experiments, instruments & measurement book

Whole Person Learning Models

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.
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Congregations’ Abilities To Enact Whole Person Learning Models

When examining how well-established new models are in congregations, a few factors emerged with relationship to more developed or established models: participation in Leadership Institute and/or The RE-IMAGINE Project, length of time working on educational innovation, and current Coalition initiatives – LOMED and LOMED Chadash. No relationships were observed between the models’ development and congregational size, Movement, tenure of leadership, or operation of multiple models, indicating that congregations are not inhibited by Movement, size, tenure of their leadership, or operating multiple models when establishing a model in their systems.

Introduction

As referenced in the Background section above, an education model is a structure within which educational experiences take place. A model has an overarching purpose for its participants. To achieve its purpose a model delineates when and where learning takes place, who the learners are, and who guides the learning. In contrast to a program, an educational model operates on a regular, ongoing, and frequent schedule. It introduces a set of roles, rules, regularities and processes that together form a “grammar” of how learning and learners are organized; it can be thought of as the ongoing “outer architecture” of educational experience. Models alone do not produce educational outcomes, but they provide a configuration in which learning happens. Certain models are better suited to particular educational goals and experiences than others.

Since the middle of the 20th Century, most congregations have provided education through a model known as religious school or Hebrew school. The purposes, structures, and procedures of this model borrow from and resemble American public schools, created during the industrial age and designed for acquisition of academic knowledge. LOMED challenged and supported congregations to revisit the goals for their educational endeavors and to move toward education that addresses the whole person, speaks to the existential questions of learners, builds relationships, connects to daily life, and is content-rich. The traditional school model, designed for children learning by age cohort in classrooms with a teacher, is not the most effective way to embed these principles nor to achieve Jewish educational goals such as those targeted by LOMED congregations:

  • Learners will be on a journey of applying Torah to daily life.
  • Learners will be on a spiritual journey rooted in Jewish tradition.
  • Learners will be in an ongoing dynamic relationship with Am Yisrael and/or Eretz Yisrael.
  • Learners will be on a journey of mending the world, guided by a Jewish moral compass.

Key researchers in Jewish education and identity formation identify qualities of models that develop the whole person; they enable experience and reflection, attend to each person, engage the family, build relationships and community and redefine the role of the teacher. Through their work in LOMED and Express Innovation, congregations created or adapted models that are more conducive to new goals and aspirations for learners, guided by these principles.

Congregations establish, implement, and develop new educational models at varying rates. CSI[1] wanted to understand more the patterns, pace, and extent of model development. To do so, they created a rubric that spelled out the components of a model and developed a scale for assessing the degree of development (from emerging to established) for each component. The rubric also made it possible to create a composite score for a model.

The process for building the rubric involved both inductive and deductive thought processes. The team developing the rubric looked at robust models, both traditional and innovative, and identified common elements. In addition, they looked at literature on the “grammar of schooling” from both general and religious education. To check for face validity they asked practitioners to examine the components and to provide feedback.

This report summarizes the results of the investigation into understanding the stage of model development in each of the LOMED and LOMED Chadash congregations. Along with gathering information about congregations, this investigation was a pilot in using the rubric.

Using the LOMED grant applications for 2012-2013 as a source of information about congregations in the Coalition and their educational innovations, two readers assigned scores for each of the following components on the scale of Emerging (1) to Well Developed (5) for the following components:

  • Purpose: There is an overarching goal (or goals) for the educational experience over time, capturing the aspirations for participants—children, adults and families.
  • Structure: There are established arrangements for when learning takes place, where learning takes place, who the learners are, who plans the learning, and who guides the learning.
  • Procedures: There are established processes for conducting all aspects of the educational enterprise.
  • Language: There is a vocabulary to name and describe all aspects of the educational enterprise. These are used in formal and informal communication, with agreed upon definitions by participants in the system.
  • Alignment: The “how” of education supports the “why” of education. Procedures, structures, and activities are designed intentionally to lead to the goals and are conducive to the accomplishment of the goals.
  • Integration: The elements of the educational enterprise are connected to one another, and to other aspects of congregational life. Education is not an isolated function in the congregation. There is consistency across the goals and principles of all educational offerings—within and across age cohorts.
  • Normative: Rather than being seen as an alternative, a supplement, an experiment, or as “lesser,” it is the only educational choice or one choice among several considered by the congregation to be of equal value and importance.
  • Regularized: Its activities happen on a pre-arranged schedule, and take place repeatedly over the course of a year, (with a frequency of at least once per month).

