PhD Candidate: Promoting Physical Activity in Children Aged 2-6 Years

PhD Candidate: Promoting Physical Activity in Children Aged 2-6 Years

Published Deadline Location
10 Nov 3 Dec Nijmegen

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Job description

Are you interested in studying and promoting physical activity behaviour of young children aged 2-6 years? Do you want to contribute to an active and healthy young generation? As a PhD candidate within the theme 'Active Living' you will investigate how young children in preschool and primary school can be stimulated to be (and remain) active. 

You will be embedded in the Learning, Education and Development research programme at the Behavioural Science Institute (BSI). You will be part of the Active Living research team, which performs both fundamental and applied research on active living throughout the lifespan.

In this PhD project you will focus on the physical activity behaviour of children aged 2-6 years and how this is affected by the transition from preschool to primary school. The role of the children's close social network, including parents and early childhood educators, is also examined. Focusing on the young population is essential to reverse the worldwide growing trend of inactive behaviour, because the basic motor skills and activity behaviour developed in early childhood provide the foundation for the development of an active lifestyle in middle childhood, adolescence, and beyond. The central question is: What motivates children to remain active in the transition from preschool to primary school and how can the close social network facilitate this? 

As a PhD candidate, you will initiate, develop and execute a number of studies. First, you will perform a systematic review of the existing literature. Second, you will conduct a longitudinal study to examine the development of motor skills, motivation and physical activity of children aged 2-6 years during the transition from preschool to primary school. Third, you will perform an analysis of the children's close social network using questionnaires and interview studies. You will write scientific papers, resulting in the completion of a PhD thesis at the end of your employment contract. You will participate in supervision meetings as well as staff meetings of the Learning, Education and Development department and other relevant research meetings, such as those of the Active Living team. As a participant in the BSI Graduate School PhD programme, you will be expected to complete several courses related to the basic professional skills of scientific researchers such as presentation skills, scientific integrity and data management. We will also encourage you to attend and present your work at relevant workshops and conferences. You will have a 10% teaching load and the opportunity to work towards the U University Teaching Qualification.


Radboud University


  • You hold a Master's or Research Master's degree in Social Sciences (Pedagogical Sciences, Psychology), Human Movement Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, or a related discipline.
  • You have good research, methodological and statistical skills.
  • You have affinity with young children (2-6 years) as research subjects.
  • You have a demonstrable interest and experience in academic research (e.g. gained through high-quality thesis research).
  • You have good  written and spoken Dutch language skills so that you will be able to interact well with the young children and parents.
  • You have good written and spoken English language skills as required for scientific publishing.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract) or 3.5 years (5 year contract).

  • It concerns an employment for 0.8 (5-year contract) - 1.0 FTE (4-year contract).
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,770 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,539 from the fourth year onwards (salary scale P).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4-year contract) or 3.5 years (5-year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.
Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.


The Behavioural Science Institute (BSI) is a multidisciplinary research institute and one of the three research institutes of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Radboud University. Our researchers collaborate across the boundaries of psychology, pedagogical sciences, educational sciences, and communication science. Our mission is to strengthen people through understanding the foundations of human behaviour, by creating synergy between different paradigms and by facilitating craftsmanship, curiosity and connection in academic research. 

BSI has seven research programmes covering three major research themes, namely human development, connection and health. BSI conducts fundamental as well as applied/translational research and has excellent facilities and support for lab and field research. Moreover, the institute is known for its successful graduate school and strong commitment to open science.

As part of the Learning, Education and Development research programme, researchers investigate the biological, cognitive, motivational, social and emotional processes related to 'life-long learning'. Within the 'Active Living' theme, we specifically focus on how people can be motivated to start and maintain an active lifestyle and participate in society. We use an interdisciplinary approach, combining disciplines from both within the social sciences and beyond. In addition, we have strong collaborations with societal partners, enabling us to make impact with our research. 

Radboud University
We are keen to meet critical thinkers who want to look closer at what really matters. People who, from their expertise, wish to contribute to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This ambition unites more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University and requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1216524



Houtlaan 4, 6525 XZ, Nijmegen

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