PHD Nurturing cognitive talent: Understanding the role of classroom social experiences in high-ability students’ academic engagement

    KU Leuven
    Psychological sciencesOther
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    17/05/2021 23:59 - Europe/Brussels
    Belgium › Leuven
    To be defined


High-ability students have been found to show lower levels of learning goal orientation and intrinsic motivation for learning (e.g., Lavrijsen, Preckel, Verachtert, Vansteenkiste, & Verschueren, 2020; Ramos, De Fraine, & Verschueren, 2021). This is surprising, given that their higher academic skills are assumed to be conducive to more favorable motivational and educational outcomes. This project aims to shed light on how classroom social and learning experiences (i.e., peer norms, teacher-student interactions, teacher emotions, and cognitively challenging learning tasks) shape high-ability students’ academic motivation and engagement. Integrating giftedness models with general expectancy/control-value models, effects on students’ value and competence beliefs and academic emotions (i.e., boredom) will be investigated. This project combines data for the large-scale longitudinal Talent study in secondary school (N = 3,409 students in 166 classrooms in 27 schools), with an experience sampling method (ESM) study in real-life classrooms. Social and motivational processes among students with different cognitive ability levels will be compared. The PhD-student will lead the data-collection in the ESM-study. About 30 Grade 11 classes from the Talent study will be selected to participate. Classroom engagement will be assessed in situ using mobile phones and will be related to situational variations in the social classroom environment (i.e., perceived teacher support/conflict, teacher engagement, perceived peer engagement) and learning task characteristics (i.e., degree of cognitive challenge).

More Information


  • We offer a full-time PhD position of 1 year, renewable for an additional 3 years (based on a successful intermediate evaluation at KU Leuven after the first year). In total, the PhD-position is for a period of 4 years.
  • You will be able to work in a supportive and stimulating research environment at an internationally renowned university, with many opportunities for learning and development.
  • You will have the opportunity to collaborate with other PhD students and to learn from the expertise of other researchers both within the research unit and within in the inter-university TALENT research team.
  • You will be provided with ample opportunities to share ideas with educational practice and to contribute to improving the evidence base of education and care for cognitively talented youth.
  • Being part of the doctoral school at our faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences at KU Leuven, you will be given the opportunity to follow various training, courses, and workshops during your PhD-trajectory.
  • The starting date of the position is scheduled for September 1 2021, but October 1 2021 is also possible.

Eligibility criteria

  • At the starting date (September or October 1, 2021), you have a master degree in psychology or educational sciences and you graduated with excellent study results.
  • You have strong academic writing skills. 
  • You have excellent skills in statistical analyses and/or willingness to improve these skills to conduct longitudinal and multilevel analyses.
  • You can work independently, accurately, and systematically. You have a collegial, respectful, and collaborative attitude.
  • You are a team player with excellent interpersonal and communication skills both in Dutch and English (a C1 proficiency level for both is needed).
  • You are interested in studying youth’s development in the school context and the role of social classroom relationships.

Selection process

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Karine Verschueren, mail: Karine.Verschueren@kuleuven.be; tel. +32-16-32 61 06.Job interviews will be scheduled on Thursday May 20.
You can apply for this job no later than May 12 via the online application tool 
When applying, please provide a cover letter, CV, transcripts of your grades, and contact details of one or two reference persons.
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.

You can apply for this job no later than 17/05/2021 via the online application tool

Web site for additional job details

Map Information

Job Work Location Personal Assistance locations
Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven

Open, Transparent, Merit based Recruitment procedures of Researchers (OTM-R)

Know more about it at KU Leuven

Know more about OTM-R

EURAXESS offer ID: 626737


The responsibility for the jobs published on this website, including the job description, lies entirely with the publishing institutions. The application is handled uniquely by the employer, who is also fully responsible for the recruitment and selection processes.


Please contact support@euraxess.org if you wish to download all jobs in XML.