Science Education Postdoc
NSF-Funded Postdoctoral Research Fellowship on Game-based Learning Implementation
Innovative Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (I-PERF)
Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Innovative Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (I-PERF) program recruits, trains, mentors, matches, and funds early-career doctoral degree recipients to participate in innovative entrepreneurial activities at some of the nation’s most promising startup companies.
I-PERF Fellows receive a full salary and benefits program, a professional conference travel allowance, and scripted professional development training funded by the National Science Foundation.
Eligibility. Applicants must have earned a doctoral degree in a STEM discipline (including STEM/Science Education) within the last seven years. Emphasis is placed on participation of individuals who are from underrepresented or socioeconomic disadvantages groups; this is defined broadly, including first generation college status, disabilities, and veterans. The applicant must also be a U.S. Citizen, National, or Permanent Resident of the Unites States (program rules, not ours). Please see full eligibility information on the I-PERF website: https://iperf.asee.org/eligibility/
Immersed Games is harnessing the power of video games to empower students to learn and love STEM through authentic problem solving.
Our flagship product, Tyto Online, is a video game for middle school students to learn science content and skills. The student experience includes activities like collecting data to figure out if something is an invasive species, building ecosystems to learn ecology, and breeding dragons to learn heredity.
We are a small, multidisciplinary team that is excited to help build a generation of scientifically passionate and literate students, and our work has been supported by grants from National Science Foundation and Department of Education towards that goal. We’re looking for team members enthusiastic about this mission to work alongside us.
What will you do?
Right now, Tyto Online has a set of content in storylines that students play through, and open-ended Sandboxes. We have promising data from our pilots and early customers, and some great implementations planned for the next couple years. For teacher tools and implementation support, we have a dashboard where teachers can explore the content, assign it to students, and receive assessment data. While this has some on-boarding and help built in, we currently have little other to help teachers on the implementation side and guide them through various potential implementation models for game-based learning with Tyto Online.
This position will have a lot of freedom, with the broad mandate that you’ll conduct research and create work product and recommendations that help us make the implementation of Tyto Online the most effective it can be in teachers’ hands.
In summary, this post-doc position involves conducting research to determine best practices and models for game-based learning with Tyto Online to support NGSS and other STEM instruction. You’ll work with our team to then create materials to help teachers implement these best practices — from improving the game itself, to guides and materials to accompany the game, to professional development plans.
You’ll have the opportunity to independently develop research agenda and work collaboratively with the team. We have an existing product and multiple new avenues of R&D coming up, so there is plenty of opportunity to shape our direction based on your research. Some examples of what your research is likely to include, but is certainly not limited to, are:
- You can conduct discovery research to identify areas for improvement within the instructional design of the game and its systems, and then research potential alternative solutions that could improve the product;
- You can design and research implementation models for the product’s various types of content (storylines, quests, and sandboxes);
- You can work with our team to determine research-based implementation best practices that we can use to guide our product’s teacher on-boarding and professional development approaches;
- You can study the effectiveness of the types of game content and mechanics and develop best practice recommendations;
- Based on these best practices, you can create guides and materials that support educators’ implementations, including suggested lesson plans, and supplementary material to the game to ensure learning is generalized;
- You can study and iterate on these materials and implementations with our school partners, ensuring they are as effective as we can recommend within this time period;
- You can help guide development of effective professional development for educators, based on these best practices;
- Use what you’ve learned to collaborate with the team on ideas to improve the product, its implementation, and training processes… as we said, it’s a broad mandate!
We are in favor of publication, and you will have ample opportunity to publish — both from the above research you will be lead on, and as we partner with TERC on our NSF Phase II and potentially a Department of Education Phase II (pending), as well. These involve efficacy research that includes practices for implementation, with some partners already identified for the studies. You will work with a supervisor on our team to define figures and desired research goals early in your post-doc position to ensure you’re able to receive the data needed to publish.
This position is on-site in Buffalo, NY with an intended start date negotiable, but in 2019.
What will you gain expertise in?
- Planning and conducting original research on educational innovations at a variety of innovation time points: from early design-based research to summative efficacy research;
- Working with educational partners and a multidisciplinary startup team;
- Advances in educational technology and learning sciences;
- Best practices in game-based learning, including product design, implementation models, and professional development;
- Designing and conducting teacher workshops and professional development in order to support implementation R&D;
- Authoring publications and writing human subjects protocols;
- Option to contribute to developing new research grants (could also fund continued work at our company for the post-doc into a PI role).
The fellowship is for one year, renewable for a total of two years based on performance and the availability of funds from the NSF.
Who will you work with?
I know we’re writing a lot, but we also thought this was important to understand, as it also clarifies what you won’t be asked to do. You’ll be working directly with an awesome multidisciplinary team. You’ll end up talking with everyone, from programmers to teachers, but you will mainly work with:
- Lindsey Tropf, our Founder & CEO, and the PI on our grants, who started the company while ABD on her PhD in School Psychology, with a specialization in Program Evaluation and Research Methodology.
