Teaching with Role Play

Decorative: The word "Roleplay" in marquee lights


"Role Play" (web page; dead link but the information below remains useful) provides an overview of this teaching strategy, suggests application to courses, gives examples, and provides some tips for getting started:

1. Overview

  • "In role playing activities participants act as various characters or roles."
  • "Role playing activities encourage students to 'put themselves in another’s shoes' in order to act out a fictional scenario."

2. Application to All Courses 

a. Critical Thinking

  • "Develops empathy, new insights, and enlivens discussion."
  • "Conveys information to stimulate discussion and communication."
  • "Allows for a variety of situations and parameters such as model organizations, mock trials and legislatures, political discussions, human relationships, and foreign language scenarios."

b. Distance Education

  • "Allows adult learners to bring personal experience into role play activities."
  • "Asynchronous role playing activities allows for students to reflect and consider options while participating."
  • "Online role playing can be structured to provide students with a greater degree of anonymity thus encouraging participation from all students."

c. Participation

  • "Role playing activities garner attention, participation, and motivation from students."

3. Resources

a. "Tips for a Successful ... Roleplay" (6.36 m)

b. "How to Teach Using Role-Playing" (web page)

c. "Role Playing in Online Education: A Teaching Tool to Enhance Student Engagement and Sustained Learning" (pdf) 

d. "Role Engagement and Anonymity in Synchronous Online Role Play" (online article)

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