Job Opportunity
Information on System Dynamics related opportunities

Post-Doctoral Research Position

Background of Organization

George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis


The position is in the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis with frequent and extensive travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Position Title

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Study Details

Project Summary
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. 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.
Our project explores ways to improve child learning outcomes:

  • both what are called “basic cognitive skills” (reading, writing, mathematics, simple logic)
  • and non-cognitive or psychosocial skills (learning to be, learning to be together with others, learning to take initiatives, participates, defend your own views...)

Promoting processes of accountability (to parents and children) is recognized as a way of promoting
quality and equity in education.
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 all children in the classroom.

Three partners,

  • National Rural Support Programme in Pakistan (NRSP)
  • Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA), and
  • Norwegian Afghanistan Committee

that run Government schools (GS) and Community Based Schools (CBS) in remote areas.
We will identify together the factors that can promote or hinder a meaningful learning experience.
We will use Community Based System Dynamics (CBSD) – a participatory approach promoting local ownership in the process of understanding complex systems from the feedback perspective of System Dynamics.

We will carry out Group Model Building (GMB) sessions with school Mangement Committees (SMCs) and Village Education Committees (VECs) – a specific CBSD method- to identify insights about social accountability reforms. SMCs and VECs supported by SCA/NAC/NRSP will implement changes based on these insights in intervention CBSs.
A randomized control trial (RCT) will evaluate this intervention. Qualitative methods will validate psychosocial assessment tools and explore stakeholders’ perception of education. In stage 1, investigators will (i) decipher existing mechanisms of accountability and monitoring being used in CBSs (ii) train teachers, 4 NRSP and SCA teams of 3 facilitators and 2 coordinators each on inclusive education and (iii) train SCA/NAC/NRSPteams on GMB to facilitate sessions in 80  andomly selected intervention schools. In stage 2, SMCs members (principals, staff, teachers and parents) will participate  n separate GMB sessions to design a relevant school social accountability system and identify leverage points on which to focus the intervention. In stage 3, each school, with the support from SCA/NAC/NRSPteams and the investigators will implement the intervention. In stage 4 the investigators will measure the impact of the social accountability intervention on learning outcomes using a cluster RCT with two waves of interviews: baseline survey in all 160 schools from staff, teachers, students in classes 3 to 5 and parents in year 1; end line survey will take place at the beginning of year 4. In-depth interviews and FGDs, games and audio-visual activities with children will take place in years 2 and 3. In stage 5, the investigators will develop capacity in countries (universities, education NGOs) and disseminate findings to a broad audience in various formats through academic, policy makers and practitioners’ networks.

Position Description

Essential Functions/Position Summary

The successful candidate’s major responsibility will be to coordinate the intervention in community
based system dynamic under the supervision of the principal investigator and the co-investigators.
The postdoctoral research associate is knowledgeable in Community Based Systems Dynamic (CBSD) or
Systems Dynamic for social sciences and will contribute to the following:

• Establish material needed for the training on CBSD;
• Co-train the education facilitation team on CBSD techniques and the protocol for the SMCs
• Assist investigators and SCA/NAC/NRSPcoordinators in the training of the survey staff;
• Support SCA/NAC/NRSPcoordinators in:

  • supervising the operations of the CBSD training
  • overview financial records for the training as well as for the facilitation sessions in the 80 intervention schools and for the survey in all 160 schools;
  • monitoring the deployment of the facilitation teams in the schools assigned to them;
  • monitoring the deployment of the survey teams to the schools assigned to them;
  • monitoring 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 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;
  • ensuring communications with the SCA/NAC/NRSP.

• Support the investigators in applying 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;
• Liaise with Education department and with SCA/NAC/NRSPregional 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.


Required Qualifications

Applicants must have a PhD in social sciences: preferably Systems Dynamic applied to social sciences or

Applied/Development Economics but also Social Work, Public Health, Education, Sociology or a related
Preferred Qualifications
• Knowledge and experience using Systems Dynamic;
• Practical experience with data collection and management;
• Experience using SAS, STATA, R 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
• 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


[email protected]
[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.


Candidates can apply by navigating to and searching for the job opening number: Postdoctoral Research Associate - Brown School - 40605

 Edited by CS 06-06-18