Postdoctoral Researcher in Science or Chemistry Education Sought

Applications are invited for a postdoctoral position in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Boston, studying K-12 science and mathematics teachers’ assessment practices.

Applications will be considered until the position is filled. Ideally, the postdoc will begin in August, 2019.

General Summary of Position

This is a non-benefited postdoctoral researcher position funded by a grant. The research employs both qualitative and quantitative methods, in an interaction analysis framework, to study the following research questions about K-12 STEM teachers who primarily teach in high-need districts:

  1. What are the teachers’ current assessment practices?
  2. How have their assessment practices changed from when they began teaching in a high-need district?
  3. How do salient retrospective conceptual, pedagogical, cultural, and political challenges negotiated by the teachers explain their current classroom formative assessment practices and changes over time in their assessment practices?
  4. For teachers who have persisted teaching in the urban partner school district, how do assessment practices relate to student performance outcomes on classroom assessments and to district and State standardized mathematics and science exams?

The postdoc will be responsible for a major portion of the data collection, organization, integrity, and analysis to answer the research questions. The University of Massachusetts Boston prides itself in being a "research university with a teaching soul". It is the only public university in Boston, and the only majority-minority university in New England. Postdocs in every area of chemistry are given opportunities and mentored to teach an undergraduate course in chemistry to help prepare them for teaching when they advance to a faculty position. If the postdoc has some background in chemistry, but not a PhD in chemistry, this could be a course that provides supplemental academic support for students taking chemistry courses.

Examples of Duties

  • Organize and support videoing in K-12 science and mathematics teachers’ classrooms
  • Edit simultaneous video and audio data from classrooms
  • Apply discourse analysis to study student-student and teacher-student interactions in the videos
  • Qualitatively and quantitatively analyze teaching portfolios provided by teachers, and the progress of their students during teaching units
  • Conduct interviews with teachers about challenges they face in evolving their assessment practices
  • Perform quantitative multi-level analyses using state and district student assessment scores and teacher variables
  • Write, publish, and present research papers
  • Maintain accurate records for IRB progress reports
  • Assist the PI in preparing progress reports for the funding agency
  • Mentor graduate, and possibly undergraduate, researchers working on the project

Minimum Qualifications 

  • Ph.D. in science education or a closely related field
  • Some undergraduate coursework in chemistry
  • Expertise in both qualitative and quantitative educational research methods
  • Coursework in qualitative analysis methods, particularly interaction/discourse analysis
  • Record of publication in science and/or mathematics education
  • Teaching experience, either at K-12 or university level
  • Experience working with middle and high school science and/or mathematics teachers

Work Schedule

This is a full-time position initially for one year, and renewable for a second year. Full-time expectations are five days per week, including some local travel to visit teachers at schools to support data collection.

Supervision Received

The postdoc will collaborate with, and be supervised, by the PI of the grant, Dr. Hannah Sevian. The postdoc will be a member of a project team that includes the co-PI of the grant, another postdoc who is supervised by the PI, and a graduate student who is supervised by the co-PI. The postdoc will also be a member of the larger research group of the PI, which includes three other postdocs, seven graduate students, and several undergraduate research assistants.

To Apply

Please send the following materials to hannah.sevian@umb.edu, with a subject line of “Postdoctoral researcher application”:

  • Cover letter expressing interest in the position
  • CV
  • Statement of your goals for the postdoctoral position
  • Statement of your research and teaching goals following postdoctoral work
  • One-page abstract of your doctoral dissertation
  • One writing sample
  • Names and contact information for two scholars who are familiar with your work who could provide letters of reference if requested

Questions may also be directed to the same email address (hannah.sevian@umb.edu).