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Envision Center app helps train future nurses

  • Science Highlights

A multi-disciplinary collaboration between the School of Nursing, the School of Industrial Engineering, the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and ITaP has developed new ways to improve training for nursing students.

Amy Nagle, clinical assistant professor of nursing, uses robotic mannequins in simulations that teach students how to respond to various patient scenarios. While the mannequins can relay an instructor’s verbal responses, they can’t convey facial expressions or non-verbal cues.

This was particularly an issue when it came to teaching students how to recognize strokes, which are characterized by facial drooping that may be subtle or dramatic. Telling a student that a mannequin’s face is drooping doesn’t have the same impact as allowing the student to observe the mannequin and reach that conclusion on their own.

Nagle was connected to ITaP’s Envision Center by Tera Hornbeck, a former nursing colleague, for help building a simulation that incorporated non-verbal communication. George Takahashi, the center’s technical director, and Drew Sumner, technical artist, developed a solution using projected augmented reality, which displays an image onto a real three-dimensional object and doesn’t require the user to have a headset or any other special technology.

“It was really positive for our students,” says Nagle. “They seemed to respond a little bit quicker than they had before.”

To quantify the success of the project, she collaborated with Denny Yu, assistant professor of industrial engineering, who used eye trackers to study how the new technology was impacting student engagement and performance.

The team concluded that the students who used the new technology performed better at recognizing and responding to strokes than the students who didn’t have access to it.

The project was funded by a grant from the Instructional Innovation Program sponsored by the Office of the Provost that encourages faculty to find creative ways of bringing technology into the classroom. The team also includes Ann Loomis, clinical assistant professor of nursing, Beth Smith, clinical assistant professor of nursing, Brad Duerstock, associate professor of engineering practice, and Guoyang Zhou, a graduate student working with Yu.

For more information about working with the Envision Center, contact

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