Role-plays can be used in many educational settings as a means of engaging students actively with an issue or debate. Students are presented with a scenario and asked to act out situations in the controlled environment of the classroom. Role-plays are useful for looking at behaviour and relationships. Role-plays:
Motivate students to learn as they are actively engaged
Promote and develop critical and creative thinking, attitudes, values, and interpersonal and social skills.
Provide opportunities for students to see both sides of a debate
Give students insight into unfamiliar roles in different and varied situations
Allow students to discuss issues or topics which they might ordinarily feel uncomfortable discussing
Enable quieter students to participate and express themselves in a more outspoken and direct way
Determine if a set number of students will volunteer to demonstrate the role-play, or if the entire group will participate, perhaps in smaller groups
Decide whether to use a scripted role-play, or if students will be asked to create their own dialogue
Ensure role-play is culturally appropriate
Start with easy situations as some students are not familiar with role-plays and may be self-conscious
Outline the scenario, which may be representative of a real life situation
Define the problem/scenario and roles clearly
Write out notes on cards for distribution in cases where more detailed role descriptions are required
Agree ground rules
Encourage active listening
Observe how the students perform
Decide if or when it is necessary to intervene
Ensure there is plenty of time for discussion after the role-play
Discuss in groups, or as a class, the outcomes of the role-play, the issues presented and how they were managed
Ask the group to develop strategies for managing similar situations, by building on what they have observed and experienced
Ensure students are not pushed into a situation which causes upset or embarrassment
Suggestions for reflection
How do you draw on your students' experiences in class?
What is the role of the tutor when introducing exercises/activities such as role-play or problem based learning?
If you introduce role-play in class, how to you manage the activity?
What problems could be developed into PBL exercises for your subject area?