Research and Community Services

      1. Research

At IER at the moment there are ongoing thematic and adaptive problem-solving individual researches.

Thematic Research

Thematic Research 1

Thematic research project: Reform and Transformation of Higher Education in Ethiopia: the quality, relevance, equity & governance imperatives

mulu negaPrincipal investigator: Mulu Nega (PhD); Email:, mobile: 0911402722

This research project is one of the thematic research projects that have been selected and granted funding in the third thematic research award of the Addis Abeba University in 2015/16 (2008 E.C). It is a three year project that intends to investigate reform and transformation of higher education in Ethiopia with a focus on quality, relevance, equity and governance issues.

Brief description of the research project and its sub-themes

Higher education has long been recognized as a major catalyst for growth and development in all its dimensions. It plays critical role as important source of essential knowledge, highly skilled labor and industrially relevant technology and innovation in the modern knowledge-based economies. The role of higher education as a strategic resource is prominent feature that brings it to the inner circles of the national development agendas of many countries. In Ethiopia, the need to accelerate economic growth through rapid expansion of higher education is evident over the past two decades. Recently, the country’s vision of being a middle-income country by 2020-2025 is the key driving force for investing on human capital and research-intensive activities. In this regard, higher education plays critical role in accelerating human development and technological capacity building and ensuring its sustainability. To that effect, various higher education reform initiatives have been designed and implemented within the framework of the 1994 education and training policy (see GTP, ESDP I-ESDP IV, higher education proclamations, the graduate mix policy etc.) with the intention to transform the higher education system and ensure that it meets the country’s needs of science and technology. The purpose of this thematic research project is to examine the extent to which the higher education reform initiatives have brought improvements in access, equity, quality, relevance, efficiency, research and innovation, leadership and governance of universities and in promoting socio-economic development in the Ethiopian context. We characterize the cumulative challenge for Ethiopian higher education as one of organizational adaptation to changing environments, a multifaceted phenomenon that is worthy of conceptual and empirical attention. As a multifaceted broad concept with many dimensions, this thematic research contains the following five cross cutting and interrelated sub-themes that are related to the major missions and issues of the Ethiopian higher education system.

Sub-thematic research (STR) 1:The Role of Universities in Attaining GTP Goals: the Quality Imperative

This sub-thematic research project is intended to explore the contributions of universities in producing quality graduates and in technology transfer for the realization of GTP goals. It also attempts to identify the enablers for and barriers to the contributions of universities in attaining GTP goal base on the mixed-methods research approach. The sub-thematic researchers include Dr. Mulu Nega (Leader), Dr. Teshome Nekatibeb, Dr. Belay Tefera, Dr. Alemseged G/her and one PhD candidate to be included.

Sub-thematic research (STR) 2:Innovation Systems and Technology Transfer in Ethiopian Universities: the Relevance, Quality and Utilization Imperatives

The sub-thematic research focuses on the extent to which new knowledge and technologies have been created, transferred and used in the Ethiopian Universities. It attempts to analyze the characteristics of innovation systems and modalities of technology transfer and determine their relevance and quality to users based on a conceptual framework drawn from a review of policies, processes of implementation and utilization as well as perceived outcomes of innovation systems. The sub-thematic researchers are Dr. Fetene Regassa (Leader), Dr.Firdisa Jebessa, Professor Teketel Yohannes, and Dr. Mulu Nega.

Sub-thematic research (STR) 3:The status of Leadership and Governance in the Ethiopian Higher Education Institutions: Prospects and Hurdles

This sub-thematic research explores the current practices and systems of governance and leadership in the higher education institutions of Ethiopia. It examines the extent to which the existing structural set-up and governance systems enable HEIs to achieve efficiency, effectiveness, quality, flexibility and customer-centeredness in discharging their duties and responsibilities. The sub-thematic researchers are Dr. Wossenu Yimam (Leader), Dr. Daniel Desta, Dr. Kenenissa Dabi, and Professor Derebssa Dufera.

