An evaluation of virtual reality role-play experiences for helping-profession courses
Background: Providing students with virtual role-play experiences has the potential to bring counselling role-plays into large undergraduate courses.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to trial a virtual reality role-play experience where students played the role of a student counsellor.
Method: Seventy-three undergraduate psychology students played the role of a student counsellor interacting with a virtual client in two role-plays, one via desktop and one via head mounted display (HMD). Students provided feedback on their experience.
Results: 70% of the students found the experiences very interesting, engaging and immersive, with 82% preferring the HMD mode of presentation. The virtual characters were believable as distressed clients with 96% of students perceiving greater negative than positive emotion expressed by the characters. Most of the students (64%) mood improved from the beginning of the experience to the end, however 14% experienced a decline in mood. The students agreed (95%) that the experiences would be a valuable experience to a psychology course.
Conclusion: Our results provide evidence that the virtual role-play experiences are well-liked by students.
Teaching Implications: The approach presented in this paper represents a practical method to provide virtual role-play experiences to both on-campus and online undergraduate students.