PhD in Psychometrics/Methodology and Statistics: Psychometric innovations for measurement in adaptive learning systems

PhD in Psychometrics/Methodology and Statistics: Psychometric innovations for measurement in adaptive learning systems

Published Deadline Location
16 Apr 20 May Tilburg

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Tilburg University - Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences is looking for a PhD in Psychometrics/Methodology and Statistics: Psychometric innovations for measurement in adaptive learning systems, for the Department of Methodology and Statistics, location Tilburg.

Job description

Project description
In this project, you will be carrying out psychometric research with the aim to write several articles that are publishable in peer-reviewed journals and present your work on national and international conferences. Your research combines modern psychometrics, including new data technologies, with learning analytics and educational technology.

You will become part of the Department of Methodology and Statistics and will join an active research group in psychometrics. This project is supervised by dr. Maria Bolsinova, dr. Matthieu Brinkhuis (Utrecht University) and prof. Jeroen Vermunt.

One of the most promising ambitions in educational technology is the move towards large-scale personalized learning enabled by the development of online adaptive learning systems. These systems dynamically adjust the level of practice and instructional material based on the individual student's abilities. Adaptive learning systems aim to make tailor-made education available to everyone and to improve both the learning process and the learning outcomes. To optimize feedback, instructions, and learning material, one needs to have continuously updated, accurate and reliable measures of the students’ changing abilities. This makes measurement one of the central issues in adaptive learning. However, the adaptive, dynamic, and large-scale nature of online learning systems poses challenges for traditional measurement models and algorithms. This project is devoted to developing and evaluating innovative computationally efficient algorithms for monitoring ability in adaptive learning systems. 

The main focus of the project is on incorporating process data (e.g., response times, number of actions and type of action sequences, eye-tracking data, hint usage, mouse movement data) into measurement in adaptive learning systems. Existing algorithms for tracking ability which incorporate process data make strong assumptions about the relationship between ability and process data, which do not necessarily hold in practice. New methods are needed for evaluating how quality of measurement is affected when the assumptions behind the existing models and algorithms are violated. Furthermore, more flexible methods which would take individual differences in test-taking behavior into account need to be developed. As a PhD candidate on this project, you will work on development and application of such methods. With this, the project will contribute to the advancement of psychometrics in optimally handling dynamic learning settings and making the most of process data. As such it will build the foundations for developing learning systems in which measurement is rooted in psychometric theory and where different sources of information about the students are combined for better personalization and for providing teachers and students with reliable information about their progress.

Your position
We are looking for a talented and ambitious PhD candidate in psychometrics to develop and apply innovative psychometric methods and algorithms for measurement in online adaptive learning systems, with a focus on using process data. 

The position also involves contributions to teaching, giving the candidate the opportunity to build a teaching portfolio during the PhD project. The position and the environment in which the candidate will be embedded provide an optimal starting point for an academic career in academia in general and psychometrics and statistics in particular. The candidate will follow a customized track of graduate courses as part of the Interuniversity Graduate School of Psychometrics and Sociometrics (IOPS) program, which will further develop the candidate’s research skills, background knowledge, and network.

Your responsibilities  

  • Your research work includes literature reviews, developing and extending statistical methodologies, analysing theoretical & practical properties, conducting simulations, analysing empirical data, and writing software.
  • You will prepare scientific articles to be published in international journals, present key findings at national and international scientific conferences, and write a dissertation.
  • You will contribute to Open Science and Team Science.
  • You will actively participate in the Department of Methodology and Statistics.
  • You will contribute to education and supervision (e.g. supervising bachelor’s theses and research skills groups).


Tilburg University


Your background
Candidates can come from a wide range of backgrounds, including methodology and statistics, psychometrics, quantitative psychology, educational measurement, educational technology, learning analytics, data science, artificial intelligence, or computer science. 

In addition, an ideal candidate should have: 

  • Programming and data analytic skills (e.g., R, Python, or others)
  • Interest in conducting high-quality research with societal relevance 
  • Interest in developing and applying advanced statistical methods
  • Communication and cooperation skills and willingness to work in a team
  • Project management and organization skills
  • Interest in open science and team science
  • Proficiency in English, including academic writing

Furthermore, the candidate should have (nearly) completed a Master’s degree with excellent academic results, for example in one of the fields mentioned above. 

Increasing your value
With us, you will find everything you need to maximize your potential and development. We offer excellent facilities and support for research, education, and making societal impact. In all three of these areas, we “recognize and reward” you in line with national university aspirations. With great opportunities such as collaborating in an academic collaborative center, or participating in our Connected Leading program. We attach great importance to team spirit and have a clear, shared vision of (personal) leadership (Connected Leading). Read more about careers at Tilburg University and personal development here.  

Conditions of employment

Your terms of employment
Your valuable contribution will be rewarded with attractive benefits and sufficient attention to work-life balance. Our offer includes:

  • A position based on 1.0 FTE (40 hours per week)
  • This is a vacancy for a temporary position in accordance with Article 2.3, paragraph 5 of the CLA for Dutch Universities. You will be given a temporary employment contract for the duration of 12 months. After this period, in case of proven suitability and continuation in the same position, you will receive a subsequent employment contract that can be extended to a maximum duration of 48 months. 
  • A salary ranging from a minimum of € 2.770 to a maximum of € 3.539 gross per month for full time employment, based on UFO profile PhD and salary scale PR of the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. 

In addition to your monthly salary, you will receive 41 vacation days (for a 40-hour work week), a holiday allowance (8%), and a year-end bonus (8.3%). We reimburse the full cost of sustainable commuting: walking, cycling, or public transportation. We have a moving expenses scheme that makes it attractive to live close to the university. You will be enrolled in the ABP pension fund through us. Our Options Model allows you to choose from a variety of facilities at a tax advantage. You can work in a hybrid manner: on campus and, for a reimbursement, from home. Researchers from outside the Netherlands may qualify for a tax-free allowance of 30% of their taxable salary if they meet the relevant conditions. The university applies for this allowance on their behalf.

Your work environment
You will work in a pleasant working environment; a green campus with plenty of facilities. At a leading, entrepreneurial, and innovative university in the humanities and social sciences. The university employs 2,400 staff members and hosts 20,000 students of some 100 different nationalities. For nearly a century, this organization has worked together with a tradition aimed at contributing to society. We strive to be a community where differences in age, gender, orientation, and cultural and religious backgrounds are valued, with equal opportunities for colleagues and students and where, moreover, all decisions take into account the importance of preserving the Earth for future generations. 

Read more about the university here.


Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences (TSB) is one of the five faculties of Tilburg University. The teaching and research of the Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences are organized around the themes of “Adaptive societies, organizations, and workers”, “Healthy life span”, and “Personalized prevention and care”. The School’s inspiring working environment challenges its workers to realize their ambitions, involvement and cooperation are essential to achieve this.   
Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences | Tilburg University


For more information about the department Methodology and Statistics, see:


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 22262



Warandelaan 2, 5037 AB, Tilburg

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