The (non-weighted) scores were summed across elements for a total score out of a possible 40 points. In order to better understand the total scores, the following categories were created to describe stages of development:

  • Emerging (11-19 points)
  • Developing (20-27 points)
  • Fairly Developed (28-35 points)
  • Established (36-40 points)

The development stage categories were selected based on the total score that would represent an equal score in each component of 2 (16 points), 3 (24 points), 4 (32 points), and 5 (40 points). The ranges represent a distribution around that score.

It is important to note that this study was conducted to understand how emergent or developed the Coalition models are and what factors, if any, seem to have a relationship with the stage of the models’ development. Factors are demographic (e.g. congregational size and movement) and programmatic (e.g. initiative and the number of models in operation). It is not intended to evaluate the quality of any of the models. A “high” score indicates that the model is more developed as a model (rather than a program), not that it is “better.” Similarly, a “low” score indicates that the model is still in an emerging state, not that it is “bad.”

About the Coalition Congregations in the Study

Leadership Tenure

On average, Directors of Education have been in place for 7.35 years (7.70 years in LOMED and 6.64 in LOMED Chadash). On average, the senior rabbis have been in place for 10.83 years (11.76 years in LOMED, 8.67 years in LOMED Chadash).

RE-IMAGINE Project and Leadership Institute Participation

Of the 32 congregations participating in LOMED and Chadash in 2012-13, 12 congregations (32%) participated in both The RE-IMAGINE Project (RE-IMAGINE) and the Leadership Institute. An additional 14 congregations (38%) participated in Leadership Institute only, and 6 additional congregations (16%) participated in RE-IMAGINE only.

Number of Models

Two-thirds of LOMED (13) and one-third of LOMED Chadash (5) congregations are currently operating more than one model. About one-third of LOMED (7) and LOMED Chadash (3) congregations have one or more non-classroom models that have been eliminated (are no longer in use).[2]

Table1

Findings

The following sections describe the findings from the Model Development Study, including general results (most and least developed components and the overall development scores), and the factors that were examined for a relationship with the development scores.

Components and Scores

Most and Least Developed Components

In both LOMED and LOMED Chadash congregations, the most developed components were Structure, Purpose, and Regularized. The least developed components were Language, Integration, Normative, and Alignment.

The study team wondered if certain elements of a model took more time to develop than others. Did it take longer to establish a special vocabulary for the model? Did it take longer to establish the model as normative in the congregation?

In order to explore these questions, they looked to see if there were relationships between average scores on each element and the number of years the congregation was in the initiative[3]. Using SPSS, they conducted an independent samples t-test and compared the average scores of LOMED (N=21) and LOMED Chadash (N=11) congregations on each element, as well as the average total scores.

The analysis showed a statistically significant difference between LOMED and LOMED Chadash congregations on scores for structure (p=.013), procedures (p=.008), language (p=.005), alignment (p=004), integration (p=.006), being normative (p=.026), and in the total score (p=.001). There was NOT a statistically significant difference between the LOMED and LOMED Chadash congregations on scores for purpose (p=.107) or the model’s being regularized (p=.115).

These tests suggest that congregations began to work on the model’s purpose and regularity from the beginning as they established the model. This may be because these components were emphasized in the network-wide learning for congregations and in the work of the consultants with the congregations. It may also be that the less developed elements take more time and effort to implement, or congregations may have started later to work on the other elements.

Overall Scores

Forty percent of congregations (13) received an Emerging score, an additional third (10) received a Developing score, and nine (9) congregations – all LOMED – received Fairly Developed or Established scores.

