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The day of my PhD Thesis defence

PhD defence

On the 4th September 2020, it took place the long-awaited moment: I defended my PhD thesis:

The Multimodal Tutor - Adaptive Feedback from Multimodal Experiences. Finally, after a long journey lasted 4 years I was awarded the title of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Amidst the Corona restrictions, I was able to defend the thesis in presence in front of my promotion team and audience of 20 guests. The assessment committee composed of five distinguished scholars was instead connected online. I am happy and relieved that the defence could take place almost as it should. Having seen many colleagues going through this process for me was *the most important* milestone to reach after having conducted my PhD research.

The way the PhD defence is conducted in The Netherlands is very ceremonial as it derives from the antique times. The promotion is the first most important event in the academic career of every past scholar since the middle age. In my Promotion Tree, I have traced back the history of my research of more than 200 years.

In the The Netherlands the defence lasts exactly one hour. In my case from 13:30 till 14:30. In the first 15 minutes, I presented my work to the audience. In the remaining 45 minutes the assessment committee, composed of 5 distinguished scholars asked me multiple questions concerning my research work. I enjoyed a lot the discussion, I felt much more comfortable compared to the initial presentation.

There are a number of formalities in the discussion, for example, the components have to be addressed with "highly learned opponent". Also other aspects are characteristics, such as the beadle who is responsible for escorting the committee and the commission in and out of the room and taking the time. Or the paranymphs who are two witnesses of the PhD defence that stand typically on the side of the presented (not this time unfortunately because of Corona). Or the laudatio which is the speech of congratulations that the promoter typically make for the candidate to congratulate on the successful defence. Finally, together with the PhD Thesis, the candidate prepares the propositions which are a set of sentences that can be read during the defence to stimulate the discussion.

I am really happy of having been able to defend my PhD thesis as the defence was a memorable moment that I will remember forever.

The PhD defence was also live-streamed on the website of my university, the video recording can be found below.

Photogallery on Flickr

PhD defence

Full video of the defence

Presentation slides

The PhD presentation is available on SlideShare


PhD Thesis E-book

Can be downloaded at this link

Published by Daniele Di Mitri

Daniele Di Mitri is a research group leader at the DIPF - Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education and a lecturer at the Goethe University of Frankfurt, Germany. Daniele received his PhD entitled "The Multimodal Tutor" at the Open University of The Netherlands (2020) in Learning Analytics and wearable sensor support. His research focuses on collecting and analysing multimodal data during physical interactions for automatic feedback and human behaviour analysis. Daniele's current research focuses on designing responsible Artificial Intelligence applications for education and human support. He is a "Johanna Quandt Young Academy" fellow and was elected "AI Newcomer 2021" at the KI Camp by the German Informatics Society. He is a member of the editorial board of Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence journal, a member of the CrossMMLA, a special interest group of the Society of Learning Analytics Research, and chair of the Learning Analytics Hackathon (LAKathon) series.

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