Research Assistant/Associate in Online Education

University of Cambridge

United Kingdom

Research Assistant: £26,715 -£30,942 or Research Associate: £32,816 -£40,322

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available until 31 July 2022.

We are looking to appoint a full-time Research Assistant/Associate to work as a Software Engineer on the Isaac Project, a collaborative venture with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The role involves designing, building and running an online platform to teach GCSE computer science.

The Isaac platform uses recent developments in web technology and computer-based educational techniques to improve physics, maths and computer science teaching in English schools. Our online platform currently reaches tens of thousands of students and thousands of teachers; in peak periods we receive over 800,000 question attempts a week. For further information see isaacphysics.org and isaaccomputerscience.org.

The Isaac platform includes:

  • delivery of material through written text, video and interactive games/simulations,

  • diagnostic feedback for students through interactive questions and problem solving,

  • assessment to elicit student progress,

  • models of student progress to recommend further teaching materials or exercises, and

  • feedback to improve content quality through usage analyses.

We release all our software for this project under an open-source license (see: https://github.com/isaacphysics).

The successful applicant will work with the Technical Project Managers, Professor Alastair Beresford and Professor Andrew Rice, as well as a seven-person research and development team in the Computer Science department in Cambridge, and collaborating with the content and events teams at the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Candidates will be considered at both Research Assistant and Research Associate level, the former role being suited to recent graduates, while the latter is a more experienced position. A PhD is not a requirement for the Research Associate position but candidates must have demonstrable experience as a programmer. Expertise in both the server-side and client-side aspects of web development is highly desirable. The ability to adapt and select appropriate software, languages and tools is more important than previous experience with specific examples. (For reference, we are currently working with React / TypeScript, Java with RestEasy, Maven, Git, and PostgreSQL.) An ability to manage the deployment, operation and maintenance of large-scale servers and web systems is beneficial. Prior expertise in data science techniques, machine learning, or post-graduate research in computer science and/or education are desirable but not essential. Previous experience managing or contributing to open source projects is an advantage. Candidates must be able to work independently or as part of a team as appropriate.

We use the platform to measure learning outcomes at scale, publish results in the academic literature and drive further innovation on our platform in an evidence-based way. By understanding the fundamentals, we aim to improve online learning outcomes not just on our platform but for society at large.

We currently work remotely using a combination of Google Meet, Trello, Monday and Slack. There is flexibility for continued remote working during the initial term; however, regular attendance at the offices in the Department of Computer Science and Technology in Cambridge will be expected if the contract is extended.

Although the role is intended to be long term, please be aware that the posts are subject to continued funding, currently until 31st July 2022. Should this funding not be extended further, the position may be subject to termination at this date.

The position also includes membership of the USS career-average pension scheme, paid teaching opportunities, and the potential to undertake private consulting work.

Informal enquiries can be made by contacting Alastair.Beresford@cst.cam.ac.uk.

Click the 'Apply' button below to register an account with our recruitment system (if you have not already) and apply online.

Please provide a CV and a covering letter detailing your previous project experience with reference to the above criteria. Candidates must provide the names and contact details of two referees who are familiar with their work whom we can contact for a reference before the interviews, which are expected to take place in July 2021. If you upload any additional documents which haven't been requested, we will not be able to consider these as part of your application.

Please quote reference NR26921 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Apply online


In your application, please refer to Professorpositions.com

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