Social Work Students’ Self-Efficacy Toward Direct Practice Skills in Field Education Using Virtual Simulations and Scripted Role Plays


  • Annie J. Keeney San Diego State University
  • Amanda Lee San Diego State University
  • Sarah Jayyousi California State University San Marcos
  • Jimmy A. Young California State University San Marcos
  • Jeannine Guarino California State University San Marcos
  • Katie B. Turner San Diego State University



self-efficacy, direct practice skills, Social work students, COVID-19, simulations, scripted peer role plays, virtual environments


Simulations with professional actors and scripted role plays with peers are effective methods to increase direct practice skills. However, little is known about how simulations or scripted role plays conducted virtually can influence social work students' practice self-efficacy. MSW students enrolled in field seminar courses across two universities were invited to participate in an exploratory, repeated measures assessment utilizing the Counselor Activity Self-Efficacy Scales (CASES). One university (n=100) implemented the use of standardized clients, played by professional actors within field seminar; the other university (n=61) implemented scripted, peer-led role plays. Significant differences were found in pre/post scores among MSW students that participated in simulated client experiences within their field seminar. Simulations and scripted peer role plays may need to be more integrated into social work curricula when opportunities for in-person direct practice skill development are limited due to hybrid or fully remote field placements. Applied learning in social work education must be re-envisioned so programs can prepare MSW students to be effective practitioners in today’s rapidly changing environment.

Author Biography

Katie B. Turner, San Diego State University

School of Theatre, Television, and Film

San Diego State University


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