The School of Health Professions Education at Maastricht University is looking for a PhD candidate for the NWO-Vidi project ‘Play, stop, pause? Optimizing learning through effort regulation’.

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 28 Feb 2021

The School of Health Professions Education at Maastricht University is looking for a PhD candidate for the NWO-Vidi project ‘Play, stop, pause? Optimizing learning through effort regulation’.
The School of Health Professions Education at Maastricht University is looking for a PhD candidate for the NWO-Vidi project ‘Play, stop, pause? Optimizing learning through effort regulation’.
Published Deadline Location
10 Feb 28 Feb Maastricht

Job description

Project description

As part of a Vidi research project (together with a PhD candidate who started in November of 2019) and funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), the School of Health Professions Education at Maastricht University offers a PhD student position in Educational Sciences/Psychology. The project aims to unravel, by means of experimental research how students regulate their cognitive effort during self-regulated learning.

PhD project

Over 50% of students in higher education have great difficulty self-regulating their own learning and regularly put effort into ineffective learning activities that do not foster knowledge or skills. This results in inefficient self-study and low learning achievements. How students regulate effort during self-regulated learning, and specifically, how they sustain effort in effective, but effortful learning activities (‘desirable difficulties’) remains unknown.

This Vidi project establishes a novel research paradigm examining the regulation of effort on desirable difficulties during self-regulated learning. The paradigm relies on a cutting-edge integration of instructional design/cognitive load and self-regulated learning paradigms. It will unravel (Aim 1, PhD project 1) how students decide to put effort into desirable difficulties (‘play or stop?’), and (Aim 2, this PhD project) how they optimally (dis)continue effort when engaging in desirable difficulties (‘play or pause?’).

Central to this PhD-project is examining how students optimally regulate effort when immediate learning gains are lacking (e.g., when engaging in desirable difficulties). Because the difficulty level of desirably difficult tasks is optimal, external support or guidance will fail to influence effort regulation. Since desirable difficulties are effortful, but doable and necessary for learning, examining how breaks can aid effort regulation is essential. Four studies will examine how students are trained to determine when to pause or continue studying.

Interviews for this position will (most likely) take place through Zoom.

  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2395—€3061 per month
  • Maastricht View on Google Maps

Maastricht University (UM)



  • Conducting the research (literature research, collecting and analysing data, reporting the results), resulting in international scientific publications and a dissertation;
  • Active participation in the research group of the project and of the department;
  • Receiving training (a.o. in the context of inter-university research school ICO and the local graduate school);
  • Teaching (max. 0.10fte) can be part of the position.

 Job requirements

  • Master in educational sciences, or psychology (educational / (applied) cognitive / experimental, or a related discipline, preferably a research master (completed or nearly completed);
  • Ambition to become a high-potential researcher aimed at excellent scientific research;
  • Social and organizational competencies;
  • Good communication skills (written and oral) and statistical skills;
  • Proficiency in English and Dutch (for foreign applicants: the intention to reach proficiency in Dutch within a short period of time);
  • Ambition to collaborate with (inter)national partners and pay visits to these partners (when Corona circumstances allow for this);
  • Preferably experience or affinity with experimental research.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

The PhD position will be for an initial period of one year starting as soon as possible with an extension of three years after positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility for 0.8 fte. Full time salary range from € 2,395.- to € 3,061.- gross per month (in accordance with the Collective abour Agreement for Dutch Universities)

In addition, we offer attractive and flexible secondary terms of employment such as an annual holiday pay of 8%, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% per year and partially paid parental leave. Finally, we also provide an attractive working environment and a vibrant research climate.

The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. For more information look at the website > Support > UM employees .

Maastricht University

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 20,000 students and 4,700 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.

Additional information

For more information about the PhD position and a summary of the project, please contact Prof. dr. A.B.H. de Bruin, telephone +31 43 388 5773, email

Application procedure

You can apply by sending your motivation letter and CV to:
Please mention also the vacancy number/job number (AT2021.49) and the project name in your application.

Maastricht University is committed to nurturing an inclusive culture and a welcoming atmosphere. This inclusiveness strategy has resulted in a very diverse representation of nationalities and cultures. We strongly believe that diversity (including, but not limited to nationality, age and gender) of the staff and student population will increase the quality of UM education & research. Fostering diversity and inclusivity creates an academic community where individual talents thrive, and values and differences are cherished. We strongly encourage you to apply if you are qualified for this position.

Apply via postal mail
Apply via postal mail

Don't forget to mention AcademicTransfer and the job number: AT2021.49 in your letter.

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