- Game designers and content creators who implement game systems and iterate on gameplay — you won’t be asked to sit down and figure out all the details of game designs, that’s their role, but you can collaborate with them with suggestions and research on how changes to these designs may impact learning;
- UX Designer who can conduct usability research and work on interfaces, and therefore can work with you for in-classroom testing and provide data she is collecting;
- Instructional designers (consultants and people in-house who have experience) who have a variety of informal and formal learning backgrounds, some with PhDs in scientific fields and/or years of experience working with students and teaching them with the Next Generation Science Standards;
- Implementation Specialist who helps onboard teachers with using Tyto Online — we do not plan on asking you to assist new teachers with customer support or on-boarding problems, as that is this person’s daily responsibility when they start soon; but you are going to work with some of those teachers directly as part of your research and discovery process.
What are we looking for?
We’re pretty open here and don’t want to make a giant list of requirements… especially because we know people from underrepresented backgrounds are less likely to apply unless they fit all of the listed items.
So basically… do you have a PhD and background in Science or STEM Education? Have you conducted educational research? Did you read this gigantic job description fully and get excited about this work?
It’s a bonus if you’ve got experience in any of the following: the Next Generation Science Standards’, professional development for teachers, game-based learning, implementation of NGSS and/or games and instructional technology. If you have a recent PhD in Science/STEM Education, then you probably do, even if you don’t feel super confident about it yet, so please feel free to reach out individually to our hiring manager, Ryan, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status. Whether or not you qualify for this NSF-funded fellowship is up to the NSF; please see “How to Apply,” below.
We’re a small team, so we focus on making our collaboration as productive as possible, with minimal meetings disrupting your flow. We have quick daily standups, bi-weekly scrum meetings for developers, weekly art critiques for the art team, and ~monthly full team meetings to go over larger business objectives. We’re flexible to the needs of our staff with an open, communicative environment where everyone has access to everyone else on the team. If you have ideas to change processes, policies, or anything else, you just grab Ryan (one of our co-founders) to chat, and we’ve changed things because of this in the past. We value inclusivity and diversity, and know our product has benefited from LGBTQ team members asking for character customization setups to be modified (no gender choices, just body styles), or members with ADHD giving feedback on UX designs. Also, being more diverse simply makes a company stronger as you’re less likely to have group think. Our Founder/CEO often says that nothing is sacred or beyond questioning, and we love when people are willing to just work alongside everyone, including our CEO, as equals. We’re still small, so there is ample room for growth as our company grows. This could be a 1-2 year appointment, or turn into a long-term position as a leader in the company.
What’s it like working with us?
We’re a small team, so we focus on making our collaboration as productive as possible, with minimal meetings disrupting your flow. We have quick daily standups, bi-weekly scrum meetings for developers, weekly art critiques for the art team, and ~monthly full team meetings to go over larger business objectives.
We’re flexible to the needs of our staff with an open, communicative environment where everyone has access to everyone else on the team. If you have ideas to change processes, policies, or anything else, you just grab Ryan (one of our co-founders) to chat, and we’ve changed things because of this in the past.
We value inclusivity and diversity, and know our product has benefited from LGBTQ team members asking for character customization setups to be modified (no gender choices, just body styles), or members with ADHD giving feedback on UX designs. Also, being more diverse simply makes a company stronger as you’re less likely to have group think. Our Founder/CEO often says that nothing is sacred or beyond questioning, and we love when people are willing to just work alongside everyone, including our CEO, as equals.
We’re still small, so there is ample room for growth as our company grows. This could be a 1-2 year appointment, or turn into a long-term position as a leader in the company.
Salary & Benefits
Through the funds provided by the NSF, I-PERF Fellows will receive an annual base stipend of $78,000 per year plus, optional individual health and life insurance benefits, relocation assistance to the approved host company, a professional conference travel allowance, and scripted professional development training through ASEE.
The fellowship is for one year, renewable for a total of two years based on performance and the availability of funds from the NSF.
- Health Insurance. At no cost to the Fellow, the I-PERF program provides optional individual health insurance, including medical, dental, and vision benefits to I-PERF Fellows through funds provided by the NSF. Child and/or family health insurance coverage is available at an additional cost to the Fellow.
- Life Insurance. Also at no cost to the Fellow, the I-PERF program provides optional life insurance coverage up to $100,000 per year.
- Relocation Benefits. The I-PERF program provides relocation assistance for fellows to locate their family and belongings to the Buffalo, NY area.
- Professional Development. Fellows receive internal and external mentoring and follow a mutually agreed upon professional development plan through your Host Company. I-PERF Fellows also receive scripted professional development training through the program to develop high demand skills in areas, such as, entrepreneurship, design, and project management.
How to Apply
This fellowship is managed through the American Society for Engineering Education in collaboration with the National Science Foundation.
They conduct matching periods where they will help match relevant postdocs with applicable small businesses (those of us with NSF Phase II grants). The first matching program starts June 1st, so it’s ideal to submit your application before then.
Start your fellowship application at this link: https://iperf.asee.org/applicant-start/
Once you’re approved in the system, check out the opportunities. To find and request ours, here is the relevant information to search for:
- Research Opportunity Name: STEM Game-Based Learning Implementation
- Principal Investigator: Lindsey Tropf
- Company: Immersed Games, Inc.
- NSF Award Number: 1853068
Please also email Ryan at email@example.com and let him know once you have submitted the request so we can make sure you’re on our list for matching priority that we communicate to the ASEE, too!