Integrating immersive experiential learning with Positive Behaviour Support training

Mr Mark Di Marco1, Mrs Aoife McCann, Ms Natasha Drozdoff, Ms Jacinta Punaro

1Scope, Australia

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is an important technique for disability workers to support people with behaviours of concern. Training has usually occurred through traditional means (e.g. classroom discussion). However, virtual reality (VR) offers the prospect of developing interactive scenarios in which participants can practice applying PBS skills. This has the potential to make the training more relevant, engaging and available remotely. Scope and Swinburne University have collaborated to develop a new approach to teaching positive behaviour support using immersive technologies.

The development and evaluation of a new approach to VR-based PBS training. Five VR scenarios were developed and integrated into a purpose built PBS training program. The program consisted of approximately 30 hours of online learning and 6 tutorials over a 6 week period.

Six programs were delivered and evaluated using Kirkpatrick (1976) model of training evaluation. Eighty Direct Support Workers currently employed in supported independent living services were randomly assigned to either an intervention group or comparison group.

Initial results indicate positive response to the training at Kirkpatrick levels 1 & 2 via self-assessments (pre & post). The presentation will outline further details of the evaluation.

The training demonstrates evidence of improved learning transfer for participants in PBS skills to support someone with behaviours of concern. The training offers the opportunity to deliver PBS training remotely and provides an innovative approach for disability workers to develop PBS skills.


Mark is the Senior Practitioner at Scope Australia. Mark is a psychologist and researcher with over twenty years’ experience. Mark has co-authored peer reviewed journal papers, practice guidelines and resources, and presented at conferences nationally and internationally in the areas of mental health and disability, challenging behaviour and professional practice.