A research-proven method designed to formally teach Jewish Values in a way that can be assessed and measured
• Tuition Crisis
– While we are so focused on the affordability of Jewish Day School, I believe that that the question we should be asking is: Why do we care so much to have our kids in Jewish Day School? What are we working so hard to pay for?
• Jewish Values
• How can we measure a "Jewish Experience"? How can we decide which schools are "good" at providing this experience for our children?
– Judge on final product of students
– Judge based on how child behaves in that school
• Problem: We don't even know! We have not yet found a successful and efficient way of measuring the impact of our promoting of Jewish values.
• To understand why, we must define what Jewish Values are, what it is we are trying to define.– Jewish Value are ethics that are derived from the
Torah. • That is why Pirkei Avot starts with "Moshe received the
Torah from Har Sinai"- we must understand values through the lens of the Torah (Abraham J. Twerski; Rabbi Yitzchak Hakohen Kook)
• We must attempt to design a curriculum that:
– Teaches Middot through the perspective of Torah and using Torah sources as a guide to Middot
– Can assess student’s growth in terms of knowledge and behavior.
Goals of Applied Middot Program
• What curriculum can we design to formally teach Jewish Values through the Torah Lens
• How can we assess if that curriculum is working
Kennedy, T Et Al. Exploring the gap
between knowledge and behavior– Researchers wanted to know if medical education (exclusively
knowledge-based) will lead to proper medicinal action and behavior among family medicine residents in Toronto University.
– The method used to measure this knowledge-behavior gap was to first teach the knowledge, then at a later time, participants were observed as they treated patients. Researchers analyzed the session and recorded the times when the resident acted in a way that went against the knowledge they were taught. They then identified 8 different factors that lead to this gap.
– Lesson: Locate times when student acts out of the knowledge they were taught, sit down with the student to hear the details of the incident, identify the factors that lead to the student acting in such a way. Keep record of them over time.
Anderson, M. D. The Effect of Knowledge on Behavior when Individuals Overestimate Risk
– Wanted to see if sex education will lead to better decisions and sexual behavior.
• multiple choice quiz measured knowledge and weighing risks followed by statistics on actual outcomes
• Studies revealed that although sexual activity increased with sexual education, since the curriculum was designed to promote safe sex, participants were a lot safer and wiser when having sexual activity.
– Lesson: The curriculum needs to be designed to promote specific actions (When someone you don't know is upset, ask if there is anything you can do) and not just broad (Be a kind person). Also shows the importance of "hypothetical dilemma" questions to teach the student what to do if…
Ajzen & Fishbein (1977)
• Argue that attitudes can predict behavior, provided that both are assessed at the same level of generality. There needs to be a high degree of compatibility (or correspondence) between them
• Argue that much of the earlier research suffered from either trying to predict specific behaviors from general attitudes, or vice versa, and this accounts for the generally low correlations. – Attitudes can predict behavior if you ask the right
questions (Davidson & Jaccard, 1979)
Azjen & Fishbein Continued
• According to Ajzen and Fishbein, every single instance of behavior involves four specific elements: – a specific action– performed with respect to a given target– in a given context– at a given point in time.
• According to the principle of compatibility, measures of attitude and behavior are compatible to the extent that the target, action, context and time element are assessed at identical levels of generality or specificity (Ajzen, 1988).
• Ajzen (1996): '... to the extent that the beliefs salient at the time of attitude assessment are also salient when plans are formulated or executed, strong attitude-behavior correlations are expected'.
• Lesson: We must design the curriculum to teach Jewish values within the framework of the Principle of Compatibility. We need to teach specific actions, with a specific target, in a context and point in time.
Newton, L.H – Fairfield University
• Mission: To create a "closed loop" in ethics education: From the teaching we are doing now, are students actually taking away any skills or dispositions for ethical deliberation?
• Idea: Put together an "assessment project", a system to find out how effectively we are inculcating the habits of systematic and compassionate thinking about matters of ethics in students.
• Questions- What we are looking to solve
• Baseline Knowledge- Starting point
• Assessment Method
• Outcomes Question: What is it that learners will be able to do (or do better) at the end of the course?
• Assessment Question: How can we tell if students have achieved this outcome?
• Student's Question: Can there be definitive "Student Learning Goals", so that the student will know, at the end of the day, whether or not they have been accomplished?
