PhD position: Professional learning in software development teams for ethically responsible AI

PhD position: Professional learning in software development teams for ethically responsible AI

Published Deadline Location
1 Feb 23 Feb Enschede

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Job description

Software development teams need the capacity to develop software that meets technical requirements in relation to functionality and reliability, for example. In an increasing number of domains such as education and healthcare, they also need to comply with ethical principles such as transparency, fairness, non-maleficence, responsibility and privacy. There is a rising interest in considering those ethical principles in software development to avoid ethical issues, which gets tangible in the case an AI-cheating software falsely flagging innocent students[1] for example.

To deal with ethical issues in a responsible way, professionals need to develop the skills to identify possible tensions, explore different values, and alternative development practices. Developing responsible software and AI hence requires transformative learning both on the individual and team-level. Currently, we lack insights in how this transformative learning evolves in ongoing practices and how we can better support software development teams in identifying and resolving ethical issues.

Your job

As a PhD-student in this project, you will work on the intersection of science and practice. Understanding and supporting professional learning for ethically responsible AI allows you to study how members of a development team address ethical issues and transform their working practices. Using a multi-method longitudinal research design, you will unravel individual and collaborative transformative learning activities and their specific drivers and triggers. Next, you will design and evaluate tools that support the development of ethical responsible software.

You will work independently on your research while maintaining close connections with other researchers in the section of Professional Learning and Development and stakeholders from small and medium-sized software development companies. You will be expected to report and present your findings for both scientific and non-scientific audiences, such as at scientific conferences, in journal publications, and during meetings with software development communities.



University of Twente (UT)


To be considered for this position, you should:
  • have a MSc degree (or close to completion) in Educational Sciences, Psychology, Business Administration, Human Resource Management, Human Resource Development, Organization Studies, Communication Science, or a related field;
  • have expertise or demonstrable interest in the process of continuous workplace learning and ethical reflection;
  • have an interest in the current challenges and developments in Ethically Aligned Design, Ethics-in-Practice & Responsible-Research-Innovation;
  • have strong methodological knowledge, the project will contain a mix of qualitative and design-based research, possibly combined with intensive longitudinal methods;
  • be able to connect with members of a software development team as well as their stakeholders, and link your research to their values and interests;
  • have good social and communication skills in academic as well as non-academic contexts;
  • have excellent academic writing and organization skills; being able to understand and communicate Dutch is preferrable (for non-Dutch applicants: please indicate your level of Dutch);
  • have proven ability to work independently, but also to collaborate within a team and with relevant stakeholders.

Conditions of employment

We encourage high responsibility and independence, while collaborating with colleagues, researchers, other university staff and partners. We follow the terms of employment by the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Universities (CAO). Our offer contains: a fulltime 4-year PhD position with a qualifier in the first year; excellent mentorship in a stimulating research environment with excellent facilities; and a personal development program within the Twente Graduate School. It also includes:
  • Gross monthly salary of € 2.770 in the first year, increasing each year up to € 3.539 in the fourth year;
  • Excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%, and a solid pension scheme;
  • 29 holidays per year in case of full-time employment;
  • A training programme as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision;
  • A green campus with free access to sports facilities and an international scientific community;
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid);
  • A full status as an employee at the UT, including pension, health care benefits and good secondary conditions are part of our collective labour agreement CAO-NU for Dutch universities.


The department of Professional Learning & Technology is specialised in research on professional learning in and across organisations. Researchers at our department study formal and informal learning of (future) employees, including the use of technology to measure and support professional learning. Our studies often take place in the high-tech, health, and educational sector with the intention to understand, evaluate and optimize professional learning in these various contexts. We aim to understand the interactions between learning processes on the individual, team, and organizational level and design (technology based) interventions to optimize these processes. In our research group, we combine expertise from a range of disciplines (e.g., educational sciences, communication sciences, psychology, business administration). Staff members participate in the ICO research school (the Interuniversity Centre of Educational Sciences) and the Twente Graduate School.Our department is responsible for the courses of the Human Resource Development track of the Master Educational Science and Technology, and the corresponding pre-Master program.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1564


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522NB, Enschede

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