The TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health at the University of Chicago is seeking a qualified PhD
student to support a new initiative. Learn more about the TMW Center here:
We are seeking a Graduate Research Assistant to work on a project that aims to create the next iteration of a
tool, the Scale of Parent/Provider Expectations And Knowledge (SPEAK), that has been developed and
validated at by the TMW Center. The SPEAK is a clinical and research tool that fills a critical, previously unmet
need in the early childhood field. Given the pivotal role that parents and caregivers play in shaping young
children’s cognitive and language development, it is necessary to assess what they know and believe about
that process. As part of the TMW Center’s commitment to investing in cutting-edge R&D to support scalability,
the Center is developing a version of the SPEAK that uses computer-adaptive testing, called the SPEAK CAT.
This version will streamline assessment by adapting to the individual responding to the questions and issuing
new questions based on the level of knowledge they’ve displayed. The results of the SPEAK CAT will provide a
more complete and useful picture of respondents’ knowledge and beliefs, which can be used to deliver
information and interventions tailored to their needs.
Under guidance and direction from the Principal SPEAK Researcher and SPEAK Research Professional, the RA
1. Contribute to the literature review for the SPEAK computer adaptive test.
a. Build upon and expand the current outline of SPEAK subdomains, specifically focusing on early
literacy and dual language learning. Identify and incorporate missing topics and/or restructure
b. Compile and organize new references as needed for the literature review.
2. Write new survey items.
a. Create weekly and monthly output goals. Maintain quality and quantity of writing outputs.
b. Construct new survey items in accordance with the writing standards for the SPEAK CAT.
c. Review and edit previously written survey items to match new writing standards.
d. Prepare cognitive interview probes for new survey items.
e. Track progress in item development using appropriate spreadsheets.
We strongly prefer that the candidate commit for the 2021-2022 academic year (through June 2022), although
we will consider candidates who can only commit for the 2021 summer months (mid-June 2021 to August
2021). This is a remote position.
Our ideal research assistants are detail-oriented, organized, responsible, enthusiastic and passionate about
issues of poverty, justice, and health disparities.
– Previous experience in psychology, education, or direct service strongly preferred
– Pursuing a PhD with a focus in psychology, particularly developmental psychology, education, or
– Undergrad major in psychology or early childhood education
– Research interests in and experience with early literacy and/or dual language learning
– Technical skills: Microsoft Word/Excel proficiency; experience with survey design (preferred)
– Strong written communication skills
– Highly detail oriented
– Ability to manage multiple projects at once, while ensuring deadlines are met
– Takes initiative, and is able to work independently once given a task
The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity / Disabled / Veterans Employer.
All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex,
national origin, age, protected veteran status or status as an individual with disability. Job seekers with a
disability in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should contact the
Employment Office by calling 773-702-8900 or by emailing with their request.
Qualifications: Bachelor’s Degree; candidates currently seeking PhD in psychology preferred
Employer: BSD/ Surgery
Work Study Offered: Yes – restricted to students enrolled at The University of Chicago.
Non-Work Study Offered: Yes