At the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Department of Culture and Learning, Campus Aalborg, a 3-year PhD candidate position in the field of Higher Education Development is open for application. The position is vacant from 1 September 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter. Together with a research team consisting of experienced researchers from the Institute of Advanced Studies in Problem-based Learning (IAS-PBL) at Aalborg University, the PhD candidate will conduct a study on “Beliefs, practices and learning trajectories amongst early career university teachers” – The PhD project will contribute to the methodological support of research within Problem-based Learning and pedagogical development at Aalborg University.


  • DEADLINE: 06.06.2023

  • REF NUMBER: 2023-224-05264

Job description

University educators are experts in various disciplines, but not necessarily in pedagogy. Therefore, a wide range of professional development(PD) activities have been organized to support university educators to explore and practice alternative and innovative pedagogical methods that maximize student learning. While most current PD activities focus on supporting the enhancement of constructivism-based and student-centered learning, it is not ensured that the participants of such activities would automatically learn from these PD activities and develop anticipated practices. The linear approaches to thinking on how university educators may learn from PD activities have been criticized, Rather, the research field of how teachers learn is turning to a paradigm that perceives teacher learning as a complex matter involving multiple interacting dimensions, including individual characteristics such as motivation, interest, intentions, cognitions, efficacy, and values in teaching, which may be largely impacted by prior experiences, as well as how educators interact with students, colleagues and their institutional environment. Complex factors may influence university educators’ practice of constructivism-based and learner-centered strategies and methods, including personal factors such as motivation and beliefs about teaching and learning and institutional aspects such as facilities and policies. While educators’ pedagogical beliefs have massive impact on their activities regarding strategy choices, organizing teaching activities and assessments, Discrepancy between educators’ beliefs and practices is often observed, which may generate obstacles to the success of PD activities. In sum, teacher learning from PD activities is situated, context-bounded and culturally sensitive, which calls for further research attention based on mixed methodological designs.

Aalborg University(AAU) provides a particularly interesting case within PD activities since the university has a clear unified pedagogical strategy, which all educators must adhere to. The PBL framework at AAU, even though described in multiple research articles, reports, handbooks, and lampoons, is open for interpretation and multiple different PBL-approaches and practices exists within the university. Therefore, each educator must strive to translate the general principles into meaningful pedagogical practice within their own academic domain. Furthermore, teaching like many other professional competencies, is a craft that one cannot learn through attending lectures and seminars. Thus, the pedagogical principles  must be reinterpreted and enacted be each educator in order for he/she to imbue them with a personalized distillate of meaning and professionalism. This is particularly a challenging matter that demands research when educators start to work in a systemic Problem and Project Based Learning environment(PBL), such as at Aalborg University, without prior knowledge and experiences about PBL.

Surrounding the ongoing activities at the Aalborg University Pedagogical Development Program, which is based on Problem-based and Project-oriented principles, the PhD study aims to explore the following aspects:

  • What pedagogical beliefs the AAU-UP program participants hold prior to, during and after their participation in the program?
  • In which ways their beliefs are aligned with constructivist approaches to learning and teaching which is the base of the AAU-PBL model?
  • In which ways their beliefs develop over the time of their participation in the AAU-UP?
  • In which ways such belief development is aligned with/compatible with their actual practice?
  • What are the enablers and constraints for their development of pedagogical beliefs and practices aligning the constructivist approach in the AAU-PBL model?

The PhD Fellow will be affiliated with two research communities under IAS-PBL. IAS-PBL is a newly established cross-faculty research unit. We can offer a good working environment and mutually respectful collaborative relations. IAS-PBL aims to make room for individual professional development, while at the same time asking for the individual’s commitment to the joint research community.

The teaching obligations of the PhD Fellow will take place at the department’s Bachelor and Master programs.

Qualification requirementsPhD stipends are normally for a period of 3 years. PhD stipends are allocated to individuals who hold a Master’s degree, or expect to have obtained the Master’s degree before the employment date(Statement from thesis supervisor, verified transcripts, thesis contract and documentation of the date of the exam must be enclosed). According to the PhD Order, the PhD study comprises among other requirements: Participation in active research environments, including stays at other, mainly foreign, research institutions, private research enterprises etc. General informationIt is a prerequisite for allocation of the stipend that the candidate will be enrolled as a PhD student at Doctoral School of the Faculty of the Humanities, in accordance with the regulations of Ministerial Order No. 1039 of 27 August 2013(PhD Order).ApplicationPlease visit thewebsite of the doctoral school  for further information on the PhD programme, application procedure, and admission requirements.

To be considered for the position, the application must contain the following and be written in English or Danish:

  • Application form
  • An application that describes your motivation for applying for the position (max 2 pages)
  • Project description of maximum 5 pages ( The project description must include an introduction with project title, scope of the thesis, a problem formulation, a short state-of-the-art within the research field, a short description of the project’s methodological approach and an overview of relevant literature for the project.
  • Copy of diplomas/transcripts
  • Curriculum vitae (CV)
  • List of written work (optional)
  • Sample of written work, e.g. Master’s thesis(optional)
  • Applicants who are planning to complete a doctoral thesis in English and who do not have English as a first language or who have not completed an English language-based Master’s programme (or an equivalent educational achievement in English) shall provide documentation that they have passed one of the following official tests with the respective minimum score: IELTS (band score): 7, TOEFL (paper-based): 600, TOEFL (internet-based): 100. The language test must be no more than five years old at the time of the application.

The applicant’s overall qualifications are assessed by an assessment committee. Shortlisting is used. This means that after the application deadline, the head of department, with the assistance of the chairman of the assessment committee, selects the candidates to be assessed. All applicants will be informed whether they have proceeded for assessment or not. The selected applicants will be informed of the composition of the assessment committee, and each applicant will have the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that concerns him or her. Once the recruitment process is complete, a final rejection will be sent to the applicants who will not be considered for the position.

For further information about the department’s research profile, please refer to the website

Questions about the scholarship can be asked via email to Associate Professor, Nikolaj Stegeager nikolaj@ikl.aau.dkFor questions about practical issues concerning the application procedure contact Gitte Mitzi Hansen,

Wages and employment

Appointment and salary as a PhD fellow are according to the Ministry of Finance Circular of 29 June 2019, on the Collective Agreement for Academics in Denmark, Appendix 5, regarding PhD fellows, and with the current Circular on the employment structure at Danish Universities. AAU wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background or belief.

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