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Development and Learning Research Scientist

Johns Hopkins University
Maryland, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Posted Date
Jun 9, 2022

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Position Type
Faculty Positions, Education, Special Education
Employment Level
Non-Tenured Track
Employment Type
Full Time
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The IDEALS Institute in the Johns Hopkins School of Education is out to change the world and we need your help. IDEALS Institute is focused on promoting effective high-quality service systems. Nowhere is this more critical than in today’s public schools, which exist within a complex system of national, state, and local policies and practices. Vulnerable students, including those with disabilities, and their families rely on these educational systems to access a free and appropriate public education, but these systems are often wrought with entrenched problems related to equity and inclusion. Solving these problems requires creativity coupled with the application of systems change theory, implementation science, and evidence-based practices. Do you understand the current landscape of issues facing vulnerable students and their families in public schools and understand how solving these issues is critical to their success? Do you have ideas about how to solve problems of practice in today’s schools and have expertise in applying models to facilitate change and build teacher competency? Do you believe that the widening achievement gap between students with disabilities and their peers can be solved through a lens of implementation science and applied research? If so, we want to talk with you.

This is not your typical faculty position. While you will have a faculty appointment within the School of Education in the Research Scientist track at an assistant, associate, or full professor rank based on credentials, your work as a member of the IDEALS Development and Learning Systems Team will allow you to engage in far more applied work than theoretical research. Our team is a dynamic group of practitioners, researchers, and policy analysts with backgrounds in general and special education; psychology; early learning; K-12 teaching; and teacher preparation who collaborate to make meaningful change in educational systems. In this role, you will have the opportunity to work directly with local school districts, state agencies, other researchers, and subject matter experts to conduct applied research and technical assistance projects that address real problems affecting children, families, and community members. This position will allow you to contribute ideas and coordinate with colleagues across the Institute in disciplines of marketing and communications, technology, training and professional development, and business administration to ensure scopes of work are fulfilled on-time, in-budget, and achieving the impacts we intend. From an implementation science perspective, you will seek to understand what works and why to achieve transformative public policy and systems, to lead research, evaluation, and dissemination of findings that both inform the broader field, but also shape continuous quality improvement in education. Dissemination takes many forms – from traditional publications and presentations to thought leadership espoused through multi/social/mass media, legislative advocacy, and participation and leadership of a variety of cross-agency workgroups and professional networks.  

You are joining an entrepreneurial, soft-funded, non-profit unit within Johns Hopkins University. A track record of securing funding across a variety of sources with an expectation of continued leadership in this area is critical. We seek to build solutions that can be shared across agencies and jurisdictions but also to drive down ongoing costs to ensure effective initiatives are sustained. Additionally, candidates who have a vision for cross-sector application of effective elements in K-12 education to other human-service sectors like healthcare and community engagement are strongly encouraged to apply.

Specific duties & responsibilities:

Subject Matter Expertise: 70%

This position is responsible for leading applied research and technical assistance projects within the Development and Learning Systems team. This position leads and approves the delivery of project deliverables to ensure efforts within each scope of work are in line with best practices in the field and are in accordance with the core values, beliefs, and mission of the Institute. Given the highly inter-related aspect of the projects pursued by IDEALS, the Research Scientist works closely with peers across teams to ensure alignment, integration, and successful completion of projects and deliverables that achieve our impact aims. The Development and Learning Research Scientist has the following responsibilities:

  • Author, oversee, and/or contribute to new funding proposals and strategic lines of research inquiry.
  • Produce and disseminate tangible thought leadership that promote our models and policies, as well as provide general thought leadership contributory to the field.
  • Establish research questions and construct corresponding research designs with rigorous methodologies associated with current and future scopes of work aligned with the Institute’s mission.
  • Develop content and resources for competency-based professional learning programs in the areas of special education; school leadership; school improvement and systems change; curriculum and instruction; and specially designed instruction for vulnerable populations of students, including those with disabilities and English learners.
  • Facilitate systemic change efforts and conduct applied research within local school districts and state agencies to address entrenched problems of practices affecting vulnerable populations of students.
  • Design and implement innovative, competency-based professional learning approaches that increase teacher and administrator capacity in educational systems.
  • Design and implement evaluation measures, rubrics, and related data collection methods to ensure efficacy of professional learning programs.