Table2

Factors

In looking at a number of demographic and programmatic factors in comparison with congregations’ scores, three areas emerged as having some relationship with the score:

  • Current Initiative: whether a congregation was currently part of LOMED or LOMED Chadash,
  • Additional Initiatives: whether a congregation participated in Leadership Institute or RE-IMAGINE, and
  • Time: How long a congregation had been engaged in this series of change initiatives.

Current Intervention (LOMED and LOMED Chadash)

Scores for LOMED congregations were well distributed across stages of model development: 6 were Emerging, 6 were Developing, 7 were Fairly Developed, and 2 were Established. In contrast, all LOMED Chadash congregations scored in either the Emerging (7) or Developing (4) stages.

Graph1

LOMED congregations’ models, on average, are more developed than those of LOMED Chadash congregations. LOMED congregations also received a broader range of scores than LOMED Chadash congregations.

Table3

The next analysis examined average scores across LOMED and LOMED Chadash congregations for each of the components. In addition to the total scores, LOMED congregations, on average, scored higher than LOMED Chadash congregations by about 0.7 points on each component, except in Language, in which the LOMED average was 1.2 points higher than that of LOMED Chadash.

 Table4

LOMED congregations also are more likely to have more than one model currently in use (62%) than LOMED Chadash congregations (27%).

Additional Initiatives (Leadership Institute and The RE-IMAGINE Project)

Congregations that participated in Leadership Institute (LI) and/or RE-IMAGINE received higher scores than congregations that did not participate in LI or RE-IMAGINE. Additionally, LI congregations received a higher score (on average) than the general group; RE-IMAGINE congregations received a higher score than Leadership Institute, and congregations that participated in both interventions received the highest (most developed) scores[4].

Table5 

Length of Time

The length of time congregations have been engaged in the above-mentioned change initiatives is closely connected to the interventions they have participated in. LOMED congregations have been in the process longer than LOMED Chadash. RE-IMAGINE congregations have been in the process longer than those that began with LOMED or LOMED Chadash. Although we do not know if time, independent of involvement with initiatives, is a factor, it does appear to be related to how developed congregations’ models are.

When examining congregations by their model development stages (Emerging, Developing, Fairly Developed, and Established), a pattern emerged. When moving along the developing scale, congregations in each stage category have been involved in change processes an average of approximately one additional year.

Table6

Factors not Related to Model Development

When beginning the project to examine the development of congregational models, CSI wanted to test a number of assumptions about the factors that contribute to a congregation’s ability to fully establish a model. Many of these assumptions showed no pattern in relationship to congregations’ scores. This indicates that movement, size, tenure of their leadership, or operating multiple models do not inhibit congregations when establishing a new model in their systems.

Movement

There was no pattern in score categories based on movement – Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist. Therefore, congregations’ movements were not determined to be a factor in their development scores.

Size

A wide range of scores in each congregational size category (Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large), suggested that the stage of a model’s development is not correlated with the size of the congregation.

Tenure of Leadership

The study examined the length of time the current Director of Education and Senior Rabbi have been working in the congregation in relationship to the model scores. Additionally, it looked at the number of directors of education and the number senior rabbis that have been in the congregation in the past 10 years. No pattern emerged in any of these tenure variables in relationship to the model scores.

Multiple Models

Although congregations submitted grant applications for only one model, the study team also gathered data about the number of models each congregation were currently using.  The number of models currently in use was not related to model scores. Similarly, congregations that have eliminated one or more models from use showed no difference in scores from those that have not eliminated models.

 

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.

 


[1] The Collaboration to Sustain Innovation (CSI) led the work of LOMED, LOMED Chadash, and Express Innovation. It consisted of representatives of three organizations: The Jewish Education Project, the Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE), and the Leadership Institute.

[2] Operating within a culture of experimentation, congregations try out new models, see how they work, learn from them, and decide to continue them, adjust them, or to move in new directions. The replacement of models in such a system is part of a spiraling series of innovations. A congregation might eliminate a model, for example, because they discover that another model is more effective in meeting its goals or because the needs of their learners change.

[3] Congregations were in the initiative for either four years (LOMED congregations) or three years (LOMED Chadash congregations).

[4] No statistical tests were applied to determine meaningful differences between the average scores.

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