Sub-thematic research (STR) 4:Higher education and social justice: the equity and equality imperatives

This sub-thematic research attempts to explore the critical issues related to equity and equality in Ethiopian higher education institutions as reflected by undergraduate programs directors, admission officers, advisors, as well as undergraduate students. Three researchers are involved in this  thematic research viz., Dr. Wanna Leka (Leader), Dr. Belay Hagos, and Ato Girma Zewdie.

Sub-thematic research (STR) 5:Prospects and Challenges of Bridging Educational Research with Education Policy-Making in Ethiopia

This sub-thematic research looks at the linkage between research and policy making process in Ethiopia, by focusing on the dynamics and complexities of the policy processes in terms of understanding diversity of research personnel and conduct of research; mechanisms for interaction between research producers and policymakers and other research users; the role of policy-makers and users in research initiation, implementation, monitoring and dissemination. It intends to assess the knowledge basis for education policy formulation and thereby provide room for discussion to researchers and policy-makers, and generate ideas and recommendations. The researcher team of the study are Prof. Derebssa Dufera (Leader), Dr. Gebrezgabher Debeb, and Dr. Firdisa Jebessa

Research Approach and Methodology

The thematic research employs the mixed-methods approach based on the premise that research on reform and transformation of higher education is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that involves the perspectives of different actors and requires the collection and analysis of data drawn from different sources using different methods. The sample of the study comprises a total of 24 higher education institutions (12 public universities and 12 private higher education institutions). The data will be obtained from both primary and secondary sources. Questionnaire (composed of both open and close ended items), interview, FGD guides, observation checklist and desk reviews will be used as data collection instruments.

Thematic Research 2

Thematic Project Title: Teachers Professional Development: A Strategy to Achieve EFA Goals in 2015 and Beyond
Thematic Project Number: VPRTT/LT-05/08/15


Project Status: In progress 

Research Leader (Principal Investigator): _Girma Lemma (Dr.)

Girma Lema


Teacher professional development is one of the research priority areas of Addis Ababa University. Currently the Institute of Educational research developed three research proposals under this theme and won research grant from the Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer office. In phase one of the research the office has granted a sum of 400.000.00(Four Hundred Thousands Birr) for the three researches and activities have been carried out as per the log frame stipulated in the proposal. This technical progress report is a summary of the so far activities done under the three sub thematic research areas and projection of the remaining activities to be done in 2016/17 budget year.

The specific titles of the sub-thematic research are:

  • Enhancing Mathematics and Science Learning through Lesson Study: Implications for Teacher Professional Development Program
  • Exploring In-service Teachers’ Development of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge
  • The Impact of Continuous Assessment Training on Teachers’ Knowledge and Skills, Attitude and Students Performance in Primary Schools

In the first phase the University allocated Birr 400,000 (four hundred thousand) and with this allocated budget the researchers planned to accomplish the following activities.

  • Sub-thematic Research 1: Enhancing Mathematics and Science Learning through Lesson Study: Implications for Teacher Professional Development Program

Reviewing relevant literature, manual preparation on the principles of lesson study, and its implementation procedures, conducting kick off meeting with principals, supervisors, facilitators, and conduct base line survey on students performance in science and mathematics learning, teachers performances in the two subjects, challenges in conducting the research in each school were the major activities planned in the first phase of the research undertaking.

  • Sub-thematic Research 2: Exploring In-service Teachers’ Development of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge

In the first phase of this sub-thematic research, the following major activities were set to be accomplished. These include:

  • review related literature ;
  • collect, review, analyze and organize documentary data;
  • formulating data collection instruments;
  • develop field work guidelines;
  • conduct pilot study, encode and enter the results;
  • modify the data collection instruments;
  • conduct kickoff workshop with partner institutions; and
  • Compilation of reports (pilot study, documentary data and technical report).

