PhD student (AIO) on Learner Modeling and Personalised Interventions

This is your opportunity to make the most of your ambition, your scientific knowledge, and your creativity. It enables you to study, develop, and investigate technological innovations in the field of learning and training.



Education type




Hours a week

Fulltime – 40


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What will you be doing?

Many professional organisations require their personnel to perform well under difficult and often uncertain circumstances, such as in e.g., fire fighting, policing, military operations, and medical treatment. In order to become proficient, learners need to be able to acquire the knowledge and to develop the experience that enables them to deal adequately with the situations that are exemplary and critical for their line of work. There is convincing evidence that competency develops more effectively under conditions of tailor-made and personalized learning. The question how to design learning environments that dynamically adapt to the properties and needs of the learner is therefore one with important theoretical and practical implications.
A challenge is how to utilize the opportunities of new technologies, in particular the use of Learning Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Recent developments show that virtual agents more and more become active partners. Humans and virtual agents have to learn and to perform together as a team, with both having unique strengths and weaknesses. An important issue in the collaborated learning of humans and virtual agents is how they can develop a shared understanding of each other’s role and capabilities. A virtual agent needs to become “human-aware”, by developing and dynamically maintaining a representation of its fellow-learner (a user model). Likewise, a human needs to become “AI-aware”, by developing an understanding and associated expectations about the contributions that its virtual partner can, and cannot deliver. Just as in human-human teams occurs, discrepancies between the mental models of humans and virtual agents will inevitably arise. Partners therefore need to be able to detect any misunderstandings, diagnose the cause, and provide corrective interventions (e.g., explanations) that gets the team back on track.
This PhD project is about conducting research into methods and intelligent technologies that enable the development and dynamic adjustment of a representation of a learner (Learner Modelling). Furthermore, it researches methods to design and deliver interventions that specifically support the learning of the partner (Personalized Learning). Effects of methods and technologies on learning will be investigated by means of empirical and experimental research studies.

This is your opportunity to make the most of your ambition, your scientific knowledge, and your creativity. It enables you to study, develop, and investigate technological innovations in the field of learning and training.

What do we require of you?

The PhD position is for a four-year period. The position is funded by TNO for a joint project of TNO and the Technical University of Delft (TUD), the Department of Interactive Intelligence. The PhD will be under contract of the Technical University of Delft, under its statutory regulations.
TNO and TUD will jointly be involved in the supervision of this project. The PhD will be principally stationed at TNO, location Soesterberg. The collaboration with the TUD will require frequent visits to the Technical University as well.
In addition to research, the PHD position also includes schooling, following the Doctoral Education program of the Technical University of Delft.

The goal of this PhD project is to develop and test theories, models, and methods for learner modelling and explanations for purposes of personalized learning. Activities include:
  • Developing and testing of learner models to provide personalized learning experiences
  • Designing environments for researching learning in human-AI cooperation
  • Designing mental models that support learning in human-AI cooperation
  • Developing and testing methods of personalized explanations

What can you expect of your work situation?

A master degree in cognitive sciences, cognitive and/or experimental psychology, artificial intelligence, or similar. A commitment and interest in Learning, human-agent cooperation, and conducting research is required.

Application process

It is not possible to apply via the TNO website.  Please e-mail your cv and motivation letter to
For this vacancy it is required that the AIVD issues a security clearance after conducting a security screening. Please visit for more information the AIVD website

Has this vacancy sparked your interest?

Then please feel free to apply on this vacancy! For further questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

Recruiter: Lara Hagendoorn
Mobile phone: +31 (0)6-507 40690

Hiring manager: Karel Bosch, van den

Note that applications via email and third party applications are not taken into consideration.


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