• Awareness: Recognition of ethical dilemmas in your life
• Reasoning/Reflective Skills:Analyzing components of the dilemma
• James Rest's Defining Issues Test (DIT)
– series of cases on which students are to answer standardized questions o what should be done and what considerations weigh most strongly in the decision.
– Taken as baseline, and then again after program.
Problems: Cases were outdated and questions were broad and undefined.
Newton- DISORDER Method
• Moral Dilemmas presented, decision-maker identified, enough factual information to address the problem but nothing more,
• Questions: Very brief answers (1-2 sentences each)• Way to assess: DISORDER
– Define Dilemma– Inquire for Information– Sort out Stakeholders– Options and Outcomes (articulate)– Rights and Rules– Determination (Make a decision)– Evaluate Effects– Review and Reconsider
• Newton does not provide any information on the curriculum they used in this study.
• My own idea based on the study:
• Basic Components:– Relevant Ethical Dilemmas
– Analysis and Discussion
– Torah sources to apply to this problem
– Practical tips to behave appropriately in real-life scenarios
– Would incorporate the same type of stories, same questions.
– De-brief afterward on how curriculum changed their perspective/answers.
• My Opinion:
– Need Ongoing Re-Assessment.
– Keep Records of students behavior in school and use those incidents as part of the re-assessment.
• To give these tests to students who are not in the "Middot Program" to serve as a control group.
• This assessment method only reveals if the program works, but there are a variety of curricula methods you can utilize- stories, Mussar, Gedolim, Projects, etc. How can we tell which one works best? We can choose 2 months for each and see results? We can just choose one per year and see results?
• Will need at least 2 years of data to be able to recognize patterns. As it stands now as a program, you can't operationally define success. However, you can compare patterns within a substantial sample size to recognize where the program is working, and to see if you would like to adapt or tweak aspects of the program.
• Reservations:– This does not attempt to assess long term behavior
improvement. – The tests are mostly essay-based, which would require trained
educators to grade them according to a rubric of maturity, objectivity, prudence, proper application of Torah sources, etc.
Applied Middot Program Details
• Course Objectives:
– Students show a developing sensitivity to identifying ethical issues
– Students have increased knowledge relevant to ethical issues
– Students display improved ethical judgment, and a strengthened commitment to practicing and promoting ethical behavior in their own lives.
• Present Realistic and Relevant Ethical Dilemmas
• Class Discussion
• Make a Decision
• Present Torah perspective on the issue
• Evaluate decision
Assignments / Assessments
• One-Minute Paper
• Group Projects
• Students can be asked to read a short case study outside of class, either as a separate assignment or as part of a problem set, and be asked to respond.
• Assignments should usually include some general guidance on how to respond to the case, such as the DISORDER method, or a series of more specific questions.
• Much like an in-class version of the homework cases, students are given a short case to read and can be asked to either evaluate the responses of the participants, or to identify the ethical issues in the case and formulate and defend a course of action.
• Students can be asked to write a longer response to a more complex case. This option has the advantage of helping students understand most of the issues in one case better than any one of the issues in shorter homework cases.
– Can be more complex versions of the same case given for homework.
One Minute Paper
• Students write a few sentences at the end of a discussion summarizing its content and what they picked up on.
• This allows the instructor to see what the student caught and helps the student organize and retain the experience before it begins to fade.
– Formative Assessment
• Give an ethics case as a group lab assignment. Ask the students to discuss, and prepare a “lab report” of their discussion.
• Role-playing – Students can either be assigned a role in a situation a few days before and try to act as they think one should in that situation.
• Have students do an ethical analysis of their class projects using something similar to the DISORDER Method
Some Examples of Dilemmas
• You are at a friend’s house one Shabbos afternoon and you are introduced to someone new. You want to know more about them, so you google their name. The results show a ton of information including some “negative press”.
– Is this ethical?
– Is it always ethical to google someone, even if your intentions are to find “dirt” on them?
• “Don’t go as a talebearer among your people” (Vayikra 19:16)– Rashi: A talebearer (Rochel) is like a spy (Rogel)
who goes from house to house hearing gossip about someone and then spreading it.
– Jewish law states that even if this information is public, it is wrong to gossip about the information because the person doesn’t want it to be public.
– Bava Basra 2b: “Loss of privacy is a kind of damage”
• Depends on:
• Glancing vs. Scrutinizing
• Have you met the person yet?
• People today understand that all information is accessible on the internet, so it isn’t an invasion of privacy.
• This is my starting point, and I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts!