PhD Position: Digital Literacy, Time Use, Academic Performance in Primary and Secondary Education

PhD Position: Digital Literacy, Time Use, Academic Performance in Primary and Secondary Education

Published Deadline Location
1 May 1 Jun Amsterdam

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Job description

We are looking for a motivated PhD candidate in the social and behavioural sciences with a strong quantitative background for the interdisciplinary project "Joint relations of digital literacy, time use, and academic performance in primary and secondary education".

The aim of the project is to investigate how digital literacy and time use (how much time is spent on different activities during the day) affect students' academic performance using longitudinal data.

The PhD project has a large interdisciplinary supervision team consisting of (in alphabetical order) Prof. Dr Andries van der Ark (Methods and Statistics), Dr Brenda Jansen (Developmental Psychology), Dr Minh Hao Nguyen (Communication Science), and Dr Bieke Schreurs (Educational Science). The position is embedded in the new research-priority area Youth Digitality of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. You will be a member of the Programme Group Developmental Psychology in the Department of Psychology. Yet, you are encouraged to join research meetings of Communication Science, Educational Science, and Methods and Statistics as well.

The project

In the digital age, digital literacy is a prerequisite for learning primary academic skills such as language and arithmetic. On the one hand, engaging in digital activities during leisure time might facilitate the development of digital literacy, and in turn benefiting the development of academic skills, as children can take better advantage of digital learning programs. On the other hand, engaging in digital activities leaves less time for other activities that may contribute to academic development such as sleeping sufficiently, studying, and reflecting. This project investigates the complex reciprocal relation of digital-literacy development, academic development, and time use for primary and secondary-school students. First, an adaptive maximum-performance digital-literacy test is constructed for reliable and valid measurement of digital literacy. Second, a method for modelling and measuring students' time use is developed. Third, an in-depth analysis of the multivariate reciprocal relation among digital literacy, academic performance and time use is conducted on longitudinal cohort data, to empirically test scientific hypotheses on this joint relationship, as well as popular beliefs, such as that screen time is detrimental to academic development. Finally, to facilitate widespread use of our developed digital-literacy test, the digital-literacy test and the time-use measures are implemented in an online practice programme, which allows students to practise their digital-literacy skills in an attractive gaming environment, at their own level.

The project is one of three projects of the research-priority area Youth Digitality that start in September 2023. These three projects collaborate and obtain their data from a joint cohort study, using Dutch students aged between 10 and 18 years.

You will:
  • complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • gain knowledge of the field through literature survey, discussion with team members, and internal lab meetings;
  • contribute to the design of experiments and perform experiments;
  • analyse and interpret results of experiments;
  • present results at local, national and international scientific meetings;
  • assist in teaching (10% of your time) undergraduates and Master's students and co-supervise junior scientists (MSc/BSc students).


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


Your experience and profile:

You are passionate about empirical research. You enjoy working in a diverse setting, as you will be working in an interdisciplinary, collaborative project. You are a team player and a nice colleague with good communication skills as you will regularly join and present at lab meetings as well as at relevant (inter)national meetings.

Your experience and profile:
  • MSc (preferably research master) in Communication science, (Developmental) Psychology, Educational Science, Methods and Statistics, or Pedagogics;
  • Strong quantitative background;
  • Good analytical, writing, and presenting skills;
  • Good project and time management skills enabling you to meet the projects' deadlines for finishing analyses, reports and other deliverables;
  • Eager to learn new things, high conscientiousness, flexibility, and a collaborative attitude;
  • Fluency in English, both written and spoken.
Experiences that are not necessarily required but will make an application more successful:
  • in depth knowledge about one or more of the core topics of the project: digital literacy, test construction, time budgets, primary or secondary education, modelling longitudinal data;
  • some knowledge of Dutch, as the digital-literacy test tests will be in Dutch;
  • knowledge of R or Python.

Conditions of employment

The position concerns temporary employment of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of 4 years. The initial employment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended to a total duration of 4 years, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. The preferred starting date is 1 September 2023. We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events. You will also be tasked with teaching Bachelor's and Master's students.

For this position the University Job Classification profile 'Promovendus' applies.

Your salary will be €2.541,- gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3.247,- in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

What else do we offer
  • a position in which initiative and input are highly valued
  • an enthusiastic and warm team that is open to new colleagues
  • an inspiring academic and international working environment in the heart of Amsterdam.


Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 39,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds.

About the faculty

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organization. The social and behavioral sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 11558


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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