Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Media, Art, and Text

First Advisor

Marcel Cornis-Pope, PhD

Second Advisor

David J. Coogan, PhD

Third Advisor

Yan Jin, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Sarah K. Price, PhD

Fifth Advisor

Semi Ryu, MFA


In this dissertation I propose the use of a new media composition of narrative hypertext, performances in a virtual world, and a dialogic process of writing to provide a continuum of learning opportunities in social work education. I suggest that the structure of the hypertext narrative, embedded with hypermedia, mirrors the dissociative aspects of traumatic memory. I argue that work with the multivocality and multisequentiality of narrative hypertext emulates the process of discovery in the clinical interview. The immersive component of work in a virtual world deepens the realism and affective impact of simulations and creates opportunities to practice and demonstrate engagement, assessment, and intervention skills. The writing component of the new media composition actively engages students in a dialogic process that hones the development of self-reflexive practice and a professional social work identity.

In developing the project, I enlisted the input of two groups of key informants. Content experts provided background that informed the narrative and scripts. A second group of faculty, students, and practitioners provided input on project design and identified potential barriers to success and anticipated outcomes. Informants suggest that the continuum of media engages students with a variety of learning styles, offers safe ways to practice skills as a precursor to interviews with actual clients, and allows for exploration of diverse identities as an avatar. Potential barriers include the time and resources required to learn new technologies and the potential for students to be triggered by trauma content. Informants offered recommendations to address the barriers. Three changes were immediately incorporated into the structure and content of the project to address these concerns.


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