Operational Management:  15%

This position is responsible for multiple ongoing and new project deliverables as part of the Development and Learning Systems Team and must ensure project deliverables are met in accordance with the grant/contract terms, and that the work is reflective of IDEALS and Johns Hopkins’ vision, standards, and expectations. To that end, the Research Scientist has the following responsibilities:

  • Work with the Director of Development and Learning Systems, fellow researchers, and staff to establish and address strategic goals and priorities.
  • Ensure assigned projects are aligned with strategic goals for both the sponsor and the Institute and pursue new funding opportunities to expand and continue research lines of inquiry in applied areas.
  • Establish initial project objectives and budget; ensure objectives are achievable and coordinate resources; approve budget expenses; and establish detailed plans for assigned scopes of work.
  • Supervise research assistants to perform data collection and data analysis procedures outlined in established research plans and to meet grant reporting requirements.

Administration Services:  15%

This position is responsible for carrying out key administrative duties at the project level within the Development and Learning Systems Team. To that end, the Research Assistant has the following responsibilities:

  • Serve as the point of contact for the sponsor on scopes of work and research studies assigned to them.
  • Provide key and timely insights to the Director of Development and Learning Systems and members of the Institute’s executive leadership team on barriers, needs, and critical issues for all assigned projects.
  • Identify needed scope of work changes in sponsored projects and escalate these as necessary.  
  • Ensure compliance with all applicable university, state, federal, and sponsor compliance requirements, including overseeing project reporting and invoicing needs.
  • Implement procedures and protocols for monitoring and evaluating ongoing project deliverables and direction, along with knowledge dissemination.  

Minimum qualifications (mandatory):


  • Doctorate in education, special education, or a closely related field is required. (Individuals who clearly demonstrate expectancy of the terminal degree, such as through a scheduled dissertation defense date during the first year of employment, will be considered)


  • Past experience teaching students with disabilities in K-12 settings
  • Progressive leadership experience in educational systems, including local school districts, state agencies, or institutes of higher education
  • Demonstrated experience and ability to secure and increase sponsored funding
  • Demonstrated evidence of potential for scholarship and funded research in special education
  • Experience developing and delivering professional learning to practitioners using face to face, hybrid and/or online instructional delivery methods

Special knowledge, skills, and abilities:

  • Evidence of a commitment to equity and social justice for all children and youth.
  • Advanced knowledge of federal special education law and common approaches to enactment of the law in state agencies and local school districts
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to collaborate with colleagues in an interdisciplinary environment
  • Evidence of expertise in research methodologies, including quantitative, qualitative, and/or mixed methods research design
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, applied through both face-to-face interactions and telework approaches with colleagues and sponsors
  • Highly effective and resilient at facilitating organizational growth and fostering systemic change within educational agencies
  • Independent decision-making skills and strong leadership capabilities, including the ability to facilitate collaborative relationships while effectively managing projects
  • Must be comfortable working in a matrixed environment, with several points of responsibility and accountability
  • Strong technology skills, including effective facilitation and participation of virtual synchronous meetings; use of spreadsheet and database skills with the ability to use or learn project management tools such as Smartsheet, Microsoft Teams, learning management systems, and research software
  • Knowledge and execution of ethical research study design, as evidenced by the development of grant proposals and applications to the Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  • Willingness and evidence of the ability to produce peer-reviewed research and non-peer reviewed publications, including journal articles, book chapters, white papers and project reports, grant reports, blog posts, web articles, and/or content for marketing and communications materials
Application Instructions:

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