Research & Partnerships

Current Research

"Character Choice and Student Engagement in an Online Role-Play Simulation" by Matthew Behrman, Amy Rector-Aranda, Noah Glaser, Miriam Raider-Roth

This study explores the relationship between character selection and student engagement in the Jewish Court of All Time (JCAT), a contemporary and historical online role-playing simulation. As participant-observers in JCAT, we detected a dynamic connection between student engagement and character choice. The findings seek to augment the implementation of future JCAT simulations, as well as to inform research and practice of role-play simulations that involve assuming character personas.

"Supporting Teacher Action Research in the Jewish Court of All Time" by Miriam Raider-Roth, Amy Rector-Aranda

The goal of this project is to support teachers who are using JCAT in their classrooms as they design and implement their own action research projects to address their own unique questions about their practice.

Past Research

"Student Agency and Voice in the Jewish Court of All Time Simulation Experience"  by Amy Rector-Aranda and Miriam Raider-Roth

A practitioner action research study examining how one online classroom-based simulation game offers middle school students the opportunity to strengthen their agency and voice. The Jewish Court of All Time (JCAT) is a web-mediated simulation designed for middle school classrooms where students take on roles of various characters throughout the world, history and literature to address an imaginary court case. JCAT is meant to develop students' skills in writing, critical thinking, perspective-taking, historical empathy, and communication, as well as subject literacy in social, historical and cultural contexts. Findings suggested that students also constructed knowledge of democratic ideals, and were able to exercise their agency and voice specifically, both in the online environment and in accompanying classroom activities.

"Text Study as Transformative Practice" by Raider-Roth, M. and Holzer, E.

This study is focused on understanding the experiences of day school teachers who were enrolled in our first Summer Teachers Institute, held, July 2007. After careful qualitative analysis, the main findings of this study suggest that this intensive institute led to both a change in thinking and practice for participating teachers.

Change in Practice: Teachers described new curriculum and curricular approaches that they implemented as a result of the institute including content in middle school language arts, science, as well as an increase in small group learning, the use of self-assessment tools, and pedagogies implemented to focus on the meaning of texts in lower grades. Additionally, hevruta practices were implemented in middle school Judaic Studies classes.

Change in Thinking: Teachers described an increased understanding of the centrality of student-student, and student-teacher relationships in the learning process. Additionally, teachers expressed increased confidence in integrating Judaic content matter with general studies material, in the role of voicing and challenging to elicit deeper thinking and interpretation.

Change in Perception of Teachers' Identities Practice: Teachers described an intensive examination of their own personal, professional and cultural/religious identities that occurred during and after the Institute. This examination focused on the ways these roles shaped their work as teachers in Jewish Day School.

"Experiences of Othering in Text Study" by Raider-Roth, M., Stieha, V., and Hensley, B.

This study focuses on the experience of the Day School teachers who participated in the 2007 STI. This investigation aims to understand if and how teachers felt marginalized or "othered" during the institute. The analysis of this data is still underway.

"Understanding Teachers Learning and Practice" by Doctoral dissertation by Ms. Vicki Stieha, College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services, University of Cincinnati.

Focusing on the experience of teachers who were involved in one or more of the professional development experiences provided through the partnership with the Center for Studies on Jewish Education and Culture, this study seeks to contextualize teacher learning and changes to their teaching practice. Further, it considers the place of the relationship between the teacher and the school organization in terms of it's power to enhance or limit the teacher's sense of her authority to enact or shift practice.

"Building a Relational Learning Community: Collaborative Text Study, Challenging Practices, and Shifting Identities" by Raider-roth, M., Stieha, V., Kohan, M., and Turpin, C.

This study responds to the post 9/11 mandate of improving teachers' content knowledge about diverse cultures and religions to help them address racial and religious stereotypes and bias. It examines a Summer Teachers Institute which was developed to focus on the teaching and learning of Jewish culture and civilization in public, parochial, and non-sectarian middle and high schools. In order to deeply immerse participants in the themes of the institute, it asks teachers to actively engage with diverse texts (e.g., archival documents, film, physical spaces such as cemeteries and community centers) reflecting Jewish culture and civilization. Specific text study practices are introduced and experienced in order to facilitate this kind of engagement.

This study also recognizes that this kind of engagement can create dissonance and destabilization for participants as they confront their own cultural assumptions, associations and personal histories. Drawing on a three-year research action research project studying the nature of participating teachers' learning in this institute, our findings suggest that the construction of a healthy relational learning community is essential in facilitating the participants' explorations, questions, and restabilization.