A NEEDS ASSESSMENT APPROACH TO CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT IN JEWISH EDUCATION

SAUNDRA STERLING EPSTEIN, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to propose and develop a method of curricular planning for the supplementary Jewish religious school based upon a procedure of needs assessment. It was believed that consideration of the perceived needs of a specific population alongside well determined standards and requirements gleaned from curriculum theory and from sources of Jewish content would result in a significantly improved religious school system.^ Through an extensive survey of related literature, the use of needs assessment in Jewish education was examined and it was shown that the method herein proposed is a legitimate and useful one.^ This study sought to: (A) Develop a survey instrument, the Jewish Community Educational Needs Survey (JCENS), based upon authentic Jewish dictates and values, historical precedents, and contemporary concerns and issues, to be used in assessing needs of a Jewish school community. (B) Outline a procedure for the use of needs assessment in Jewish education. (C) Implement the procedure herein proposed in case studies of three individual Jewish schools and explore the possibility of regional planning using this procedure.^ The findings of this study were: (A) There are marked differences among the various groups (educational and religious staff, students, students' families) studied within the Jewish educational institution as to their beliefs of what should or should not be taught for purposes of knowledge and practice. (B) The use of JCENS exposed conflicts between preferences and needs, between set standards and community choices, and between adherence to values versus practices in the studied communities. (C) JCENS can be used to identify characteristics and weaknesses of a given Jewish community and institution which must be addressed by the curriculum planner. (D) This procedure should be implemented on a localized basis due to considerable variation discovered among communities within a small geographic area. (E) The use of JCENS does indeed yield a basis for the development of guidelines for Jewish curricular planning. ^

Subject Area

Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

SAUNDRA STERLING EPSTEIN, "A NEEDS ASSESSMENT APPROACH TO CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT IN JEWISH EDUCATION" (January 1, 1983). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI8329161.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8329161

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