Exploring nursing students' decision-making skills whilst in a Second Life clinical simulation laboratory

Nurse Educ Today. 2011 Oct;31(7):699-704. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2010.03.010. Epub 2010 Aug 31.


Aim: To explore nursing students' decision-making skills through the use of a 3D virtual environment such as Second Life.

Method: An exploratory qualitative evaluation of the students' experience of learning decision-making skills whilst in a Second Life clinical simulation laboratory. A convenience sample of five third year student nurses entered a simulated world environment where they cared for six patients over 1h. The written communication text from the Second Life scenario was saved into a Microsoft Word document. Additionally a semi-structured tape-recorded one to one interview was conducted immediately after the Second Life simulation in order to explore the students' decision-making skills.

Results: The communication text illustrated that the majority of decisions (n=21) were made in response to a situation or a patient request, therefore 'reactive' rather than proactive (n=9). Only one student carried out a vital signs assessment on a newly admitted patient (Willie). The interviews produced two themes, performing decision-making and improving learning. The absence of 'visual cues' such as pre-operative checklists, vital sign observation charts and 'Nil by Mouth' signs may offer a rationale for why students were more reactive.

Conclusion: Further work is required for students to practice decision-making skills. With further development the innovative 3D virtual worlds such as Second Life could provide this experience.

MeSH terms

  • Computer-Assisted Instruction
  • Decision Making*
  • Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate / methods*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Evaluation Research*
  • Patient Simulation*
  • User-Computer Interface