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International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship

Editor-in-Chief: Andrusyszyn, Mary-Anne

Ed. by Maltby, Hendrika J. / Babenko-Mould, Yolanda / Booth, Richard Garnet

CiteScore 2018: 1.31

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.574
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.847

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Effectiveness of a Poverty Simulation in Second Life®: Changing Nursing Student Attitudes toward Poor People

Nancy Menzel
  • Corresponding author
  • School of Nursing, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89154-3018, USA
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/ Laura Helen Willson / Jessica Doolen
Published Online: 2014-03-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijnes-2013-0076


Social justice is a fundamental value of the nursing profession, challenging educators to instill this professional value when caring for the poor. This randomized controlled trial examined whether an interactive virtual poverty simulation created in Second Life® would improve nursing students’ empathy with and attributions for people living in poverty, compared to a self-study module. We created a multi-user virtual environment populated with families and individual avatars that represented the demographics contributing to poverty and vulnerability. Participants (N = 51 baccalaureate nursing students) were randomly assigned to either Intervention or Control groups and completed the modified Attitudes toward Poverty Scale pre- and post-intervention. The 2.5-hour simulation was delivered three times over a 1-year period to students in successive community health nursing classes. The investigators conducted post-simulation debriefings following a script. While participants in the virtual poverty simulation developed significantly more favorable attitudes on five questions than the Control group, the total scores did not differ significantly. Whereas students readily learned how to navigate inside Second Life®, faculty facilitators required periodic coaching and guidance to be competent. While poverty simulations, whether virtual or face-to-face, have some ability to transform nursing student attitudes, faculty must incorporate social justice concepts throughout the curriculum to produce lasting change.

Keywords: Second Life®; virtual simulation; poverty; on-line teaching; social justice; nursing students


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About the article

Published Online: 2014-03-11

Published in Print: 2014-01-01

Citation Information: International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, Volume 11, Issue 1, Pages 39–45, ISSN (Online) 1548-923X, ISSN (Print) 2194-5772, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijnes-2013-0076.

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