Learning outcomes of speech audiometry virtual patient use for expert and novice audiology students
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Audiology
Rationale: Audiology student training in New Zealand faces many difficulties with a limited number of qualified instructors and suitable external placements. With a continued shortage of audiologists in New Zealand, new methods of training need to be introduced and implemented. One solution is through the use of realistic, computer-based virtual patient simulators (VPS). HIT Lab New Zealand in conjunction with the University of Canterbury has designed a VPS for New Zealand audiology students. A speech audiometry component is to be developed based on best practice recommendations, and needs to be validated.
Method: Two studies, one with 18 Master of Audiology (“expert”) and another with 18 (“novice”) undergraduate students, were evenly divided into simulator and non-simulator user groups. Simulator users had to complete 5 virtual patient cases in addition to the non-simulator users’ requirement to refer to provided lecture notes and speech audiometry protocols. Novice students were assessed on declarative, procedural and retained knowledge of speech audiometry; expert students were additionally assessed on training transfer. The intervention period was set at two weeks, and the retention assessment at four weeks post-intervention. Results: Expert students who used the simulator significantly improved their training transfer skills. No significant differences were found between and within groups for declarative knowledge and procedural knowledge. Training transfer and procedural knowledge were retained for both groups, but only non-simulator users retained declarative knowledge. Novice students who used the simulator significantly increased their declarative knowledge. Both groups’ procedural knowledge significantly regressed post-intervention. Declarative and procedural knowledge were retained for both groups.
Implications: Simulator use appears to accelerate learning outcomes otherwise achievable through traditional learning methods, and does depend on the users’ existing knowledge base. Regular use may be necessary to retain desired learning outcomes. Improvements (e.g., more detailed feedback systems) are to be incorporated into the simulator, and sole reliance on the simulator for learning is not recommended. Future research into more holistic aspects of virtual patient use within the field of audiology and allied health care is warranted.