Sub-thematic Research 3: The Impact of Continuous Assessment Training on Teachers’ Knowledge and Skills, Attitude and Students Performance in Primary Schools

Reviewing pertinent literature, developing data collection instruments, developing training manuals, conducting school-level trainings, pilot testing data collection instruments, and conducting kick off meeting with stakeholders were the major activities planned to be executed in the first phase of the project.

Adaptive Individual Researches

 Summary of individual research 1


Title: The Contribution of Testing and Measurement Service Unit in Outreaching the Community


Name Email Telephone Institution/Department

and specialization

Girma Lemma 0911628551 IER, Measurement and Evaluation/Developmental Psychology

 Girma Lema

Executive Summary

The Testing and Measurement Services Unit (TMSU) is one of the units of the Institute of Educational Research (IER), Addis Ababa University which is established to provide testing and measurement services in the areas of personnel selection, recruitment, placement and promotion as well as training to public and private sectors and higher learning institutions. TMSU also carries out consultancy services, research and training in educational assessment and evaluation. TMSU is committed to ensure excellence in the development and proper utilization of human resource in all client organizations through the development and administration of systematic and scientific personnel selection instruments.

Objective of the research

The major objective of this research is to investigate the level of customer satisfaction of client organizations/stakeholders that have been getting testing and measurement service from TMSU/IER in the areas of personnel selection, recruitment, placement and promotion tests as well as training to public and private sectors and higher learning institutions and the extent to which TMSU/IER are engaged in community outreach engagements.

Specific objectives

  • Examine the quality of the services provided by TMSU/IER to customers as perceived by beneficiaries;
  • Explore the level of customer’s satisfaction with the services delivered by TMSU/IER;
  • Explore the opinion of client organizations with regard to pricing and testing fees for the testing services they are requested;
  • Identify the major complaints or problems client organizations faced in due course of service delivery;
  • Evaluate the extent of trust client organizations have on the services delivered by TMSU/IER;
  • Identify other services client organizations need from the unit in the future;
  • Estimate income generated to Addis Ababa University by TMSU;
  • Examine attitudes and perception of individual candidates sitting for local and international tests;
  • Develop testing service and training manual based on evidences obtained from the research.

Summary of individual research 2

Accommodations for Students with Special Needs: The Case of Selected Universities in Ethiopia

Researcher: Daniel Desta Dolisso (PhD), Special Needs Education

Email address: Mobile phone: 0913 205737

 Desta Doliso

Institute of Educational Research Addis Ababa University

This is an adaptive research project funded by the Addis Ababa University Office of the Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer for 2016 (17) Academic Year. The project aims at studying accommodations for students with special needs in Selected Universities in Ethiopia.


Brief description of the project

The number of students with special needs that have access to education including higher education is growing from time to time. To effectively serve the growing number of students in higher education, it is important to understand that HEI have obligations to provide suitable learning environment and support for students with special needs on consistent and fair manner. For instance, instructors are among key actors and are expected to provide reasonable and essential accommodations to their students with disabilities. Ensuring access to higher education alone does not guarantee effective learning among all students. Providing the special instructional support particularly to students with special needs is not something optional. It is rather a requirement. To ensure that participation is meaningful, the universities have a responsibility to provide them reasonable accommodations and appropriate support tailored to individual needs. The actual practice appears different. Students with special needs face problems that hinder effective learning and fair competition with other students. This research, therefore, aims at investigating problems that hinder education of students with special needs in selected universities in Ethiopia and suggest workable strategies that help instructors and other service providers make accommodations essential for effective learning.

