Research Manager - Ichuli Institute
The Research Manager is required to provide assistance to Ichuli Institute’s Kampala-based Managing Director and the US-based Research Team of Principal Investigator and Co-Investigators to support survey and data entry activities of a longitudinal study evaluating the effects of an early grade literacy program in the Lango sub-region of northern Uganda. The Research Manager will be based in Lira – a small town in northern Uganda – and manage the project on a daily basis on behalf of Ichuli Kampala, providing oversight of all evaluation activities from inception to completion and everything in between. This will include but not be limited to: planning logistics of activities, creating budgets, tool creation and piloting, training of data collectors, monitoring data quality on a regular basis (both tablet and paper-based), creating reports to summarize the activities, and completing basic data cleaning and analysis.
In addition, the successful candidate for this position will have to assist with the management of a data entry team, data scoring activities, timely sharing of data sets with research team, maintenance of data inventories, and proper storage of hardcopy and electronic data.
The position requires an understanding of and experience with research activities, especially with impact evaluations; proven experience managing large data sets and awareness of proper data management techniques; excellent interpersonal, written and verbal skills; and the ability to work accurately and carefully whilst undertaking routine activities.
This position reports to Ichuli Institute’s Kampala-based Managing Directors on a weekly basis and to the Principal Investigator alongside the US-based research team overall.
Ichuli is an independent, Ugandan-owned development organization founded in 2015 and based in Kampala, Uganda. Ichuli means ‘cunning, adaptive and intelligent’ in Ateso, one of the languages in eastern Uganda. Ichuli offers technical, comprehensive strategic development services to clients in the education, research, and monitoring and evaluation sectors. At Ichuli, we believe that the most effective way to achieve sustainable development and growth is to integrate home-grown contextual knowledge, expert technical experience and purposeful research with proven international best practices in delivering and scaling innovative, impactful, locally-driven development solutions.
Ichuli’s success stems from its investment in people to bring about social change. Our staff and consultants are individuals with the right energy, mind-set, abilities, and commitment to making significant change happen, and to seeing it through. Ichuli delivers local solutions to local challenges within a recognized framework of international standard and quality. Local and institutional perspectives and realities are central to the design of our interventions and to the questions we ask in our research, as we believe that every development solution must be accessible and achievable for communities and people in country to execute – both during a project’s lifecycle and beyond.
To date, Ichuli Institute’s team members have been consulted and interviewed for inputs to national strategies, frameworks and intervention plans to improve early learning and teacher training and effectiveness by over 25 notable international organizations and major bi-laterals focusing on education initiatives globally and in Uganda, and presented at over 50 conferences on effective education interventions and outcomes. The results of these discussions and presentations have been integrated into policy, planning, strategy and research initiatives on early learning, pupil literacy assessment and approaches to teacher effectiveness and motivation by organizations including the International Growth Centre, the World Bank, DFID, the Equity Initiative, RTI, R4D and CEI, Open Society Foundation, Open University, J-PAL and IPA.
Overall Objectives of the Evaluation
Ichuli began working with its implementing partner, Mango Tree Literacy Lab (MTLL), in 2010. With the Northern Uganda Literacy Project (NULP), MTLL focused on improving reading levels in early primary grades across the Lango-speaking region of northern Uganda through a focus on local language instruction, teacher training, and developing and distributing local language reading materials. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) occurred over five years, 2013-2017, and measured the effectiveness of the NULP instructional model, teacher training, support supervision and literacy materials on mother tongue and English literacy.
Results showed the Mango Tree NULP model delivered better teacher instruction, access to quality materials, and significant gains in key areas such as phonetic and phonemic awareness, reading fluency, and comprehension. In fact, the program succeeded in raising literacy levels equivalent to at least two additional years of schooling − among the largest improvements in any randomized evaluation of an education intervention. The evaluation resulted in a rich set of data from students’ primary years including a yearly Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), math and writing assessments, teacher interviews, pupil survey, and Classroom Observation videos.
Data processing and analysis of data collected during the RCT’s primary evaluation period of 2013-2017 is still ongoing. The Research Manager will primarily support daily management and assist with on the ground research needs related to this large collection of data.
In addition, in 2019 a longitudinal study began tracking the treated cohort of students as they complete primary school, transition into secondary school, seek employment or engage in other activities. The tracking project seeks to measure the long-term literacy gains in treated pupils and what affect the gains may have on longer-term life outcomes.
The Research Manager will be primarily responsible for executing this activity and managing a team in order to do so.
Research questions driving the tracking exercise include:
- To what extent did foundational investments in early grade reading lead to improved writing outcomes?
- Is one year of an intervention enough to sustain writing gains?
- Can a low-cost literacy program be as effective over time as a more-costly one?
- What are the key characteristics of effective teachers?
- Which behaviours of the most effective teachers are most correlated with producing strong writers in early primary years?
Points to consider:
- This tracking is happening in a rural context where record keeping is poor at best. This applies to not only at the community and government levels, but also to the schools. This makes it extremely difficult to locate the correct parent of the child that we are sampling.
- The ideal candidate needs to be able to think outside of the box and draw out the best, most realistic, ideas from their team who are most familiar with the schools and communities that can be used to bridge this gap.
