funded activities in congregations that receive LOMED funding, and Non-LOMED congregations. We found that LOMED funded learning activities in LOMED congregations consistently implemented the design principles more fully than did either of the other two groups. Among the other two groups, on average, all four design principles were implemented more fully in activities within Non-LOMED congregations than in the non- LOMED funded learning activities in LOMED congregations.

  1. Comparing denominations

Comparing the implementation of the design principles across Conservative and Reform congregations, we found that, on average, DP1 (developing caring relationships) and DP4 (rich content) were more highly implemented in Conservative congregations. DP2 (seeking answers to the questions of everyday life) and DP3 (the construction of meaning) were more fully implemented in Reform congregations. It seems that the educational models in these Conservative congregations have been influenced by synagogue cultures that place emphasis on the development of Jewish skills. By contrast, the models in Reform congregations seem to have been influenced by cultures that emphasize meaning-making and the search for relevance.

  1. Comparing different educational practices (models)

Throughout our observation of learning activities in LOMED congregations, the research team noted the prevalence of three types of educational practices within the alternative models that congregations employ, and that were strongly related to the implementation of the design principles:

(i)    Real-time learning: This type of practice takes place in real-time rather than in an artificially designated setting. This includes, for example, having an opportunity to make sense of shacharit as part of a Shabbat morning service rather than in a class conducted on a weekday afternoon, or learning about tikkun olam by volunteering in a soup kitchen.

(ii)  Family activities: This type of practice conceives of the family as the learner rather than conceiving of the child in isolation as the educational client. Sometimes this practice is expressed in joint family learning and sometimes in parallel programs.

(iii) Near peer activities: This type of practice is grounded in relational elements that connect young people of different ages, and that expose younger children to near peer role models. This practice is frequently manifested in older students acting as teachers or guides for younger students.

Consistently, all four design principles were more fully implemented in the activities that involved one of these three types of practices than they were in activities that didn’t.

  1. Comparing Full-Time with Part-Time Facilitators

Activities involving full time facilitators consistently implemented the design principles more fully when compared to those activities presented by part time facilitators. This pattern confirms what was suggested to our team by program administrators: that the employment of full-time learning facilitators increases the likelihood of implementing the design principles probably because such educators are better informed about and more experienced in the practices of whole person learning.

A Framework for Understanding Effective Change

We identified three forces that enable or impede the implementation of the principles of whole person learning. These forces operate at three different orders of scale and with different degrees of flexibility.

  1. Contextual factors: These forces cannot be changed without a complete overhaul of the congregational culture. Contextual factors include denomination, location, etc.
  2. Intensifiers. Less fixed than the contextual factors, there are other broad forces that shape the implementation of the design principles. We call these forces intensifiers because they have potential to inform the implementation of the design principles across the congregation, through, for example, full-time educational directors, full time facilitators, or extensive professional development.
  3. Educational models: As described above, the design principles are fully aligned with the assumptions of these educational practices. Other models where the same practices likely operate in similar ways create a fertile environment in which the design principles can more readily be implemented.

Our data suggest that use of appropriate educational models exerts greater influence on the implementation of the design principles than any other tier of forces. The differences the research team found between activities that employ these alternative models and those that did not were greater than in any other set of comparisons that the research team conducted. This suggests – although this is a conclusion that needs further testing – that the most readily altered forces – the models and practices that educators choose to employ – may also have the greatest influence on the implementation of the design principles.

Implications

In considering how to extend implementation of the design principles to a greater number of educational models and activities in the congregations, our data indicate that when educational approaches are carefully grounded in clear and well-conceived educational models they can result in different, alternative, ways of doing things. This is likely why alternative models are correlated with higher levels of implementation of the design principles. The findings suggest that in contrast to approaches that focus on professional development for teachers or on transforming the entire congregation, it is possible to achieve substantial educational change through a middle path focused on new models.

One promising means for supporting the process of educational change, and for scaling up the kinds of educational practices that LOMED seeks to nurture, is provided by the very protocol developed as part of this study for the purposes of evaluation. Because the protocol offers such a precise detailing of the components of good practice, it can be more than a tool for evaluation; it can also be a tool for teaching and design. When, for example, Education Directors work with learning facilitators to develop their practice, they can use the protocol to structure the content of their conversations and to stimulate the self-examination of educational practice.

Conclusion

Our 79 observations found that the four design principles of 21st Century whole person learning are being implemented to widely varying degrees in the 12 congregations we observed, ranging from limited to high levels of implementation. Furthermore, the implementation of different design principles is fully possible alongside one another. Our observations point to a definitive conclusion: the four design principles of 21st century whole person learning are being more fully implemented within alternative models for congregation-based Jewish education than in traditional models for congregation-based Jewish education. Despite sampling constraints, consistent patterns of differences were seen between alternative and traditional models of Jewish education.

 

This report represents nearly five years of data collection, analysis, and reflection. We wish to thank our consultants Cindy Reich (the Experiment in Congregational Education) and Anna Marx (The Jewish Education Project) for their work in compiling this report as well as collecting and analyzing much of the data presented in the report. We also gratefully acknowledge Cyd Weissman, Director of Innovation in Congregational Learning at The Jewish Education Project, for her leadership, The Experiment in Congregational Education and its director, Dr. Rob Weinberg for taking the lead in coordinating the evaluation efforts for the Collaboration to Sustain Innovation, and Dr. Bill Robinson, Chief Strategy Officer of The Jewish Education Project for his guidance and insight.

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