A VR Client Simulation to Prepare MSW Social Work Students for Practicum: A Feasibility Study

Nicholas Lanzieri, Elizabeth McAlpin, Kenta Asakura

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


In this feasibility study of virtual reality (VR)-based learning, we surveyed Master of Social Work students (n = 54) to examine student perceptions of a VR client simulation (VRCS) as a preparatory tool to work with real clients. The pre-post survey examined changes in students’ perceived anxiety, stress, excitement, competency, confidence and frustration to communicate and interact with a client. We also measured changes in students’ perceived interest toward working with older adults (70+) years. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests showed statistically significant decreases in participants perceived anxiety, stress, and frustration, and statistically significant increases in participants perceived competency, confidence, and excitement to interact with a future live client as part of their practicum placement requirements. There was a statistically significant increase in participants’ perceptions that practicing with a VRCS will transfer effectively to interacting with a real live client in the future. Results also showed statistically significant increases in participant’s perceived interest to work with older adults. Outcomes suggest a VRCS may complement other learning activities in a curricular program especially at the start as an experiential strategy to prepare students for practicum.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages28
Specialist publicationJournal of Technology in Human Services
StatePublished - Jul 31 2023


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