Research approach methods

The study would be conducted employing qualitative approach supported by quantitative approach. Four government universities covering the first, the second and the third university generations in the country will be covered by study. The study shall employ three types of instruments for the data collection. Observation Checklist will be prepared for collecting data on facilities and services delivered for students with special needs in the selected universities.  Classroom observations will also be conducted. Interviews will be conducted with students with special needs, instructors and officers. Questionnaires will be developed particularly for students with special needs. Moreover, pertinent documents including laws, policies, guidelines, university senate legislations will be reviewed and analyzed. The assumptions understanding behind the legal provisions and policies will be studied through in-depth interviews with pertinent officers at different levels.

 Summary of individual research 3

Title of the Research: A Study on the application of acquired knowledge and skills in work place by graduates from government technical and vocational education and training colleges/institutes.

Researcher: Wanna Leka (PhD),  Phone: 0911637890

 Wanna leka

Since the promulgation of the Education and Training Policy in 1994, TVET programs moved from obscurity to limelight in the Ethiopian educational system. In 2013/14, there were 437 government and non-government TVET institutions enrolling a total of 238049 students. Girls accounted for 51.3% of the total enrollment. TVET programs are by design intended to develop skills that can be used in a specific occupation or job. The effectiveness of these programs can thus be measured by the extent to which trained persons can use their skills in employment. TVET programs enhance the transition of youth from school to the world of work. This is more so in countries like Ethiopia, where the percentage of youth population is over 51%.

TVET by its nature is an expensive endeavor and institutions need to pay close attention in its implementation. There must be a close linkage between TVET institutions and the employing enterprises. Without such linkage, the training given in TVET programs could not satisfy the needs of the employers. Thus, the congruence between TVET programs and the skill demand of the labour market has to be established in an effective way. This phenomenon is a critical challenge to all government run TVET programs. Available research reports indicate that government run TVET programs lack flexibility to adjust their curriculum to fast changing technology in the labour market. Furthermore, the benefits (outcomes) attributed to TVET programs vary from country to country and also within different categories of training programs as well as between sexes. Thus, the benefits (outcomes) of TVET programs are numerous and as a result making comprehensive generalization becomes difficult.

Getting employment in the labour market or establishing private enterprise as the result of skill training is considered as a positive outcome of TVET programs. However, the degree of application of acquired knowledge and skills in the work place by TVET graduates and the impact of such application in enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of an enterprise is a phenomenon that has not been studied so far. This was the main focus of this study.

Summary of individual research 4

Title: Improving Test Construction and Utilization Competency of Instructors of Higher Education Institutions.

Researcher: Desalegn Chalchisa (PhD), email:, Phone: 0911637890


Brief description of the Research Project

In line with the Ethiopian Education and Training policy that gives emphasis for continuous assessment in academic and practical subjects to ascertain the formation of all round profile of students at all levels. It is also noted in the Ethiopian Higher Education Proclamation that one of the responsibilities of instructors is to assess students’ learning.  To implement these policies instructors of higher education are involved in the assessment of students. A vast majority of the studies on assessment of students learning in Ethiopian context are related to practices, challenges, and perceptions of continuous assessment at the primary and secondary schools. However, little or no research was conducted in Ethiopian context on the assessment competency and use of its results by higher education institution instructors for improving students learning.

Thus, the aim of the study is to explore the higher education instructors’ assessment competency and the use of test results for improving students learning at higher education institution (HEIs). The specific objectives are to: (1) find out the level of learning outcomes measured by tests constructed by HEIs instructors, (2) investigate the competency of HEIs instructors in constructing classroom tests for measuring students learning, (3) determine the quality of test items by analyzing strengths and drawbacks of tests constructed by HEIs instructors and (4) suggest how test construction competency of HEIs be improved in order to improve the quality of education.

The research design of this study is descriptive. The survey method is used to explore instructors’ competency in constructing quality classroom assessment tools and how they use the assessment results to improve students’ learning and instruction. Tests constructed by instructors are to be evaluated against principles of test construction which is expected to identify the current level of teachers’ competency in test construction. The data for the study is collected from Arba Minich, Aksum, Debre Markos, Gondar, Wolkitie and Wollega representing three generation of universities. Data collection was collected with an instrument measuring teachers’ competency test planning, writing of different types of test items and use of test results. In addition sample tests items were collected for analyzing their quality in terms of test construction guidelines. Based on the current status of teachers competency and use of test results for improving students learning  instructors of HEIS will be given training on  how to construct psychometrically sound test items.

