Role play has many different variations and forms, but one of its most common uses is within the educational process. It is a very popular form of learning among education professionals; the majority of them (including me) consider it as a very effective method, due to its dynamic and characteristic. The thing that I find problematic with other forms of learning is that they usually have an influence and engage only cognitive domain of an individual. However, when it comes to the role play, it includes other domains as well – behavioral and emotional. My personal opinion is that there is no real learning unless all of these domains are engaged, as this is the only way that a learner can really “fell” and experience the content he is leaning.
Role Play Characteristics
I consider the process of the role play to be a very simple one. First, the group selects a particular theme or a situation that is going to be demonstrated, and after that, a professor gives a particular role to every member of the group. Although there is usually a focus on a few members that are the main protagonists, all of the participants should be active during this process. Every member of a group has his scenario; however, I should mention that these scenarios are not like the ones in the theater, a very precise and detailed, but rather just superficial. This way, the dynamic of a group is unpredictable to some point, and that is precisely why it feels almost like a real situation. Every character has just a main thesis of his role (how he should act, superficial description of the behavior) and he should follow the group dynamic in order to adapt. This kind of learning is as close to a real situation as can be, so it is often extremely valuable lesson.
I had a lot of experience with this form of learning, and I found out that its main advantage is the fact that everyone that is engaged in it has a lot of benefits. The ones that are the main protagonist have a chance to apply their knowledge and to test their skills in a real situation, and also, to see how the other characters will react. However, the others are also learning through this process, just by watching and experiencing this situation. It is a phenomenon known as the vicarious learning, explained and postulated by famous psychologist Bandura.
The particular activity and situation are usually repeated a couple of times; after each attempt, the group gathers around and share their opinions and feedbacks. I should mention that all of the comments should be as specific as possible; so, if one says:”You were not very good”, it doesn’t really mean anything, as he didn’t point out a specific behavior. On the other hand, a comment like: “You were ok, but you should just speak a little louder” is an appropriate one.
In the text bellow, I will mention a couple of situations that can be used within the role play.
My experience is that this is a very efficient way to elaborate different historical lessons. It is not the same thing to just read how the masters treated their subordinates or how women were treated in particular societies, as to actually experience that relationship. Besides this, every participant will probably study his role in details, in order to enable the role play to take place. This way, everyone will have fun and learn lessons without any boredom, and, of course, this is the best way to permanently learn any content.
Professor – Student
One of the techniques that I commonly use is to switch the roles with students (I become the student, and the student becomes a professor), and his role is to explain a particular lesson. It is amazing how effective this is, as the students are really dedicated just because of the fact that they are going to be the professor for a while. Besides that, the best way to learn something is by trying to explain it to someone else.
Of course, practical skills such as providing medical assistance (for example, first aid) cannot be learned without the practical use. While providing assistance, the student will be monitored by the professor who will point out to his mistakes and advice him how to properly treat the patient. This way, one will learn the proper ways and techniques, and thus will learn how to deal with possible difficulties (the patient refuses help, the other people interference, etc…)
In this short text, I elaborated the main characteristics and postulates of the role play, and also mentioned a few possible uses. The important thing to remember that its use is much wider (public talks, psychotherapy, etc…). All in all, this is a very efficient form of learning and thus should be used whenever possible.
Kira Carr is wedded to her job as a freelance writer and blogger at homeworkhelpdesk. She creates many amazing posts regarding helpful techniques & strategies for college students. This girl is a translator by education. She goes mad of reading American modern literature.