A focus group exploration of using virtual reality to support the teaching of nursing undergraduates

Laura Park, Claire Ford, Andrew Melling

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Within higher education institutions the use of virtual reality and gaming technologies has increased, not only as a result of an overall reduction in costs but also the ease of equipment availability (Dubovi, Levy and Dagan, 2017). Consequently, the use of this innovative pedagogical modality is attracting increased interest due to research findings from outside the existing spheres of education and healthcare practice, which conclude that virtual reality has the potential to amplify educational worth (Saleeb & Dafoulas, 2011). However, while research is rich in the gaming and entertainment industries, there is currently limited evidence within the field of healthcare practice (Smith and Hamilton, 2015). Therefore, to increase the body of knowledge examining this innovative teaching strategy, VR videos have been created, piloted and evaluated, within an undergraduate nursing programme. This innovation aims to explore undergraduate nursing students’ perceptions of using virtual reality (VR) as an adjunct to simulation teaching. The current focus of the study is within adult nursing; however, the research team are hoping that this research can be expanded further to include all fields of nursing, midwifery and allied healthcare professional students. Following creation and ethical approval, the VR teaching session was piloted within a second-year undergraduate teaching seminar, which was delivered to more than 160 adult nursing students. Students were asked to watch the VR video and then discuss the content of the seminar’s learning aims. Purposeful sampling was used, and 17 2nd year undergraduate adult nursing students participated in one of 3 focus groups. Focus groups were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. The date was independently coded and emerging themes identified by each of the research team. These codes were then compared and agreed upon thus increasing the trustworthiness of the eventual findings. Four central themes emerged from the findings that would lead to increased levels of immersion. These have been incorporated into a multimodal pedagogical model, to assist healthcare academics when integrating virtual reality within their existing learning and teaching strategies. The model comprises of the following: • Elements needed to increase fidelity • The importance of session debrief • The realities of using virtual reality as a teaching pedagogy • Effective use of the learning environment Recommendations: For successful implementation of this novel teaching strategy, academics need to be cognisant of the four central themes that emerge from this data. Failure to consider all four aspects of the model may impact on the overall level of immersion.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 Mar 2018
EventNetworking For Education in Healthcare Conference 2018: NET Conference 2018 - Churchill College, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Sept 20186 Sept 2018


ConferenceNetworking For Education in Healthcare Conference 2018: NET Conference 2018
Abbreviated titleNET 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'A focus group exploration of using virtual reality to support the teaching of nursing undergraduates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this