Thursday, April 29, 2010

Summary of Findings (White Team): 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.

Description:
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.

The methodology is a recognized and successful tool in behavioral assessment, which encourages the application of the technique. In crisis negotiation role playing, which was done in today's exercise, participants used communication skills and reasoning to resolve crisis situations. Results from Role Playing are qualitative results that allow a detailed view of the particular scenario and possible outcomes. The White Team recognizes this technique as a 'method' as opposed to a 'modifier'.

Strengths:
  • Allows for development of ideas and thoughts in a controlled environment.
  • Provides an opportunity for active learning in a safe, low-risk environment.
  • Allows for the application to multiple different types of situations or persons.
  • Can be easily conducted as a low cost exercise.
  • Simulates the emotions of an actual event which engages participants in the process.
Weaknesses:
  • Participants may not take the exercise seriously.
  • Participants may act as a caricature of the person they area assigned, rather than respond as the person.
  • Participants may have a use different decision-making processes due to their social upbringing.
  • A false confidence in their understanding of the role they are playing may result in participant overconfidence in their predictive ability of the person's action.
  • The situation in which the participants are placed may be missing critical elements of reality present in emergency situations.
How To:
  • Begin with a historical background and basic understanding of the topics / issues that is the subject of the role play
  • Discuss the problem to be portrayed
  • Determine the teams/groups
  • Define the roles of the members of the group
  • Make sure that the participants are committed to the process.
  • Act out the situation, responding spontaneously.
  • Evaluate the actions of each player.
  • Repeat, taking different courses of action if needed.
  • Discuss results and feedback
Application:
Students were presented with a scenario where there was a sinking ship and only 10 people could fit on the life boat. Each student picked a role to play out of a hat and introduced themselves to the group. After all the roles were announced each made their case as to why they should stay on the boat. Some participants voluntarily requested to remain on the sinking ship where others pleaded their individual cases to secure a spot on the life boat. Through this discussion it allowed different conceptual models to emerge that influenced the way decisions were made. We also came to the understanding that in order to role play it is important that all participants take their part seriously as it influences the outcome of the exercise. It is also important to note that value assumptions,mirror imaging and cultural biases are likely to manifest and it is vital to the success of the exercise to mitigate those factors.

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