PhD Candidate in Developmental or Educational Psychology

PhD Candidate in Developmental or Educational Psychology

Published Deadline Location
13 May 3 Jun Amsterdam
How can we make reading tests and teaching practices fairer for children from diverse backgrounds? How do these practices relate to children’s mindset and motivation? Join the NRO-funded project LeesKans as a PhD student to work on these questions.

Job description

Children’s reading proficiency is closely related to their self-beliefs, such as their mindset, and socio-emotional well-being. Current practices for early assessment of reading proficiency, e.g. to detect reading problems, are known to be biased by children’s socioeconomic status (SES) and (multi)lingual background, and thereby might negatively affect reading development and self-beliefs in children from lower SES backgrounds. This PhD position is part of a larger project (LeesKans) in which a new digital dynamic assessment (DA) tool will be developed to differentiate kindergartners based on their potential for learning to read rather than their current knowledge, with the aim to make it less biased. In this PhD project, you will obtain qualitative and quantitative data from and with teachers, parents and children to understand how to optimally implement DA practices without contributing to stigma and fixed-mindset beliefs about potential. Specifically, you will study the association between teacher’s mindsets about learning potential and their teaching practices, such as the type of feedback they provide.

In a parallel PhD project at Maastricht University, the effectiveness of the DA tool for characterizing dynamic developmental changes in both reading and socio-emotional skills in children will be tested. Together, the outcome of both PhD projects will enable teachers in providing improved reading education tailored to the diverse cognitive-motivational needs of individual children. The two PhD projects are part of a larger project funded by a collaborative NRO grant with consortium partners at UM (Milene Bonte), VU University (Nienke van Atteveldt), RID dyslexia institutes (Jurgen Tijms), UvA (Eddie Brummelman), IPABO (Inouk Boerma), Erasmus MC (Hanneke Scholten). Both PhD students will closely work together with this dedicated team of researchers, game designers (game design studio Game Tailors), teachers and children across different regions of the Netherlands. The PhD project at the VU will be based in the Lab of Learning at the section of Clinical developmental Psychology (Faculty of Behavioural ad Movement Sciences). Your daily supervisors will be prof. Nienke van Atteveldt and dr. Tieme Janssen, in close collaboration with dr. Eddie Brummelman (UvA) and prof. Milene Bonte (UM).

Preferred starting date: October or November 2024.

As PhD student, you will:
  • collect, analyze and interpret qualitative data (e.g., focus groups, interviews) from teachers and parents about the future use of dynamic assessment (DA) technology;
  • collect, analyze and interpret quantitative data in experimental (intervention) and observational studies (related to mindset and feedback) with teachers and in classrooms;
  • closely collaborate with an interdisciplinary consortium of researchers, professionals in education and dyslexia healthcare and game designers
  • write scientific papers and present your findings to scientific and general audiences
  • write a PhD thesis based on your scientific papers
  • be involved in the organization of a symposium for researchers/professionals, and a symposium/experience days for children


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • master or research master (MSc) degree in developmental psychology or a related field, such as experimental/cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, educational science
  • strong motivation to conduct empirical research with teachers, parents and children within a highly interdisciplinary and dynamic project team
  • Dutch understanding/speaking skills are a strong advantage (for working with teachers, parents and children)
  • you possess excellent English communication and writing skills
  • preferably you already have hands-on research experience with experimental research and (advanced) statistical analysis techniques

As a university, we strive for equal opportunities for all, recognising that diversity takes many forms. We believe that diversity in all its complexity is invaluable for the quality of our teaching, research and service. We are always looking for talent with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This also means that we are committed to creating an inclusive community so that we can use diversity as an asset.

We realise that each individual brings a unique set of skills, expertise and mindset. Therefore we are happy to invite anyone who recognises themselves in the profile to apply, even if you do not meet all the requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

A challenging position in a socially engaged organisation. At VU Amsterdam, you contribute to education, research and service for a better world. And that is valuable. So in return for your efforts, we offer you:
  • a salary of € 2.770,00 (PhD) and maximum € 3.539,00 (PhD) gross per month in the fourth year, for a full-time employment
  • an employment contract of initially . If there is sufficient perspective, this will be extended to a total of 4 years. Your dissertation at the end of the fourth year forms the end of your employment contract.

We also offer you attractive fringe benefits and arrangements. Some examples:
  • A full-time 38-hour working week comes with a holiday leave entitlement of 232 hours per year. If you choose to work 40 hours, you have 96 extra holiday leave hours on an annual basis. For part-timers, this is calculated pro rata.
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge
  • the possibility to work partly from home
  • discount on (and occasionally exclusive access to) theater performances and courses at the Griffioen Cultural Center


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences
Developing knowledge for an active, healthy and meaningful life: that is our mission at the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences at VU Amsterdam. We maintain a broad focus on the fields of behaviour and health. Our teaching and research programmes are devoted to current developments in society. From healthy aging to e-health, and from training top athletes to social media as a teaching tool. We combine three academic disciplines: psychology, movement sciences and education. A multidisciplinary approach allows us to arrive at a better understanding of human behaviour and movement. Our aims are to help people live healthier lives, learn better and function better.

Are you interested in joining Behavioural and Movement Sciences? You are the kind of person who feels at home working in an ambitious faculty, with an informal atmosphere and short lines of communication. We offer you all the space you need for personal development. Together with your 630 colleagues, you will take care of about 4,200 students.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam stands for values-driven education and research. We are open-minded experts with the ability to think freely. - a broader mind. Maintaining an entrepreneurial perspective and concentrating on diversity, significance and humanity, we work on sustainable solutions with social impact. By joining forces, across the boundaries of disciplines, we work towards a better world for people and planet. Together we create a safe and respectful working and study climate, and an inspiring environment for education and research. Learn more about our codes of conduct

We are located on one physical campus, in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas business district, with excellent location and accessibility. Over 5,500 staff work at the VU and over 30,000 students attend academic education.

Diversity is the driving force of the VU. The VU wants to be accessible and receptive to diversity in disciplines, cultures, ideas, nationalities, beliefs, preferences and worldviews. We believe that trust, respect, interest and differences lead to new insights and innovation, to sharpness and clarity, to excellence and a broader understanding.

We stand for an inclusive community and believe that diversity and internationalisation contribute to the quality of education, research and our services.

Therefore, we are always searching for people whose backgrounds and experience contribute to the diversity of the VU community.

Additional information

Are you interested in this position and do you believe that your experience will contribute to the further development of our university? In that case, we encourage you to submit your application.

Submitting a diploma and a reference check are part of the application process.

Applications received by e-mail will not be considered.

Acquisition in response to this advertisement is not appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 4019


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081BT, Amsterdam

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 3 Jun 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).