Thursday, April 29, 2010

Green Team Summary of Findings: Role-playing (4 out of 5 stars)

Note: This post represents the synthesis of the thoughts, procedures and experiences of others as represented in the 16 articles read in advance (see previous posts) and the discussion among the students and instructor during the Advanced Analytic Techniques class at Mercyhurst College on 29 April 2010 regarding Role-playing specifically. This technique was evaluated based on its overall validity, simplicity, flexibility and its ability to effectively use unstructured data.


Role-play is used as a training method to acquire knowledge, attitudes, and skills in a range of disciplines and with learners of different ages. Role-play in particular is a type of simulation that focuses attention on the interaction of people with one another and emphasizes the functions performed by different people under various circumstances. Role-play can be fully scripted or partially scripted. Players can rotate through roles or new information can be added into the role-play.

Role-playing has been used and continues to be employed as a tool to facilitate training in vocational and interpersonal skills and as a method of active learning in educational and commercial settings. Though there is no single type of role-played exercise, the term is best applied where the teaching and learning experience rests with a form of `as-if’ experimentation. Role playing, is most often used in a classroom and requires physical involvement on the part of students.

  • Can identify critical issues in predeveloped plans
  • Enables active critical thinking to solve encountered problems
  • Can be tailored to fit a specific scale
  • Engages participants effectively
  • Allowed for development of critical skills in a controlled environment
  • Enables critical feedback from supervisor
  • Provides an engaging learning environment.
  • An opportunity for active learning in a safe, low-risk environment
  • Develop a range of transferable skills, qualities and competencies
  • Rapidly and effectively improve the communication skills of trainees
  • Participants have a better overview of problems and can foresee what possible solutions exist and why. Furthermore, participants become more involved in the training
  • Allows participants to experiment with various strategies without real consequences, allowing them to express their opinion freely
  • Enhances self-confidence of participants
  • The fictitious nature of the interaction reduces the psychological stress of a situation which allows shyer people to participate more fully than they might feel free to do in real life.
  • Gives students a better understanding of the decision-making process
  • Can be applied to various situations**
  • Good way to investigate the consequences of decisions or designs with little risk or cost
  • Captures cultural aspects well in designs and decisions
  • The activity simulates the emotions of an actual event which engages participants in the process.
  • Encourages creative solutions
  • Increases insight into another person's point of view
  • Analyzes problems from various perspectives
  • Implements brainstorming methodology in simulations of real cases
  • Develops team-work, co-operation and creative problem solving in groups
  • Effectiveness can be hampered by individuals not taking it seriously
  • The absence of training in role-play disciplines can lead to 'under-play,’ where the participant’s inability hinders role development, or to 'over-play,’ where the participant exaggerates or caricatures their part
  • Inability of some role-players to effectively participate due to anxiety or dislike of a given role
  • Participants may become apathetic to role play exercises over time
  • Puts individuals on the spot, which might lead participants to resist
  • Increased possibility of risk to personnel in some scenarios
  • Role play exercises are challenging to devise
  • May require a large amount of resources
  • Can be difficult to manage or facilitate
  • Emotionally and intellectually demanding
  • Does not allow for much detail in the information being studied or all of the variables involved
  • Lack of realism in roles, setting, or task
  • Cannot account for all real world issues
How To:
There are many ways in which to conduct a role-plaing exercise depending on the desired outcome. However, from the research several consistent trends emerge. They are as follows:
1.) Begin with a historical background and basic understanding of the concepts/topics at hand.
2)Make sure that the participants are committed to the process.
3.) Determine the teams/groups
4.) Define the roles of the members of the group
5.) Actively role play responding spontaneously
6.) Discuss results and give feedback
7.) If needed, repeat taking different courses of action

Personal Application:
Each member of the class was randomly assigned a role ranging from a four year old child to a 75 year old all with very different "roles" such a doctor, a professor, a mechanic, a zooligist, and an athlete. The context was that the group was on a sinking ship and a lifeboat was available with eight spots. However, there were twelve people so each person role-played to decide who should be saved and who should not. During the fifteen minutes of the exercise, each person particpated in deciding the fate of the members and of themselves by the role they were given.

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