PhD position on privacy and ethics in Learning Analytics

November 16, 2021

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PhD position

There is a vacancy for a PhD position at the Faculty of Psychology, Centre for the Science of Learning & Technology (SLATE), at the University of Bergen, within the field of learning analytics, in particular related to data protection and privacy. The position is for a fixed term of 3 years and the co-supervisor will be from the Faculty of Law.

The Centre for the Science of Learning & Technology (SLATE) is a learning sciences research centre that carries out interdisciplinary research on the use of data and learning analytics to understand learning, teaching, and creative knowledge processes across the full learning lifespan. Hosted at the Faculty of Psychology, SLATE has a broad mandate as a national research and competence centre for learning analytics. We are a dynamic and including milieu of 18 persons, including faculty, researchers, adjuncts, postdocs, PhDs candidates, and support staff.

About the project/work tasks:

The notion of data protection and its principles as a norm has been increasingly raised in the fields of AI and Learning Analytics. The adoption of recent legal and regulatory framework regarding data protection (i.e., GDPR) and its impact on national laws, the increasing demands for fairness and transparency in the collection, analysis and reporting of student data, as well research and institutional endeavours to adopt Learning Analytics, are key drivers for this PhD project.

Since 2011, Learning Analytics has expounded its potential to increase student support and enhance the learning experience. Central to Learning Analytics is the collection, storage, analysis and use of student data to improve learning and the learning environment (e.g., feedback). However, it is not clear what levels of awareness and understanding students have about the scope of the use and their rights regarding their personal data. Learning Analytics, like many AI and Big Data practices, is prevalent with data protection and privacy problems and ethical issues, which continue to grow in complexity.

This PhD project will focus on understanding and mapping data protection and privacy issues surrounding algorithms and the use of student data for learning analytics, and how to explain these to relevant stakeholders. In addition, the project will investigate the visions of learning analytics together with demands of the data protection regulations on understanding opportunities and challenges in learning analytics in general, and in the Norwegian context in particular.

In addition to their research, the PhD candidate is expected to:

  • be involved in a joint work between SLATE and the Faculty of Law
  • contribute to a knowledge base of scenarios of the application of learning analytics and how the data protection and privacy laws apply
  • participate in SLATE activities and contribute to the life of the Centre

Qualifications and personal qualities:

  • The applicant must at the time of application hold a master’s degree or the equivalent in either Information Science, Informatics, Psychology, Education Science, or related fields
  • For admission to the doctoral programme, grade B or above is normally required on the master’s thesis
  • Experience with learning analytics is an advantage
  • Experience with data protection and privacy is an advantage
  • Work independently and in a structured manner, as well as ability to cooperate with others
  • Basic command of the Norwegian or Scandinavian language can be an advantage
  • Proficiency in both written and oral English is a necessity

About the PhD position:

The duration of the PhD position is 3 years. The employment period may be reduced if you have previously been employed in a recruitment position. You cannot be employed in a PhD position for more than one fixed-term position at the same institution.

About the research training:
As a PhD Candidate, you must participate in an approved educational programme for a PhD degree for a period of 3 years. When your application is evaluated for the position, you will also be evaluated for admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Psychology.

You will find further information about the PhD programme at the Faculty of Psychology here

We can offer:

  • Exciting development opportunities as part of your role in a strong professional environment
  • Salary at pay grade 54 (Code 1017/Pay range 20, alternative 10) in the state salary scale. This currently amounts to an annual salary of NOK 491 200 before taxes. Further promotions are made according to qualifications and length of service in the position.
  • Enrolment in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • Good welfare benefits

Your application must include:

  • Cover letter with a brief account of your research interests and motivation for applying for the position
  • Project description (3 - 5 pages including references) (contact Dr. Khalil if you want more information)
  • CV
  • Transcripts and diplomas (all higher education)
  • The names and contact information for two reference persons. One of these must be the main supervisor for the master’s thesis or equivalent.
  • Relevant certificates
  • Applicants with foreign education must enclose certified translations to English or Scandinavian if the original Diploma and grade transcripts are not already in one of these languages. The applicants must also enclose a confirmation from NOKUT that the education is recognized to be in accordance with the Norwegian master’s degree. The review from NOKUT may take some time and the application should be sent to NOKUT as soon as you have decided to apply for the position. If no answer within the application deadline, please enclose documentation from NOKUT that they have received your application. Some qualifications from the Nordic countries are automatically recognized, please check NOKUT.
  • Any of your publications you want to be included in the evaluation of your application

For more information

Detailed information about the position can be obtained by contacting:

  • Dr. Mohammad Khalil, Centre for the Science of Learning & Technology (SLATE), Faculty of Psychology,, +47 412 09 272

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