- The candidate should also be very detail-oriented and not mind spending hours sifting through multiple data pieces attempting to find clues on individual children and parents. Often this role can be seen as one of a detective who must get to the bottom of the mystery, rejecting red herrings and going after the truth with dedication. This requires that the candidate be extremely self-motivated as they will likely be the only person to understand the intricacies of the data at that level.
- The data that we are collecting in these communities can be sensitive as we are asking detailed questions about familial relationships.
- The ideal candidate would have experience working with and protecting vulnerable populations in the data collection process.
Call for Research Manager Applications
In an effort to achieve the evaluation objectives specified above, Ichuli Institute seeks qualified applicants for the full-time position of Research Manager to manage the Longitudinal Tracking, and all other evaluation-related activities over a one year period.
Prospective Research Managers should have a focus on ensuring data quality during collection, data entry, and storage. They should also be ready to assist in the development of data entry or management protocols. They may also help write project reports and research proposals. Finally, the Research Manager may also assist with M&E needs of partner organizations related to data collection, data entry, data cleaning, and analysis.
The Research Manager position offers an opportunity to gain first-hand experience in an organization undertaking cutting-edge development research as well as exciting prospects for career development. This position is located at the local level in Lira, Uganda.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities of the Research Manager
- Create timelines and budgets in accordance with the description of the activity.
- Manage a multi-cultural team, including some at the project management level and others who are lower-level temporary employees working on data collection, logistics, or entry.
- Maintain all project databases regarding data collected.
- Assist with creation and editing of tools wherever needed. The Manager will responsible for version control and will be responsible for managing all of the files related to the project.
- The Manager must be comfortable with upward managing the lead research team in order to ensure that deadlines are met.
- Keep all relevant parties appraised of the progress on the activity.
- Be proactive in identifying problems, communicating them, and proposing a range of possible solutions.
- Uphold the child protection and confidentiality policies with rigor.
- A level of competence with digital data collection is expected. Capability of creating tools in SurveyCTO is highly desired.
Data Entry Responsibilities
- Oversee data entry by managing data entrant work at a high level by locating and preparing data pieces for entry in an organized manner, ensuring quality templates, and cleaning final data sets.
- Develop entry protocols for each data piece needing entry, train Data Consultant and entrants on the protocol and the main concerns with each data piece including creating a docking protocol for mistakes.
- Manage a Data Consultant’s daily tasks of overseeing timely completion of responsibilities related to daily supervision of data entrants, creating quality data entry templates in Microsoft Access, merging databases in Microsoft Access, resolving technical issues, and overseeing proper handling of the equipment, among other responsibilities.
- Train groups of enumerators, teachers, or data entrants on quality data entry, grading or marking an assessment collected from the evaluation, as well as other topics as they relate to ensuring high-quality data.
- Liaising with US-based Research Team by sharing finalized data sets with clear outlines of approach taken and issues that arose during entry, identifying entry priorities and creating timelines, and resolving questions regarding past data pieces or protocols.
- Upkeep the general organization of the data store rooms; when a data piece is needed for reconciliation locate it in an efficient manner and maintain a clear, up-to-date data inventory.
- Oversee the management of all data collected from the field for surveys or assessments related to the tracking project – including organizing, labeling and storing of completed survey tools for easy data entry.
- Ensure the regular backup of data on Ichuli’s secure internal server, with multiple backup points and security of files to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.
- Prepare survey summary reports with recommendations for improvement, issues that arose during entry, steps taken to resolve issues, and identification of key milestones.
Other Support Roles
- Assist with grant proposals, writing of blogs and briefs, editing of reports, website updating, and other tasks as needed.
- Support partner organizations with M&E efforts including daily checks of collected data during fieldwork for quality assurance, inventory and proper storage and collected data from fieldwork, data entry, data cleaning, and analysis.
- Assist with preparations for surveys, including preparation of testing and training materials, survey tools, training and testing plans and all logistical requirements as needed.
- Commitment to, understanding of, and passion for research and improving the collection and entry of data
- A degree, specialization or post-graduate training in monitoring and evaluation, economics, statistical analysis, data management, or other relevant fields.
- Proven experience in field work and large-scale evaluations in particular. Experience with conducting education research or data collection is highly preferred.
- Familiarity with randomized controlled trials and ability to speak coherently on the subject
- Clear and effective written and oral communication skills in English are a must.
- Exceptional organizational skills, including reporting and record-keeping.
- Ability to make and submit timely budgets and requisitions for data collection and evaluation activities.
- Familiar with basic analysis methods and tools, including in Excel and Stata or R.
- Ability to conduct project evaluation and research studies, including operational research, using both qualitative and quantitative methods.
- Proactive and honest in reporting any problems that may have occurred in order that solutions can be determined as a team.
- Strong organization and facilitation skills to ensure quality data collection.
- Teamwork and excellent interpersonal skills.
- Analytically minded and detail-oriented.
- Capable of balancing multiple projects at a time, including updating timelines and balancing competing priorities.
- Self-motivated and able to work with minimal supervision.
How to Apply
Send cover letter, CV, and at least 3 examples of fieldwork documents. These should be documents for which you were primary creator. They should illustrate how you manage the data collection process.
Please send this along with the names and contacts of 2 references to:
Rebecca Thornton ([email protected])
Victoria Brown ([email protected])
Katie Pollman ([email protected])