Supporting Empathy Training Through Virtual Patients

Jennifer K. Olsen*, Catharine Oertel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


For the training of interpersonal skills, such as those required in the medical field, virtual agents can provide a safe environment for practice. However, many agent systems are not developed with the ability to understand non-verbal input. Being able to automatically parse such input is essential for the practice of interpersonal skills such as empathy. Currently, it is still an open question which prosodic or visual features would aid automatic classification of empathy and how this knowledge can be used to support the practice of these skills. As a first step towards this goal, we report on 42 second-year nursing students practicing their empathy skills with a virtual patient or through collaborative role playing. We found that across both the role playing and simulation, students assessed their empathy as increasing over time but as higher during the role playing. This work contributes to the continued development of virtual agents for the training of interpersonal skills.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArtificial Intelligence in Education - 21st International Conference, AIED 2020, Proceedings
EditorsIg Ibert Bittencourt, Mutlu Cukurova, Rose Luckin, Kasia Muldner, Eva Millán
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9783030522391
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event21st International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, AIED 2020 - Ifrane, Morocco
Duration: 6 Jul 202010 Jul 2020

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume12164 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference21st International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, AIED 2020


  • Interpersonal skills
  • Role playing
  • Virtual agents


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