Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Remote participation in a hybrid classroom: Interacting with students with chronic illnesses

There are about 35,000 students with chronic illnesses in the Netherlands. If they cannot receive education in the classroom, they may be able to do so from home or a hospital with hybrid education. The question in this study is: how can interaction with the teacher and fellow students be promoted?

2021 - 2023
Ben Smit

Drs. A. Nahon, Bazalt Groep


  • prof.dr. N. Saab - project leader
  • dr. B.H.J. Smit - researcher/deputy project leader
  • drs. S. Klunder - researcher/PhD candidate
  • dr. K. Slegers, Zuyd Hogeschool
  • prof.dr. W.A. Admiraal, OsloMet
  • prof.dr. T.M. Mainhard, Universiteit Leiden, FSW

Problem statement

Students with chronic illnesses (students-CI) have little connection to school, schoolwork and their classrooms. Hybrid virtual education, combining education at school with online education, can provide a solution. However, teachers find it difficult to provide students with a good education at the same time physically and online. Using a multiple case study, the interaction, social engagement and motivation for school of students-CI, and the role of teachers in this, are identified. It also examines what technical systems must meet. Implications for hybrid virtual education also apply when non-chronically-ill students cannot or are not allowed to attend school.

Research on hybrid virtual education for students-CI is limited; however, it does show that in this form of secondary education, teachers must divide their attention between two "groups" of students and that teachers have particular difficulty in fostering interaction between the student-CI and the class (students as well as the teacher). Teachers have a complex task when it comes to maintaining social engagement between the students-CI and the class and stimulating the learning motivation of students-CI. In addition, we know that apart from the applied pedagogical/didactic strategies, technological design affects the effectiveness of hybrid virtual education.

It is still unclear how teachers can carry out this role in the special setting of hybrid virtual education and how they can facilitate interaction and thereby encourage the development of the remote student.

Research questions and research design

The above leads to four research questions, with the first three focusing on the role of the teacher and the fourth on the role of technology:

  1. How do secondary school teachers encourage interaction between student-CI and teacher, and between student-CI and other students?
  2. How do secondary school teachers increase students-CI's sense of social engagement in the classroom?
  3. How do secondary school teachers promote students-CI's learning motivation in the classroom?
  4. How can the design of hybrid virtual education systems promote student-CI interaction, social engagement and learning motivation?

Research questions 1-3 focus on the current educational situation of the student-CI and how the teacher encourages interaction in that situation. Research question 4 focuses more on a future educational situation in terms of possible improvements in the design of the deployed systems and in their use, based on the experiences of student-CI, teachers and care consultants. Therefore, the project was designed in two related sub-studies:

  1. Case studies of students-CI, to identify the promotion of interactions and social engagement (research questions 1-3);
  2. Codesign sessions, to evaluate current uses and functionalities of deployed online media and generate recommendations for modifications of them (research question 4).


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