Summary of individual research 5

Title: Toward Research-Based Framework of Internal Quality Enhancement System for Ethiopian Public Universities

mulu negaResearcher: Mulu Nega (PhD); Email:, mobile: 0911402722

This research project is one of the adaptive problem solving research projects that have been selected and granted funding by  the Addis Abeba University in 2016/17 (2009 E.C). It is a one year project that intends to investigate the status of internal quality enhancement in Ethiopian Universities and thereby suggest a framework for an effective internal quality enhancement system.

Brief description of the research project and its sub-themes

The issue of quality and its assurance in higher education has been at the center of the contemporary policy debates at institutional, national, regional and international levels. There is wide spread agreement that the contribution of higher education to the economic development and competitiveness of a country depends to a large extent on the relevance and quality of its educational provisions. Nowadays, addressing the issue of relevance and quality has become a worldwide phenomenon. Assuring and enhancing quality in higher education institutions requires establishing legal and policy frameworks, regulatory bodies, structures and incentives at all levels as well as the involvement and commitment of all actors. Quality assurance and enhancement in higher education has both internal and external dimensions. There is, however, strong argument that quality enhancement is the primary responsibility of higher education institutions and the external quality assurance system serves an accountability purpose. This suggests that higher education institutions are expected to develop and implement policies, frameworks, internal governance structures and incentive mechanisms to enhance the relevance and quality of their educational provisions.

In the Ethiopian context, quality and quality assurance are well acknowledged and articulated at national legal and policy frameworks. As clearly articulated in the 2003 higher education proclamation (modified in 2009), higher education institutions are required to design and implement internal quality enhancement system. However, there are no adequate empirical evidences concerning the impact of internal quality enhancement in improving student learning outcomes and the implementation challenges at the university level. The extent to which the higher education is producing qualified human resources for the growing economy has now become an area of debated and concern among researchers, stakeholders and the government at large.

Hence, the purpose of this study is to examine and identify the challenges in the effective implementation of internal quality enhancement at institutional level and thereby develop a functional framework of internal quality assurance system for Ethiopian universities. More specifically, this study addresses two major questions viz., what are the challenges for the successful implementation of internal quality enhancement system in public universities? And what are the framework conditions for the effective implementation of internal quality enhancement system?

Research Approach and Methodology

The research project employs the mixed-methods approach. This approach requires the collection and analysis of comprehensive data forthcoming from all relevant stakeholders, functioning at different settings, through varied instruments, and in a variety of ways. Accordingly, the study depends on both primary and secondary sources of data collected from the four generation public universities (2 universities from each of the four generation). Primary data shall be secured qualitatively and quantitatively employing interviews, focus groups, and questionnaires. Secondary sources involve analysis of various legal and policy documents, physical and financial documents of universities, incentives and other facilities for enhancing universities’ engagement in quality enhancement. Participants will be drawn from Ministry of Education, HERQA, ESC, public universities.

Summary of individual research 6

Title: Thesis Examination Process in Ethiopian Public Universities: Issues of Relevance, Fairness and Effectiveness


Researcher: Wossenu Yimam (PhD), Email:, mobile: 0911158554

Brief description of the research project:

