This research product comes by way of the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China. The purpose of the study was to evaluate a program that was designed to test the effectiveness of a role-playing based teaching method for undergrad medical students going into medical genetics fields. The study used 2326 med students who already had a background in medicine from previous years of instruction. As stated, this study was an attempt to evaluate how well role-playing worked in these students’ practice of, in particular, genetic counseling. To do this, the students were tested on 42 medical genetics components such as mitosis, dominance, traits, and diseases before the start of the test to establish a baseline.
The program consisted of studying the theoretical knowledge of medical genetics, then preparing the case scenarios, and playing out the roles in the classrooms. The testing portion made use of a tiered system of new lectures, clinical doctors, and expert teachers to integrate the role-playing methodology. From there, the students devoted as much as 80% of class time to researching the conditions of their illness they were tasked to understand. These lead to strong results. In fact, during the actual exercise, the students adapted their rolls to portray characters with lower education levels to prompt the doctors to explain their conditions in simplified terms, which required a greater understanding of the condition itself and work on professional communication skills.
At the conclusion of the experiment, the students were re-tested in the 42 key fields and the results were compared to the pretests. The results showed increases to the students’ knowledge of genetic medicine. The researcher attributed the increase in subject mastery directly to the exercises. The researchers acknowledge that the study had some limits. First, the student body at the facility was far too great for everyone to have a proper chance as a patient and as a doctor. Also, feedback was limited slightly due to the aforementioned size. In addition, there were several variables such as religion and tradition, insurance, and other interpretations the researchers did not take into account. Ultimately, the purpose of the program was to look at altering how the topic of medicine is taught to students.
First, it is very interesting to read such a study from an Eastern medical body. The study followed a logical progression of start, test, and end (logical at least for the layperson). The findings were expected. The reason I went with this study was due to it being far removed from the extensive Western body of knowledge on the topic of role-playing’s effects on professional abilities. Even so, they found that role-playing did aid in participants ability to become more effective in their field. While not explicitly translating to forecasting accuracy, it does carry other connotations. Primarily, role-playing helped the students to understand the counseling process better and make them better counselors due to not only seeing things from the doctor’s view, but from the patient’s view as well. This provided greater insight into the process that, through testing, showed a greater mastery of the course. The metrics surrounding the results however are not quite as strong as they could be. If there were a way to make the study more robust, it would possible be via a longitudinal study of how the students go on to assist the medical field. Nevertheless, for the time being, the narrative is encouraging.
It may be a leap, but it’s a fairly easy leap to say that role-playing could indeed make any professional a better professional. What constitutes a better professional is certainly left to the field in question. However, for the intelligence analyst, being able to have a deeper and richer understanding of a situation or the actors therein would offer them a chance to shake cognitive biases and offer a better forecast of likely events.
Xu, X., Wang, Y., Wang, Y., Song, M., Xiao, W., & Bai, Y. (2016). Role-playing is an effective instructional strategy for genetic counseling training: an investigation and comparative study. BMC Medical Education, 16, 235. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-016-0756-4