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[Commlist] News: Vacancy - 4-year PhD fellowship at the Centre for English Corpus Linguistics (CECL, UCLouvain, Belgium)

Tue Jul 14 13:05:52 GMT 2020

Vacancy - 4-year PhD fellowship at the Centre for English Corpus Linguistics
(CECL, UCLouvain, Belgium)

Vacancy for 4-year PhD fellowship at the Centre for English Corpus
Linguisics (CECL, UCLouvain, Belgium)

The Centre for English Corpus Linguistics (CECL, UCLouvain, Belgium) has an
opening for a PhD fellowship for a total period of four years, starting 1
October 2020.

The position is part of a large multidisciplinary project that aims to
investigate socio-cognitive conflicts in online educational platforms via the
prism of several theoretical frameworks from the humanities and social
sciences: “MOOCresearch2.0: A mixed-method and multidisciplinary approach
to socio-cognitive conflicts in online educational platforms” (Prof. M.
Frenay, Prof. F. Lambotte, Dr. Magali Paquot & Prof. V. Swaen).(Open) online
education poses a variety of challenges for higher education, one of which is
how to foster social interactions and induce beneficial socio-cognitive
conflicts to promote learning in an environment where interactions are
primarily written and asynchronous. In educational research, socio-cognitive
conflicts are considered essential for progress and learning to take place:
they are differences in point of view that are socially experienced and
cognitively resolved. As put by Darnon, Buchs, & Butera (2002, p. 140),
“confrontation with a partner creates a double imbalance. This imbalance is
both social (inter-individual) because it is a discrepancy between two
persons, and cognitive (intra-individual) because it makes each individual
doubt about his/her own answer. (…) In order to coordinate the different
points of view, a cognitive work emerges from this socio-cognitive conflict,
leading to a more elaborate level of reasoning”
[1] for more info).

Online education is becoming increasingly popular but is mainly offered in
English. Research in bilingual education and content and language integrated
learning (CLIL) has shown that new disciplinary concepts are not acquired as
well in the foreign language as in the first language. This is especially
true for concepts that cannot be directly observed or related to what
learners already know, and which comprehension largely relies on linguistic
mediation (e.g. Babault & Markey, 2001), and for students with lower foreign
language proficiency who find it almost impossible to describe disciplinary
concepts in English (e.g. Airey, 2009). Studies have also shown that results
of evaluative tasks performed in a foreign language are largely dependent on
L2 proficiency (Ventura, 2016). If we transpose these findings to online
education, and MOOCs more particularly (as they aim to increase access to
education, cf. Rohs & Ganz, 2015), it seems particularly important to
investigate whether non-native speakers find in discussion forums a place
where to check comprehension, ask for clarification, and discuss concepts in
social interactions.

The main objective of the PhD project will be to investigate the effect of
language status (native speaker vs. learner) and language proficiency on
negotiation of meaning and the unfolding of socio-cognitive conflicts in
asynchronous forum discussion boards. The following questions will guide the
research programme:

To what extent are non-native speakers present on forum discussions? What
role do they take? How does this compare with native speakers’ presence and
assumed roles?
	To what extent do non-native speakers negotiate meaning with a view to
resolve a misunderstanding due to language problems vs. content-related and
cognitive problems?
	To what extent do non-native speakers take part in the richer content-based
interactions that can potentially give rise to socio-cognitive conflicts and
	To what extent does language proficiency impact non-native speakers’
online presence, the range of roles they assume, the type of discussions they
are involved in, and the types of posts they write?
To answer the research questions, the candidate will rely primarily on
techniques from corpus linguistics and natural language processing.

Job description:

The candidate will work under the supervision of Magali Paquot (CECL,
Institute for Language and Communication). The candidate will be affiliated
to the Institut Langage et Communication (ILC, UCLouvain) and be a member of
the CECL.

The PhD candidate will also be working in a multidisciplinary environment
with other researchers from the Social Media Lab
( [2]), the Interdisciplinary Research Group in
Socialisation, Education and Training
(GIRSEF, [3]), the Louvain Research
Institute in Management and Organizations
(LOURIM, [4]) and the
Centre for Natural Language Processing
(CENTAL, [5]).

Activities that the candidate will perform include:

-develop and implement (i) theoretical concepts in line with the focus of the
research project and (ii) appropriate methodological procedures for
investigating these concepts;

-extract relevant data from MOOC platforms with appropriate computational and
NLP techniques (note that the PhD candidate will be expected to help other
members of the team with data extraction and structuring)

-conduct analyses of forum posts by L1 and L2 speakers of English;

-interpret the results of the analyses and report on the project in
conference presentations and academic publications;

-by the end of the four-year term, submit and defend a PhD dissertation based
on the project.

Requirements and profile:

-    Master degree in (Applied) Linguistics, with a master thesis on a
topic relevant to the project;

-    excellent record of BA and MA level study;

-    excellent command of English;

-    good command of French is an asset but not required;

-    excellent and demonstrated analytic skills;

-    knowledge of corpus-linguistic techniques is a requirement;

-    knowledge of statistics and statistical software is an asset;

-   programming skills in Perl or Python are also an asset (if no expertise
in programming, the candidate should be willing to learn Python during the
first year);

-    excellent and demonstrated self-management skills, ability and
willingness to work in a team;

-    willingness to live in Belgium and to travel abroad (to attend
international academic conferences, etc).

Terms of employment:

-    the contract will initially be for one year, three times renewable,
with a total of four years;

-    the candidate receives a doctoral fellowship grant (starting at
approx. EUR 1982 netper month) and full medical insurance;

-    the position requires residence in Belgium, preferably in or near

-  applicants from outside the EU are responsible for obtaining the
necessary visa or permits, with the assistance of UCLouvain staff department.

Application Deadline: 31 July 2020

Please include with your application:

-      a cover letter in English, in which you specify why you are
interested in this position and how you meet the job requirements outlined

-    a curriculum vitae in English;

-      a concise academic statement in French or English, in which you
outline your expectations about and plans for graduate study and career

-    a copy of BA and MA diplomas and degrees;

-    a copy of your master thesis and academic publications (if

-    the names and full contact details of two academic referees.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview (in situ or via
video conferencing) in the second half of August 2020.

Applications (as an email attachment) and inquiries should be addressed to:

Dr. Magali

Centre for English Corpus Linguistics

Université Catholique de Louvain

Email: (magali.paquot /at/ [6]

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