Message posted on 23/01/2023

Postdoc: Epistemological Development in Engineering Education Systems

Postdoc: Epistemological Development in Engineering Education Systems

Are you fascinated about human thinking? And about how technical universities should support epistemological development with education? In this postdoc, you will study and advise “challenge-based learning” design with an emphasis on epistemological development in the educational system including students, teachers and professionals. Read more

Postdoc: Epistemological Development in Engineering Education Systems The Tu/e has a vacancy for a Postdoc "Understanding Epistemological Development in Engineering Education Systems". Position (Post-doctoral) Researcher Department(s): Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences FTE: 1,0 Date off : 15/02/2023 Reference number V39.6271 Apply now

Job description

Technical universities are currently very aware that they have to teach their students about the societal aspects of the engineering profession. As teachers and professionals are exemplars for students, students learn a lot from them about what it means to be a “good professional”: how to think, do research, behave, … Teachers and professionals are therefore very important in bringing across the “right” way of thinking, doing research and behaving. Technical universities nowadays support education that maximizes this learning process. TU/e invests a lot in challenge-based learning (CBL, see video1 and video2), specific open-ended project courses in which students are coached by teachers and professionals to solve real-life problems.

This project focusses on the thinking part. It starts from epistemological development theories in educational sciences that state that (1) students grow in their thinking throughout their higher education from absolute (rationalist) to contextual (constructivist) thinkers; and that (2) this contextual thinking is progress (thus, better) in general, and better for the societal role of future engineers in particular. The latter is said to be so because contextual thinking is considered to leave more room for the connection between engineering facts with individual values and societal norms.

However, a challenge for technical universities remains. If teachers and professionals are more absolute thinkers, they will teach students more absolute thinking, thus hindering instead of improving students’ evolution towards contextual thinking.

Therefore, in this postdoctoral research, you can determine, in mutual agreement with your supervisors, your own priorities on the overall aim of this project to analyze how the interactions in the entire educational system, between students, teachers and professionals in CBL, should support absolute and/or contextual thinking.

  • Critically analyze foundations of the epistemological development concept and the related theories.
  • Develop own quantitative measurement of epistemological development to add to the theory.
  • Empirically analyze how the interactions in the entire educational system, between students, teachers and professionals in CBL, support absolute and/or contextual thinking.
  • Study the effect of specific characteristics of CBL on epistemological development of students, teachers and professionals and co-design CBL to improve it.

You will be embedded in the Philosophy&Ethics group and your focus will strongly be on research. You will work closely together with national and international (EPFL, Switzerland and TUM, Germany) philosophers and educational researchers. And you will collaborate with engaged CBL-teachers to co-design their courses.

Job requirements

  • Motivated researcher, with a PhD in research on Philosophy or Ethics (and a strong interest in education) or a PhD in Education (with a strong interest in Philosophy and Ethics) or a comparable domain.
  • Ability to conduct high quality academic research, reflected in demonstratable outputs. Being excited to do quantitative educational research and link it with philosophical research.
  • Good academic writing skills, such as having an excellent feeling for writing publications, and excellent (written and verbal) proficiency in English, good communication and coordination skills.
  • A team player who enjoys working in a dynamic, interdisciplinary team.
  • A proven ability to manage complex projects to completion on schedule.

Conditions of employment

A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:

  • Full-time employment for 2 years.
  • Salary in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale 10 (min. € 2.960,- max. € 4.670,-).
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs on general skills, didactics and topics related to research and valorization.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • Partially paid parental leave and an allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A TU/e Postdoc Association that helps you to build a stronger and broader academic and personal network, and offers tailored support, training and workshops.
  • A Staff Immigration Team is available for international candidates, as are a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) and a compensation for moving expenses.

Information and application

About us

Eindhoven University of Technology is an internationally top-ranking university in the Netherlands that combines scientific curiosity with a hands-on attitude. Our spirit of collaboration translates into an open culture and a top-five position in collaborating with advanced industries. Fundamental knowledge enables us to design solutions for the highly complex problems of today and tomorrow.


Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more? Please contact the Gunter Bombaerts (Assistant Professor) g.bombaerts[at] for general questions about the project and the content.

Visit our website for more information about the application process or the conditions of employment. You can also contact our HR Advisor, HRServices.IEIS[

Are you inspired and would like to know more about working at TU/e? Please visit our career page.


We invite you to submit a complete application using the apply-button. The application should include a:

  • Cover letter in which you describe your motivation and qualifications for the position.
  • Curriculum vitae, including a list of your publications and the contact information of three references.
  • List of self-selected ‘best publications’.

We look forward to receiving your application. We will start screening applications after Wednesday February 15, but the vacancy will remain open until the position is filled.

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