Career Opportunities

2. Post-Doctoral Position [US Based]

The research project is funded by The United Kingdom Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department for International Development. The project brings together several investigators from different organizations: Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA), Afghanistan, Norwegian Afghanistan Committee (NAC), National Rural Support Program (NRSP), Pakistan, Brown school, Washington University, USA, Center for Evaluation and Development, Germany, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

Disadvantaged children in Low Income Countries (LICs) particularly children with disabilities are increasingly accessing schools, but not learning effectively due to social exclusion within the classroom and poor teaching methods that perpetuate inequality. Building upon previous research, we will develop, implement and evaluate a social accountability intervention - combined with inclusive education training - engaging parents, teachers and children. We will assess the intervention's impact on basic cognitive but also psychosocial skills of learners as well as parent's expectations and engagement, and teachers' confidence with regards to inclusion of children with disabilities. Two partners, Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) and the National Rural Support Programme in Pakistan (NRSP) run Community Based Schools (CBS) in remote areas. They require knowledge as to the factors that can promote or hinder a meaningful learning experience. We hypothesize that strengthening existing social horizontal accountability mechanisms through a Community Based System Dynamics (CBSD) - a participatory approach promoting local ownership in the process of deciphering and changing complex systems from the feedback perspective of system dynamics - can enhance inclusion and the learning experience of disadvantaged children. Developing an effective role for school management committee (SMCs) members requires careful consideration of context and community dynamics, which CBSD upholds. We will carry out Group Model Building (GMB) sessions with SMCs - a specific CBSD method- to identify insights about social accountability reforms. SMCs supported by SCA/NRSP will implement changes based on these insights in intervention CBSs. A randomised control trial (RCT) will evaluate this intervention. Qualitative methods will validate psychosocial assessment tools and explore stakeholders' perception of education.

Department Name/Job Location:

The position is in the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.

Essential Functions/Position Summary

The successful candidate's major responsibility will be to coordinate the study under the supervision of the principal investigator and the co-investigators.

The postdoctoral research associate will:

  • Learn Systems Dynamic (unless it is already acquired)
  • Participate in a training on CBSD in St Louis USA (or another location) and research qualitative methods;
  • Help validate questionnaires used in the study;
  • Establish material needed for the training on CBSD;
  • Co-train the education facilitation team on CBSD techniques and the protocol for the SMCs members;
  • Assist investigators and SCA/NRSP coordinators in the training of the survey staff;
  • Support SCA/NRSP coordinators in:
    • supervising the operations of the CBSD training
    • maintaining financial records for the training as well as for the facilitation sessions in the 40 intervention schools and for the survey in all 80 schools;
    • managing the deployment of the facilitation teams in the schools assigned to them;
    • managing the deployment of the survey teams to the schools assigned to them;
    • maintaining good working relationships with Provincial government staff in the assigned survey areas to facilitate safe and complete survey operations in each of the regions;
    • monitoring SMCs facilitation operations within the assigned schools to ensure that to ensure that all 40 SMCs in schools have developed a common vision for school management and are implementing a share program to improve the education experience of children in classes 3 to 5;
    • monitoring school survey operations within the assigned areas to ensure that survey coverage goals are met and particularly to ensure that all schools are properly surveyed at baseline and again at endline;
    • carrying out in-depth semi structured interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) with a subsample of 50 SMC members (including parents and care-givers) and 50 teachers;
    • ensuring that education facilitation teams receive appropriate and timely logistics, administrative and financial support;
    • ensuring that survey teams receive appropriate and timely logistics, administrative and financial support;
    • establishing for the regions and then execute a Quality Assurance/Quality Control plan to ensure high quality of work of the education facilitation and survey teams;
    • monitoring the security situation in the school areas, assist the teams in maintaining appropriate and up-to-date security plans for field work, advise SCA/NRSP Management Teams on any changes in the security situation; check to ensure that the survey supervisors are working so as to maximize the security of their survey staff;
    • ensuring communications with the SCA/NRSP
  • Apply study tools with children such as games with picture cards, drawing exercises, a photo-elicitation exercise and a collaborative video process to identify how children perceived their learning experience;
  • Education department and with SCA/NRSP regional management teams;
  • Responsible for CBSD and survey data checking;
  • Supervise the translation in English of qualitative interviews and FGDs;
  • Contribute to writing of reports, policy briefs and scientific articles.

The postdoctoral research associate will work directly with the research team of Dr. Jean-Francois Trani. The study is expected to last 4 years. The postdoctoral position has an anticipated start date of 1st January 2018.

Required Qualifications:

  • Applicants must have a PhD in social sciences (Economics, Social Work, Public Health, Education, Sociology) or a related discipline.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Knowledge and experience using Systems Dynamic;
  • Knowledge in education (including inclusive education)
  • Practical experience with data collection and management;
  • Experience using SAS, STATA, or similar software packages to work on quantitative social science projects;
  • Knowledge of focus group discussions and other qualitative methodologies;
  • Proficient in the design and use of quantitative methods of research, particularly monitoring and evaluation;
  • Experience in developing countries, preferably in Central Asia and/or Islamic contexts;
  • Good understanding of gender issues and power structures at the community level;
  • Objectivity and ability to operate systematically with minimal supervision;
  • Result-oriented and committed to respecting deadlines;
  • Urdu, Dari and Pashto is appreciated.

Applicant Special Instructions:

Interested candidates should send a CV, cover letter, and brief writing sample to:

Jean-Francois Trani
Associate Professor
Brown School
jtrani@wustl.edu
[o] 314.935.9277 [c] 314.412.0077

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Questions can be directed to the above email address or phone.

Salary Range

The salary range for this position is commensurate with experience. PostDoc salaries are based on NIH guidelines: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-17-003.html