This study was designed with the main purpose of exploring the issues related to relevance, fairness, and quality of thesis examination process in the graduate programs of Ethiopian public universities and then propose feasible recommendations that will help improve quality of graduate programs in general and thesis examination process in particular. To this end, descriptive survey design supported by qualitative data collection and analysis procedures was used so as to critically examine the issues in breadth and depth. Three hundred recent graduate students were selected from five universities on the basis of purposive sampling technique. The necessary information was solicited from the sample respondents through series of interviews and a questionnaire designed for the purpose. The collected data were analyzed using quantitative as well as qualitative techniques as appropriate. The study attempted to address the following issues: relevance of examiners’ questions/comments in developing graduate students’ research skill and improving quality of the theses; fairness of examiners in grading theses/candidates’ performance in thesis defense sessions; more effective examiners in handling the thesis examination task; and the positive as well as negative aspects of the thesis examination process in Ethiopian public universities. The findings of the study revealed that most of the questions raised by the examiners during thesis defense session were not rigorous enough to examine candidates’ work, improve quality of the theses and develop candidates’ research skill. Besides, the highest proportion of the respondents considered the examiners as being unfair in evaluating and grading the theses as well as candidates’ performance in the defense session. Apart from these, the study has identified the positive as well as negative aspects of the thesis examination process coupled with recommendations that help improve the process and thereby quality of graduate students’ research works in Ethiopian public universities.

Summary of individual research 7

Title: Typos in Addis Ababa: Analysis of Typographical Errors of Posters and Banners

brhanu AbaeResearcher: Berhanu Abea (PhD); Email:, mobile: +251911758478

Brief description of the research project

Errors have long been considered as an important source of insight into understanding a user’s performance of a task. Errors provide feedback; they tell publishers something about the effectiveness of their editorial process and give them evidence about the competence of editors. This study examines the typographical errors of poster and banners in Addis Ababa.  This is with the view to develop an effective copyediting framework by using inputs from the printing press organizations which have been engaged in graphic artwork designs and printing services, and their key customers. To arrive at the intended purpose, three different instruments, such as documents (posters and banners with typos), interview and observation are employed. It is expected that the results of this study helps publishers and their customers to identify the root causes of typographical errors of print outlets and inform them how the copyediting can be done effectively and efficiently. It also creates platform among printing press firms.

Research Approach and Methodology

The intention of this study is to collect data specific to typographical errors of posters and banners which are put up on walls, boards or poles. To achieve the objectives of the study, a descriptive survey research followed by training interventions is employed; that is, every aspect of the study is guided by the spiral form of research-action process. To gather data for the study, three different instruments, such as documents (posters and banners with typos), interview and observation are employed.  That is, printed posters and banners with typographical errors are collected and analyzed.   Participant observations are also conducted in randomly selected printing press organization to examine how the copy-editing and graphic art works are conducted.  Furthermore, in-depth interviews are made with editorial managers, graphic art designers, type setters and key customers of the printing press organizations.

  1. Community Services

The testing center at IER is the significant means through which the institute plays a significant role in providing community services. The center prepares and provides examinations of different kinds to the community at large. For example, it provides testing services to the Human Resource Department of the Addis Ababa University as well as to other governmental and nongovernmental organizations. It also serves as an agent for test administration of international tests like the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), GRE (Graduate Record Examination), SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and ACCA (Association Chartered Certified Accountant).

The test center prepares exam rooms and other facilities that examinees require well before hand examination times. At the center examinees are provided with quick and clear responses to the questions they ask. Examinees are very much pleased with the service that the center has been providing and the acclamation received from the ACCA examination administrator with regard to customers satisfaction is a case in point.

The center is now moving with the time and is preparing a suitable location to give out online testing in the used to be library of the IER. To that end, the center is in the process of buying one hundred computers.

      Networking and Collaborations

The Institute of Educational Research/IER/ has  strong links for collaborative research and capacity building with international organizations especially with ETS, AAD, University of Cambridge, Ethiopian Higher Education Institutions, etc. The Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and the Regional Education Bureaus are very close partners that have stakes in research and staff training services. They also are the primary consumers of IER’s publications.

Higher education institutions in Ethiopia are just beginning to strengthen partnership with IER in sharing expertise, pedagogical resources, documents and technologies.