E-CIR "Measuring ans supporting students' social participation: Innovating the field with behavioral date"


In the present decade, inclusive education has gained significant attention, both in the general public and in the scientific community. While academic achievements of students in inclusive learning settings are promising, social participation of students with special educational needs (SEN) - inside and outside of the classroom - has become a more problematic issue. Finding ways to support students’ social participation is, therefore, a core challenge for inclusive education.

Current research on social participation is mainly based on self-report measures about a person’s quantity of friends or about the overall quality of an individual’s interactions with significant others. Both of these measures result in easily communicable but highly aggregated and subjective data which give only little information about the actual social contacts among students with and without SEN. Therefore, basic behavioral data of social interactions such as face-to-face contacts, tracking data, and log files are needed to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying social participation.

The E-CIR aims at closing this research gap by focusing on the development of innovative technologies that allow to precisely measure the length, duration and quality of social contacts in every day’s school live. This, in turn, will lay ground for empirically testing assumptions articulated in social participation theories, such as the contact hypotheses, and for developing means to foster social participation.

The goal of our E-CIR is to answer three main questions:

1. Under which circumstances do different behavior-based measures of students’ social participation lead to reliable and valid empirical data?

2. To what extent can these measurement instruments assess both social structure and social participation processes in inclusive settings?

3. To what extent can behavior-based technologies measure the effects of classroom-based interventions aimed at fostering social participation of students?

All together, the E-CIR will not only lead to a better understanding of antecedents and consequences of social participation in heterogeneous learning groups but will also lead to concrete practical outcomes.

Participating researchers:

Nadine Spörer (University of Potsdam, Germany), Alexander Minnaert (University of Groningen, The Netherlands), Carmen Zurbriggen (University of Bielefeld, Germany), Christian Huber (University of Wuppertal, Germany), Christoph Stadtfeld (ETH Zürich, Switzerland), Julia Eberle (Ruhr University Bochum, Germany), Anke de Boer (University of Groningen, The Netherlands), Katja Petry (KULeuven, Belgium), Thorsten Henke (University of Potsdam, Germany)


The 2018 E-CIR Group (2018, September). Conception of the E-CIR “Measuring and supporting students’ social participation”. Presentation at the EARLI SIG 15 conference, Potsdam (Germany).