DEVELOPING STUDENTS’ COMMUNICATION SKILLS THROUGH VIRTUAL ROLE PLAY ACTIVITIES

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Date

2019-04-23

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Authors

Wilson, Christine

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East Carolina University

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Employers have reported difficulty in finding employees who possess the skills needed to be successful. Surprisingly, the skills to which employers are referring are not the technical skills one would assume; instead, the skills being sought are interpersonal skills such as communication, critical thinking, professionalism, and decision-making. Students are entering careers with undergraduate and graduate degrees that provided them with the knowledge required for their chosen fields but without the interpersonal skills necessary to be successful. Higher education is finally acknowledging that their role in a student's future must go beyond preparing their students solely with theoretical information and instead provide the knowledge and skills to prepare graduates for their future careers. By incorporating active learning, such as virtual role play within programs like Mursion[registered], students experience real-life situations to learn and practice situations they will encounter once they enter the workforce. Mursion[registered] is an immersive simulation tool that includes avatars with whom students can interact in a variety of situations and environments. In this study, Mursion[registered] provided opportunities for students to practice interpersonal skills in realistic situations they are likely to face in real life. The study examined students who used the tool as part of course curriculum, and those who did not to find if context was relevant. It also looked at the role repeated practice and feedback play in the student perceived outcomes. This study was designed to investigate the effect virtual role play activities had on developing students' communication skills through the use of Mursion[registered]. The results of the study indicated that after interacting with Mursion students perceived benefit in their communication skills and reported they felt more confident going into similar situations.The qualitative results showed that multiple interactions were beneficial but were the most beneficial when coupled with coaching and/or feedback. Eighty-four percent reported some level of satisfaction with their experience, and over two-thirds would elect to use Mursion[registered] on their own time to practice.

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