Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Computer Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Larry F. Hodges

Committee Member

Dr. Sabarish Babu

Committee Member

Dr. Donald House

Committee Member

Dr. Timothy Davis


Baccalaureate nursing students have few opportunities to practice patient interaction be-fore they reach their clinical experiences. Traditional practice opportunities include roleplay and interviews with paid actors (called standardized patients). Unfortunately, neither of these methods realistically simulates many of the patient interactions that nurses will encounter on a daily basis.

Virtual patients are computer simulations that behave in the same way that an actual patient would in a medical context. Since these characters are simulated, they can provide realistic yet repetitive practice in patient interaction since they can represent a wide range of patients and each scenario can be practiced until the student achieves competency. However, the development costs for virtual patients are high, since creation of a single scenario may take up to nine months.

In this work, we present a virtual patient platform that reduces development costs. The SIDNIE (Scaffolded Interviews Developed by Nurses in Education) system can adapt a single scenario to multiple levels of learners and supports the selection of multiple learning goals. We have shown that SIDNIE is effective for learning [Dukes et al., 2013]. We designed and evaluated a scenario-builder tool that enables nursing faculty to create their own scenarios for SIDNIE, without the aid of a computer scientist. Additionally, we showed that scenarios created using this system could be effective for teaching nursing students verbal communication skills by conducting a user study with freshman nursing students.



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