MA student position at the Faculty of Psychology

MA student position "Neurodiversity in higher education", 2-year part-time (50%) position at the University of Akureyri (UNAK).

We are looking for a highly committed, enthusiastic master's student for a 2-year part-time (50%) position to support the project “neurodiversity in higher education” at the University of Akureyri (UNAK) in Northern Iceland. The position will start in the fall of 2024. The project was initiated by Ass. Prof. Grischa Liebel at Reykjavík University (RU) and will be carried out in close collaboration with his team and with Bifröst University (BU).

The prospective student will be admitted to the Research Master in Psychology under the supervision of Prof. Yvonne Höller at the Faculty of Psychology, University of Akureyri. The project is funded by the collaboration fund of Icelandic Universities.

The University of Akureyri (UNAK) offers a friendly working environment at one of the most beautiful research locations in the world, with many nearby leisure activities. Yvonne Höller leads a highly motivated and very nice team performing research at the BA, MA, and PhD level in topics of seasonal affective disorder, EEG technology, epilepsy, air pollution – and now also neurodiversity.

About the Project:

Neurodiversity describes variation in brain function between individuals, including conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or Dyslexia. Neurodiversity is common in the general population, for example, about 10% of the Icelandic population have Dyslexia. Neurodivergent individuals face substantial barriers in society, e.g., due to difficulties in communication or reduced attention span. In higher education, struggles to succeed are well-documented. However, while neurodivergent conditions have traditionally been considered as disabilities, neurodivergent individuals often exhibit strengths in comparison to neurotypical individuals.

Following the Universal design for learning principles where pedagogy is changed for all students we aim at improving the learning outcome for neurodiverse and non-neurodiverse students alike in selected courses. We propose to start the project in Fall 2024. We will conduct three rounds of interventions, based on materials that are based on scientific evidence, are co-created with neurodivergent students, and that are continuously optimised. Universal design for learning principles include, e.g., more flexibility and choice, information presentation in multiple modalities (verbal, visual, text), encouraging students to express themselves in alternative ways (written or oral), and allowing assistive technologies and information and communication technologies, among others.

The project aims at:

  1. creating support and training material for teachers and supporting staff in higher education in Iceland on inclusion of neurodivergent students;
  2. evaluating these materials in different courses across the exemplary study lines of computer science and psychology of the involved universities;
  3. analysing the extent to which neurodiversity is common among the student populations via self-report questionnaires; and
  4. disseminating the results of subgoals 1-3 to well-defined target groups through various channels, i.e., on a scientific level, university stakeholders, affected individuals, and the general public.

Under the supervision of Yvonne Höller at the Department of Psychology at UNAK the student will:

  • support the preparation of the study materials
  • support the preparation of the application to the national bioethics committee
  • support the piloting of the created material in at least 4 courses at the Faculty of Psychology
  • collect and analzye data about the prevalence of neurodiversity effect and about the effects of the intervention
  • and disseminate results via one scientific publication and communication to the public via traditional media and social media.

Required skills:

  • A Bachelor degree in psychology
  • Basic statistical skills for the evaluation of questionnaire data
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English
  • Excellent scientific skills such as literature research and scientific writing
  • Excellent organization skills

Desired skills:

  • Experience with data collection via online questionnaires
  • Experience with questionnaires
  • Experience with interviews
  • Fluency in the Icelandic language in written and oral communication

Deadline 31.05.24

Approval of registration for Master studies is a condition for employment. A minimum GPA of 7,25 for the BA in the Icelandic grading system is an entry requirement for the program.

Applications including a CV, Bachelor and other relevant Diploma copies in English, 2 contacts of reference (e-mail/phone), and a motivational letter or video (as a link) should be sent to: Prof. Yvonne Höller,