Netherlands: PhD position in Social Sciences & Informatics

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You will carry out your research within the project Teacher regulation of learning in interaction. This project focuses on the role of the teacher in computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environments. The project is situated within the Research Centre Learning in Interaction, which is part of the Langeveld Institute for the Study of Education and Development in Childhood and Adolescence.

A major problem for teachers employing collaborative learning is the coaching of various student groups in different phases of task fulfillment. This problem is due to both lack of information about ongoing learning processes and lack of means for coaching and scaffolding during the collaboration process. CSCL environments allow the provision of teachers with (a) process information on participation, task fulfillment and collaboration and (b) tools that help them coach and scaffold groups not optimally collaborating.

The role of the teacher during CSCL is largely similar to his/her role during face-to-face collaborative learning. Teachers using CSCL are also expected to facilitate, coach, tutor, and guide groups of students. However, little is known about teachers’ roles while guiding students’ learning processes during CSCL and how the teacher regulates students’ online collaboration. CSCL-environments also offer an opportunity to assist and support teachers whilst guiding groups of students.

This project aims to study the role of the teacher in CSCL-environments. In three consecutive studies, teacher activities and interventions will be studied, as well as the effects of teachers’ activities on student collaboration, and the support of teacher activities using tools and scaffolds.

We expect that, under the guidance of senior scientists and a professor as supervisors, you will, first, be capable of building a suitable theoretical framework for carrying out this research. Based upon that framework, you will then carry out a series of three publishable empirical research studies that form the basis of your PhD dissertation. As is apparent, we place great value on the production of high quality research articles. In the PhD trajectory you will participate in learning activities, e.g. in the ICO research school, The Dutch Interuniversity Centre for Educational Research.


We are looking for someone who has:

  • a master’s degree in a relevant academic subject area such as the Social Sciences (e.g., psychology, education, cognition), Informatics, or the Language Sciences
  • affinity for collaborative learning, cognitive learning theory, and the use of information and communication technology in education (apparent either through prior study or publications)
  • a working knowledge of secondary and/or higher education
  • good communication skills and a willingness to work with others
  • a good written and oral command of the English and Dutch language
  • sufficient technological knowledge so as to be able to work with communication software, and to translate research results in desired characteristics of technology
  • the ability to fulfill different roles such as learner, teacher, technologist, and researcher
  • the drive to improve education
  • the drive to become an active member of the research community that studies and publishes in this field.

Conditions of employment

The initial appointment to the position will be made for a 0,9 fte for 1 year that, with satisfactory completion, will result in an extension for an additional 3 years. It is expected that the appointee will complete all requirements for the PhD degree within this period. This PhD position can be extended with 0,1 fte by teaching (under)graduate courses of the department.

The expected start date is no later than September 1, 2010. The salary is € 2,042 gross per month in the first year and is expected to increase to € 2,612 gross per month in the fourth year, for a full time appointment, contingent on satisfactory performance.

We offer an enjoyable working environment and a stimulating research climate.

More information about the employment conditions can be found on the website.

Contract type


Utrecht University, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences carries out relevant scientific research of a very high quality and provides challenging academic teaching in the fields of human behaviour and society. The Faculty’s research and teaching contribute to a critical reflection on society, human behaviour and their interconnection. More than 5,650 students follow a broad range of undergraduate and graduate (academic and research) programmes, set up by a collaboration of five departments: interdisciplinary social science, sociology, methodology and statistics, pedagogical and educational sciences, and psychology. As a result of the Faculty’s wide variety of programmes and innovative and groundbreaking research, some 750 staff members have ample opportunity to benefit from each other’s knowledge and expertise

Additional information

Are you interested? If so, you can get more information by contacting: Dr. G. Erkens (,  tel. +31 (0)30 253 3223), or Dr. J. Janssen (, tel. +31 (0)30 253 4798).

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