Students’ engagement and learning experiences using virtual patient simulation in a computer supported collaborative learning environment

Arinola Adefila, Joanne Opie, Steven Ball, Patricia Bluteau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environments could be innovative teaching resources, providing a social space for students to engage in transformative learning. However, poor design and structure mean CSCL do not readily support skill acquisition. This study examined student engagement and learning experiences using a virtual patient designed in a CSCL. Particular attention was paid to the social interactions taking place in the space intended to enhance the communication skills of healthcare students. The findings suggested that CSCL provides a safe platform for skill acquisition by deliberately designing purposive learning tasks to take place through collective interaction. However, students found the social learning process challenging and were not always able to articulate what they were learning. The study showed that students do not have the tools to engage pedagogically with others in virtual spaces, which have specific implications for design, facilitation and assessment in CSCLs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-61
Number of pages12
JournalInnovations in Education and Teaching International
Issue number1
Early online date10 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

A. Adefila

A. Adefila PhD currently works at the Research Centre for Global Learning: Education and Attainmnet (GLEA), Coventry University. She has developed and evaluated technology enhanced learning resources in Higher Education over the last 8 years, specifically resources for training health and social care students. Her research interests include social learning, transdiciplinary education, social justice and ethical pedagogies. Arinola is currently working on developing resources for students groups in HE who historically have poor attainmnet including, students with disabilities, ethinic minority students and commuter students. She is also exploring pedgaogies for transdiciplainary education and interdisciplinary learning using the capability approach.
J. Opie

J. Opie is a principal lecturer in physiotherapy in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Coventry University. She teaches at both undergraduate and postgraduate level across the health professions courses. Her research interests include supporting disabled students and humanistic skills, such as empathy and resilience, within healthcare.
S. Ball

S. Ball worked as a Senior Learning Technologist at the Centre for Excellence in Learning Enhancement (CELE) at Coventry University, England. Steven led the technical development of Hollie. Steven has a comprehensive background in multimedia and web development and over a decade of experience specialising in the area of eLearning and related technologies.

P. Bluteau

P. Bluteau is Interim Associate Dean Quality & Accreditation, Health & Life Sciences & Associate Head Quality & Accreditation, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health at Coventry University. Her background is in Mental Health Nursing (counselling and psychotherapy). She is committed to moving interprofessional education into sustainable practise-based learning.


This work was supported by the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University [The Faculty funded the development of the Virtual Patient]


  • Virtual patient
  • communication skills
  • computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL)
  • healthcare training/education
  • social learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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