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The effects of the use of a conversational model and opportunities for reflections in computer-based role playing

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This study examined the effects of an instructional program on 21-year-old students' interpersonal skills development (N = 104). The HyperCard 2.1 program ¿Telling bad news¿ could contain a conversational model that informed students about the main moments and actions in conducting a bad-news conversation. In addition, the program could vary the students' opportunities for reflection by slowing down the dialog. It was expected that the conversational-model-present groups and the high reflection groups would show more effective interpersonal skill acquisition, knowledge acquisition, and a more complete understanding of the skill (better tests results) than the conversational-model-absent groups and the low reflection groups. Both elements were found to affect the students' interpersonal skill development. The presence of a conversational model significantly improved the students' role-play, F(1, 94) = 8.79, p < .01, and their performance on the knowledge test, F(1, 94) = 115.28, p < .001. When also given opportunities for reflection, the students' performance in a roleplay and on the knowledge test improved even more, F(4, 91) = 2.69, p < .05. The instruction program with the presence of a conversational model in combination with opportunities for reflection is, therefore, considered as having the potential to assist in realizing effective gradual lead into interpersonal skills learning and instruction for novices.

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