University of Oslo, (UiO) - PhD Candidate (Faculty of Medicine)

The University of Oslo is Norway’s oldest and highest ranked educational and research institution, with 28 000 students and 7000 employees. With its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally recognised research communities, UiO is an important contributor to society.

The Centre for Educational Measurement at the University of Oslo (CEMO) provides a stimulating research environment by bringing internationally renowned substantive and methodological experts together. Research at CEMO combines basic research and applications of advanced measurement techniques to solve core educational problems. CEMO also contributes to the development of measurement competence through teaching and outreach. The centre is part of a broad international network and manages several externally funded research grants.

PhD Candidate (Faculty of Medicine)

Deadline Sunday, July 16, 2017

In cooperation with the Faculty of Medicine, the Centre for Educational Measurement at the University of Oslo (CEMO) does research on the examination and grading system in the undergraduate medical training program. The project’s main objective is to foster and enhance existing examination and testing practice and to, ultimately, offer measurement approaches also applicable to other fields in higher education.

The research conducted has an applied focus but is founded in the field of educational measurement. One fully-funded (100%), three-year PhD position with a possible extension to four years (including 25% duty work, f. ex. counselling) is attached to this research context. The successful candidate’s research should address one or two of the following topics:

Job description

  • Criterion-referenced testing – From this perspective, grades should not be justified in relation to other student’s performance (e.g. as in “grading on a curve”) but in relation to actual mastery of content. Criterion-referenced testing will play an increasingly important role in higher education in Norway as universities are urged to introduce such approaches. This sets an ideal context for research that examines the methodological prerequisites, for example by using item-response theory.
  • Expert judgment in determining item properties – Usually, psychometric approaches rely on students’ responses to an item in determining item difficulty. However, teachers and subject matter experts might have a different perspective on the same item and regard it as basic knowledge that should be mastered easily. A research question is how these perspectives can be integrated methodologically to provide combined evidence for the quality of an assessment.
  • Multi-stage testing – The main purpose of multi-stage testing is to offer more efficient assessments (i.e. convenient in test length while not compromising on measurement precision). This is especially important when exams have the doubly purpose of informing pass/fail decisions and differentiating between several levels of mastery (grading). Benefits and limitations of multi-stage testing in higher education need to be examined.
  • Use of Item Response Theory (IRT) in “small N” scenarios with 50 to 200 students – Recommendations on minimal sample size for IRT analyses vary in the literature. While IRT offers many interesting possibilities, its usefulness in “small N” scenarios is often doubted. Research is needed that examines the applicability of IRT in higher education assessments which often are characterized by a small number of participants.

Selected responsibilities of the PhD candidates:

  • Contribute with original ideas for research problems within the topics described above
  • Data analysis and publication of results in international peer-reviewed journals and presentations at scientific conferences.
  • Active participation in the interdisciplinary project group including CEMO and the Medical Faculty and motivation to collaborate with further departments

Positions as research fellows are fixed-term educational posts where the aim is that the research fellow completes a doctoral degree (PhD) during the period of employment. A prerequisite for the employment is admission to the PhD program of the Faculty of Education, and applicants’ formal and other qualifications for admission will therefore also be assessed. The PhD candidate is expected to participate actively in the organized research training and in the Faculty’s research community. The fellowship period may be reduced within the framework of pertaining regulations based on previously held research fellowship positions.

Qualification requirements

Applicants should be familiar with basic principles of item-response theory, computerized adaptive testing or other areas in the field of educational measurement relevant for the research topics described above. Experience in use of the R Language for Statistical Computing will be positively evaluated.

Candidates’ profile:

  • Expressed interest in research methods and measurement problems in education or related fields;
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively;
  • Ability to suggest interesting ideas for self-contained research;
  • Interest in interdisciplinary research work across different domains such as education, medicine;
  • Prior knowledge and/or experience with educational measurement is an advantage.

Requirement for admission to the Faculty’s PhD program: 
Completion of a Master degree by the time of employment with a minimum grade B or equivalent (ECTS grading scale) in a relevant field (e.g., Educational, Social or Behavioral Sciences, Psychometrics, Statistics) or a similar higher education program (normally equivalent to two years /ECTS 120 credits), including a Master thesis or equivalent scientific records.

Further information on admission requirements can be found here:

We offer

  • Salary in line with pay grades 50 – 57 (NOK 432 700–490 900 per annum), PhD candidates are normally allocated pay grade 50 on appointment.
  • Pension arrangements in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.
  • Attractive welfare arrangements:

How to apply

The application must be submitted electronically and should normally include the following:

  • Letter of application
  • A curriculum vitae emphasizing the applicants’ background related to the research topics described above
  • Applicants are asked to opt for one or two of the four research topics and elaborate briefly (about 2-3 pages) why and possibly how they would examine this/these question(s).
  • Master thesis and other academic work of relevance to the application
  • 1-2 references with contact information (e.g., Master thesis supervisor)
  • Documentation of the earlier education (diplomas, grade transcripts, descriptions of the course of study)
  • Completed application form for admission to the doctoral degree programme

Applicants from countries outside the Nordic countries where English is not the official language must document their proficiency in English. For more information see:

Incomplete applications will under normal circumstances not be assessed. As a rule, interviews will be conducted as part of the appointment process. Original diplomas and grade transcripts from previous courses of study need to be presented or sent to us from the universities from which the PhD candidate obtained the degrees.

The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system, please follow the link “Apply for this job”.

Formal regulations

Please see the guidelines and regulations for appointments to Research Fellowships at the University of Oslo.

According to the Norwegian Freedom and Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

The appointment may be shortened/given a more limited scope within the framework of the applicable guidelines on account of any previous employment in academic positions.

The University of Oslo has an agreement for all employees, aiming to secure rights to research results a.o.

The University of Oslo aims to achieve a balanced gender composition in the workforce and to recruit people with ethnic minority backgrounds.

Contact persons:

Applicants may contact Postdoctoral fellow Stefan Schauber (, +47 22 85 02 25) to obtain further details about the project.

Further information on the application process can be obtained from Senior Adviser Anne-Catherine Lehre (

Further information about CEMO can be found here:

Apply for this job

Søknadsfrist: 16.07.2017

Kontakt: Postdoctoral fellow Stefan Schauber
Telefon: +47 22 85 02 25

Kontakt 2: Anne-Catherine Lehre (Senior Adviser)