Use of the Virtual Ventilator, a Screen-Based Computer Simulation, to Teach the Principles of Mechanical Ventilation

Document Type


Publication Date



Examination scores from 109 students enrolled in the professional veterinary program at Washington State University were evaluated to determine the effectiveness and utility of the Virtual Ventilator computer simulation for teaching the principles of mechanical ventilation in an anesthesia course. Students were randomly assigned to either a live-animal mechanical ventilation laboratory (LIVE-1st) or a computer laboratory using the mechanical ventilation simulation (SIM-1st) in week 1. During week 2, students in the LIVE-1st group participated in the ventilation simulation while students in the SIM-1st group participated in the live-animal laboratory. Student knowledge was evaluated using two similar written quizzes administered following each laboratory. Student opinions concerning the value of the simulation were assessed using an online survey. Differences in quiz scores within and between groups were compared using t-tests while survey results were tabulated. A p value of less than 0.05 was considered significant. Within the LIVE-1st group, scores for the second quiz, which was taken after the students had completed the simulation exercise, were significantly higher than those obtained from the first quiz. Accordingly, the Virtual Ventilator simulation was at least equivalent to the live-animal laboratory in the ability to present information that was subsequently tested for on the quizzes. Students in the SIM-1st group reported that use of the simulation prior to a live-animal ventilation laboratory enhanced their understanding of and ability to provide mechanical ventilation to anesthetized patients. The Virtual Ventilator simulation appears to be a useful and well-received teaching tool.


Tom Henderson is the Director of Testing and Assessment at Central Washington University.

This article was originally published in Journal of Veterinary Medical Education. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


Journal of Veterinary Medical Education