Current students and their projects

Efim Nemtcan

Efim Nemtcan, master student.

Between 20-25% of Norwegian students drop-out from bachelor’s degree programs (Aamodt & Hovdhaugen, 2011). However, the phenomenon has been seldom investigated within the Norwegian context. Considering significant national differences in educational systems (e.g., student fees, structure of higher education), comparison of attrition rates and mechanisms that explain such tendencies is complicated (Thomas & Hovdhaugen, 2014). This facilitates the investigation of culture-specific research on the factors that might have a causal impact on students’ attrition. In the current study, we focus on under-investigated potential predictor of students’ attrition – attrition intentions. 

Attrition is a multifaceted phenomenon (e.g., permanent withdrawal, changing university, taking a break from studies) and research shows that different mechanisms lead to either permanent withdrawal or change of university (Hovdhaugen, 2009). The current study will investigate if students’ intentions show the same pattern of relationships. Based on psychological and social attrition theories (Aljohani, 2016; Bean & Eaton, 2001), we expect that contextual factors would be more strongly related to transfer-out intentions or intentions to change university/study field (e.g., peer support, satisfaction with university or study program, commitment, and engagement). In contrast, achievement- and performance-related factors (e.g., performance, academic study skills, academic self-efficacy, time-to-degree, and achievement motivation) would be more significant determinants of drop-out intentions or intentions to withdraw permanently.


Aamodt, P. O., & Hovdhaugen, E. (2011). Frafall og gjennomføring i lavere grads studier før og etter Kvalitetsreformen : en sammenlikning mellom begynnerkullene fra 1999, 2003 og 2005. Oslo: NIFU.

Aljohani, O. (2016). A Comprehensive Review of the Major Studies and Theoretical Models of Student Retention in Higher Education. Higher Education Studies6(2), 1–18.

Bean, J., & Eaton, S. B. (2001). The Psychology Underlying Successful Retention Practices. Journal of College Student Retention3(1), 73–89.

Thomas, L., & Hovdhaugen, E. (2014). Complexities and Challenges of Researching Student Completion and Non-Completion of HE Programmes in Europe: A Comparative Analysis between England and Norway. European Journal of Education49(4), 457–470.

Hovdhaugen, E. (2009). Transfer and dropout: different forms of student departure in Norway. Studies in Higher Education, 34(1), 1–17.

Linda Johansen

Linda Johansen, master student.


Supervisor: Dr. Gabriella Óturai  
Co-supervisor: Prof. Dr. Sonja Perren

Social competence is an important resilience factor against mental health problems and is associated with children’s social understanding (Theory of Mind). As the prevalence of mental health problems among children is increasing, the question of how to promote the development of social competence is gaining more and more importance. In the present project, we aim to foster children’s social competence through a training program rooted in media education. Children between 3-5 years will be recruited through local kindergartens, and will be assigned to either an intervention group or a control group. Children in the intervention group will participate in weekly intervention sessions for three weeks, consisting of viewing a short clip from a cartoon, followed by a semi-structured discussion with focus on the characters’ mental states. Pre- and post-tests will include measures of ToM (standard false belief and emotion recognition tests) and social competence (empathic orientation and prosocial behaviour questionnaires), as well as a background questionnaire on general demographic and developmental data and on children’s media use. The main hypothesis of the study is that after the training program children in the intervention group will be more successful in standard ToM tasks and exhibit more advanced social skills than children in the baseline control group. The training program will be carried out in selected kindergartens, and the resulting material will be freely available for potential users such as parents and kindergartens teachers. 

Vendela Husberg

Vendela Husberg, master student.


Supervisors: Kamilla Rognmo (Main supervisor), Jan Rosenvinge, Oddgeir Friborg, Laila Hopstock and Svein Bergvik (Co-supervisors). 

Insomnia is the most prevalent sleep disorder among adults, estimated to affect up to one third of the adult population. Insomnia is common in those with problematic drinking, however the prevalence rates varies between 18-80%. The main reason for the variability is methodological differences in the existing studies, and lack of good psychometric measures. This suggest a need for a more exact prevalence and risk estimation, from a large representative sample, using measures with sound psychometric properties.

The aim of this study is to identify the risk and reliable prevalence rates of insomnia in individuals with an alcohol use disorder, as measured and the Alcohol use identification test (AUDIT). 

The present study will analyze data from the Tromsø Study, a Norwegian longitudinal study, that to date has seven cohorts. The current study will use data from the 7th cohort, which contains 21 083 adult participants from the general population. 

The present study may have translational impact, by identifying a reliable prevalence rate of insomnia in individuals with a probable alcohol use disorder- it may increase healthcare professionals awareness regarding early detection and treatment of both the sleep-wake and the alcohol use disorder. 

Martin Jensen Mækelæ

Martin Jensen Mækelæ, profession student.


Supervisor: Gerit Pfuhl

Co-supervisor: Morten Øvervoll 

“Human rational behavior is shaped by a scissors whose two blades are the structure of task environments and the computational capabilities of the actor”. Research into decision-making and rationality often rely on a dual-process framework, which separate human thinking into two separate systems. System 1 or intuitive thinking consists of a set of autonomous systems that are automatic, fast, parallel, unconscious and effortless. System 2 or deliberate reasoning is slow, serial conscious and require effort. Since deliberate reasoning is costly, relying on intuitive processes to save mental effort is a universal phenomenon in humans. Accordingly, there is a trade-off between intuitive and deliberate reasoning. Relying on intuition is in many cases sufficient and adaptive, but can also lead to irrational decisions. Despite decades of research, we do not know how the brain regulates the two systems. A candidate mechanism is the Locus Coeruleus (LC) and the norepinephrine (NE) system (LC-NE). Norepinephrine has traditionally been linked to the sleep-wake cycle, affective states, and arousal. Importantly, LC neural activity functions in two modes: phasic and tonic. Phasic firing of LC is characterized by bursts of high LC activity and moderate baseline activity. This pattern of firing is observed in relation to task relevant events and to the outcome of task-related decision processes, and is usually predictive of high on-task performance and low distractibility. Tonic LC firing is characterized by higher baseline activity, but absence of phasic bursts. It is usually predictive of degraded on-task performance and higher distractibility, but optimize performance across tasks. The tonic and phasic mode can be measured with pupillometry, as pupil dilation is a proxy for LC activity. Pupil dilation have previously been used as a measure of cognitive effort, where pupil dilation increase is indicative of increasing cognitive load or cognitive effort. This project aims to assess if pupil dilation, within the framework of LC tonic- and phasic activity, can predict system 1 and system 2 engagement. This study should provide new insight into the mechanisms involved in dual-process decision-making.

Ansvarlig for siden: Julie Utler Gjengedal
Sist oppdatert: 10.09.2019 15:13