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  3. PhD position in Motivational Research (1.0 FTE, 4 years)

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PhD position in Motivational Research (1.0 FTE, 4 years)

Do you have the ambition to become a high-potential Researcher and conduct excellent scientific research?

2 maanden geleden


Domplein, Utrecht, Utrecht
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
36 - 40 uur
€ 2395 - € 3061 per maand


The Department of Education at Utrecht University offers a PhD position in the field of Educational Sciences, more specifically on motivational research, under the supervision of Dr. Barbara Flunger and Prof. Tamara van Gog.

Students’ lack of motivation is a major problem at all levels of education. Over the course of their school career, a significant decrease in students’ motivation has been observed in almost every academic domain (Frenzel et al., 2010; Jacobs et al., 2002). Thus, many students do not reach their full potential, because motivation is a key predictor of academic achievement (e.g., Murayama et al., 2013). Students with low motivation have a higher tendency to drop out of school or not further their education (Vallerand, Fortier, & Guay, 1997). Consequently, there is a need to identify the most effective strategy to buffer against motivational losses.

A common reflex in education is to impose external measures to boost students’ motivation, such as ‘need support’ provided by teachers (i.e., instructional styles that are aimed at promoting students’ autonomy or competence, e.g., through providing choices or guidance). Although prior motivational research has yielded substantial evidence for the beneficial effects of teachers’ need support on students’ motivation and academic outcomes, several important open questions remain, which we intend to start to address in this project. The candidate’s research can, for instance, focus on the underlying dynamics that could drive individual differences in students’ motivation (such as motivational contagion through classmates or the motivation of teachers), based on existing datasets and/or further experimental work. Moreover, because students will encounter many situations in which external need support by teachers is simply not available (e.g., during self-study), data will also be collected in experimental studies to investigate whether students would benefit from applying strategies of need support to promote their need satisfaction themselves. The candidate has the unique opportunity to co-design the exact direction and focus of this project and the studies together with the supervisors.


  • conducting the research (literature research, designing the experiments, recruiting participants, pre-registering studies, collecting and analysing data, preparing and storing data packages for sharing);
  • writing international scientific publications and a dissertation;
  • giving presentations at (inter)national scientific conferences;
  • active participation in the research team of the UU Department of Education;
  • following courses/training (e.g., in the context of Research School ICO, the Interuniversity Centre for Educational Sciences and the local Graduate School);
  • teaching courses or supervising Bachelor’s/Master’s thesis projects (max. 0.1 FTE) can be part of the position.


You have:

  • a Master's degree in educational sciences/ educational psychology, preferably a Research Master's (completed or nearly completed);
  • experience with experimental research and (advanced) statistical methods;
  • the ambition to become a high-potential Researcher and conduct excellent scientific research;
  • social, organizational, and self-regulatory competencies;
  • good communication skills (in writing and verbally);
  • proficiency in Dutch and English.


We offer a PhD position (0.1 FTE, 0.8 FTE can be discussed) for a period of four years. The initial appointment will be for one year, starting September/October 2021, with an extension of four years after a positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis within four years (or five in case of 0.8 FTE). The gross salary ranges between €2,395 and €3,061 (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.

Additional information

For additional information about the PhD position and the project, please contact Dr. Barbara Flunger, via b.flunger@uu.nl.