Dysphagia Virtual Patients

Dysphagia Virtual Patients


This work is an on-going project investigating the use of virtual patients as a learning tool for conducting medical interviews with patients who are having trouble swallowing, or dysphagia. Early in the project, Shiva collaborated with instructors who taught courses on dysphagia to incorporate virtual patient interviews and creation activities directly into the students’ assignments. This research contributed to Shiva’s dissertation on constructionism, or the act of creating virtual humans as a learning activity. Stevie has continued to use the dysphagia virtual patients in her dissertation research by exploring how interface changes to the virtual patient interview page may be used as scaffolding, or assistance provided to learners to help them complete a task.

VERG Researchers

Stevie Carnell, Shivashankar Halan (Alumnus)


speech-language pathologists at the University of Florida, University of Auckland, the University of Queensland, Kent University, and Pennsylvania State University

Target Audience

Speech-language pathology students

Technology Used

Virtual People Factory (C#, Javascript), Unity

Chat with our Dysphagia Virtual Patients

Conference and Journal Publications

  • Sia, I., Halan, S., Lok, B., and Crary, M. Virtual Patient Simulation Training in Graduate Dysphagia Management Education – A Research-Led Enhancement Targeting Development of Clinical Interviewing and Clinical Reasoning Skills. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, August 2016, Vol. 1 (SIG 13), 130-139. Doi: 10.1044/persp1.SIG13.130.
  • Carnell, S., Lok, B., James, M. T., & Su, J. K. (2019). Predicting Student Success in Communication Skills Learning Scenarios with Virtual Humans. In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge (pp. 436–440). New York, NY, USA: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/3303772.3303828.
  • Halan, S., Sia, I., Miles, A., Crary, M., and Lok, B. (2018) Engineering Social Agent Creation into an Opportunity for INterviewing and Interpersonal Skills Training. International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and MultiAgent Systems 2018, Stockholm, Sweden. 1675-1684.
  • Halan, S., Sia, I., Crary, M., & Lok, B. (2015, August). Exploring the Effects of Healthcare Students Creating Virtual Patients for Empathy Training. (short paper) In Intelligent Virtual Agents (pp. 239-249). Springer International Publishing.
  • Carnell, S., Halan, S., Crary, M., Madhavan, A., and Lok, B. “Adapting Virtual Patient Interviews for Interviewing Skills Training of Novice Healthcare Students.” In Intelligent Virtual Agents, pp. 50-59. Springer International Publishing, 2015.
  • Halan, S., Lok, B., Sia, I., & Crary, M. (2014, July). Virtual Agent Constructionism: Experiences from Health Professions Students Creating Virtual Conversational Agent Representations of Patients. In Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT), 2014 IEEE 14th International Conference on(pp. 249-253). IEEE.

Abstracts and Posters

  • Ward EC, Rumbach A., Hill AE, Nund, R, Goodman S., Carnell S., Halan S, Lok, B (2017). Using different Simulation Learning Activities for Clinical Skill Development in Dysphagia: What works? Oral Presentation, American Speech and Hearing Association, Los Angeles, USA, November 9-11.
  • Isaac Sia, Shivashankar Halan, Benjamin Lok, Michael Crary, “CYOVP: Create Your Own Virtual Patient (VP)!” VP Creation & Interviewing in Clinical Dysphagia Education. Seminar presentation at the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) Annual Convention, November 2014, Orlando, USA. Winner of Student Research Travel Award (SRTA) awarded to highest-rated convention papers
  • Sia I, Halan S, Lok B, Crary MA, Improving Clinical Dysphagia Interviewing Skills by Virtual Patient Creation. Dysphagia Research Society Annual Meeting (2014).
  • Halan, S., Rossen, B., Crary, M., and Lok, B. 2012. Constructionism of virtual humans to improve perceptions of conversational partners. In CHI ’12 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2387-2392.