Modern Orthodox Adults Self-Reporting on their Adult Education Needs and Learning Preferences
Cohn, Ellen Sue
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This study explored the educational preferences and motivational typology of Modern Orthodox adults, a community that according to previous research appeared to present a contrasting educational paradigm than that evidenced by other adult students. The research conducted in the liberal Jewish community and in the broader contemporary field of American adult education discussed how adults tended to learn at times of developmental transition in order to find personal meaning and to gain practical skills. Alternatively, research about Orthodox adult education demonstrated that Orthodox adults gravitated toward a more "consistent and integral" pattern of textual study due to their earlier educational background obtained in Jewish day school (Grant & Schuster, 2011, p. 670). This study hypothesized that Modern Orthodox adults, as do their contemporary American and liberal Jewish peers, also had developmentally dependent needs that they may wish to have met by adult learning.;The study was conducted by means of an online quantitative, Likert-type scale questionnaire distributed to adults in Modern Orthodox synagogues across the United States, with just under 800 adults (N=797) completing the survey. The respondents were asked about their educational preferences, the factors that might motivate them to attend adult learning, about possible Jewish and life needs that they may wish to have met by education, and about their satisfaction levels. By analyzing descriptive statistics for means, standard deviations, and frequency distributions, the study appeared to confirm the centrality of Modem Orthodox textual study as was indicated in previous research.;However, it also found that around half of the adults presented a medium to high interest in developmentally-based educational activities, while two-thirds demonstrated medium to high interest in courses that "mixed" both a textual and developmental perspective. Additionally, the majority of Modem Orthodox respondents appeared to operate out of a combined cognitive and developmentally- oriented motivational typology that influenced their participation in education. The combined typology for Modern Orthodox adults that integrates the study of traditional texts with a developmentally-based growth-orientation may be unique for this population. The study hopes that the findings will sensitize providers to the dual needs of their adult constituency in implementing curriculum.;Keywords: adult education, adult Jewish learning, Modern Orthodoxy, life cycle transitions, adult developmental psychology, motivational typology, Orthodox adults, Torah study.