PhD Position in Response Technology Applied in Education

Trondheim, Norway
10 Dec 2019
End of advertisement period
01 Feb 2020
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

We offer a 3 or 4 (with teaching duties) year fully funded PhD position at the Information Systems and Software Engineering (ISSE) group of the Department of Computer Science, NTNU. The focus of this position is on the exploring the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques in the frame of response technology applied in educational settings. More specific, the aim is to identify methods, models and visualizations that allow open text questions to be used in interactive lectures in an efficient manner. The position is related to work taking place in the Excited Centre for Excellent IT Education (

In general response technology is reported in literature as a driver of positive change that promotes ownership and engagement. While using multiple choice questions is fairly simple and straightforward, free text questions pose a set of challenges that are on one hand related to the relatively large variability in expression using text and on the other hand to the amount of information that is too large to be processed efficiently in front of an audience.

AI and NLP have the potential to greatly improve how we provide feedback on text gathered with response technology (RT) from (relatively) large audiences. The amount of information, as provided, is usually large and hard to process in front of an audience. AI and NLP can be used to structure and simplify results into an immediately manageable format that can alleviate the heavy cognitive load that otherwise such questions would impose on the lecturer. This can improve the dialog driven by such questions. An example might be a teacher that wants to provide meaningful feedback to a (relatively) large group of students in a lecture hall.

The ideal candidate will be able to approach this topic from a broad perspective that combines AI/NLP, response technology and education.  To do so, a combination of prototype development and both quantitative and qualitative research methods will be employed. The aim of this project is to understand how such an approach could impact response technology applied in education. We are looking for candidates with a strong research perspective that can publish their work in leading academic journals and conference proceedings.

The position reports to head of department

Main duties and responsibilities

The goal of this project is to explore the potential value of employ AI / NLP techniques to create new possibilities for using open text questions in interactive lectures. This work will build on an interdisciplinary approach, bridging the domains of IT applied in education and AI/NLP. The successful candidate is expected to have a strong background in AI / NLP, be knowledgeable about research methods and competent in quantitative research techniques. The suitable candidate should also have experience with reading and reflecting on research papers in the domains of IT in education and AI/NLP. We are seeking a highly motivated individual that wants to excel in a research environment and has strong academic ambitions.

The PhD candidate will therefore contribute to generate knowledge regarding the use and deployment of AI in educational settings to enhance response technology.

Part of the main duties and responsibilities include conducting the following:

  • Perform literature reviews and be able to synthesize knowledge
  • develop prototypes and test them with real users
  • create AI models and integrate them in prototypes and services
  • Conduct interviews and focus groups with relevant stakeholders
  • Collect, analyze and interpret quantitative data with the use of statistical analysis software
  • Communicate and disseminate results to academic and non-academic stakeholders

Qualification requirements

A master’s degree in Computer Science or equivalent with very good results is required, or an education at the equivalent level (equivalent to 120 ECTS). The applicant must satisfy the requirements for admission to the PhD education at NTNU (c.f. and In particular, admission to the PhD education at NTNU requires an average grade of at least B, within a scale of A-E for passing grades (A best) in terms of NTNU’s grading scale, for the last two years of the master’s degree. Candidates near completion of their Master’s degree are encouraged to apply.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, postdoctor and research assistant

Other qualifications:

  • The applicant should have a strong background in AI / NLP
  • The applicants master thesis must be research-oriented
  • Publication activities in relevant disciplines will be considered an advantage
  • A strong background in research methods and particularly knowledge on qualitative techniques,  quantitative techniques and statistical analysis is required
  • Experience with IT applied in education or response technology will be considered a plus
  • Experience with AI  applied to analyze text will be considered a plus
  • Excellent English written and oral communication skills
  • Non-Norwegian-speaking applicants must provide evidence of good English language skills. The following tests can be used as such documentation: TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE). Minimum scores are:
    • TOEFL: 600 (paper-based test), 92 (Internet-based test)
    • IELTS: 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5 (only Academic IELTS test accepted)
    • CAE/CPE: grade B.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, as well as motivation, in terms of the qualification requirements specified in the advertisement. NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA

Personal characteristics

  • enjoy working in a team-based environment, but also be able to conduct independent activities and thinking
  • have a problem-solving attitude
  • have an inquisitive nature and enjoy cross-disciplinary challenges
  • be highly motivated to publish in top academic conferences and journals in the information systems domain

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, as well as motivation, in terms of the qualification requirements specified in the advertisement

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 479 600 before tax per year. From the salary, 2 % is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years without teaching assistance or 4 years with teaching assistance. Appointment to a PhD position requires admission to the PhD programme in Information Technology.

As a PhD candidate, you undertake to participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period. A condition of appointment is that you are in fact qualified for admission to the PhD programme within three months.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criterias in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

General information

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. Under the Freedom of Information Act (offentleglova), information about the applicant may be made public even if the applicant has requested not to have their name entered on the list of applicants.

Questions about the position can be directed to Associate Professor George Adrian Stoica, phone number +47 9126 2853, e-mail: , or head of department Professor John Krogstie, e-mail:

About the application:

The application must contain the following:

  • Curriculum vitae (CV) with information about the candidate’s prior training, exams, and work experience
  • Certified copies of transcripts and diplomas for the whole bachelor and master’s degree. An English translation of all education documents is required unless the documents are in Norwegian.
  • Applicants from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement or a similar document that describes in detail the study and grading system and the rights for further studies associated with the obtained degree
  • Research statement (max. 4 pages) including:
    • A short presentation of the motivation for a PhD study
    • How the applicant sees his/her background suitable
    • The applicant’s view of research challenges within the area of the PhD position
    • How artificial intelligence can create educational value, and what are the emerging strategic opportunities with a focus on describing current academic literature and how this research fits into this context
    • How the competence of the applicant can contribute to solving these challenges
    • A proposed research plan including appropriate research methods and what theories could be relevant to examine the topic of AI and response technology to create educational value
    • Names and contact information of at least 2 reference persons
  • A copy of the master thesis (in PDF), or, for those who are near to completion of their MSc, an extended abstract combined with a statement of how and when the applicant plans to complete the thesis.
  • Attachments of any other relevant documents (e.g. certificates, diplomas, publications)

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Publications and other academic works that the applicant would like to be considered in the evaluation must accompany the application. Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify the individual applicant's contribution to joint works, the applicant must include a brief description of his or her contribution.

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI):

Applicants invited for interview must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters.

Please refer to the application number 2019/38334 when applying.

Application deadline: 01.02.2020

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Computer Science 

We are the leading academic IT environment in Norway, and offer a wide range of theoretical and applied IT programmes of study at all levels. Our subject areas include hardware, algorithms, visual computing, AI, databases, software engineering, information systems, learning technology, HCI, CSCW, IT operations and applied data processing. The Department has groups in both Trondheim and Gjøvik. The Department of Computer Science is one of seven departments in the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering .

Deadline 1st February 2020
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Trondheim

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