- Role-play: Participants feel like, think like, and/or act like another individual and “act out” a particular problem or situation.
- Simulation: Participants react to a specific problem within a structured environment, for example a moot court or legislative hearing.
Although these two approaches have different qualities, they are complementary and share the following purposes of
- Furthering the development of imagination and critical thinking skills
- Promoting the expression of attitudes, opinions, and values
- Fostering participant ability to develop and consider alternative courses of action
- Developing empathy for others
- Initial activities should be simple and become increasingly complex if role-playing is to be more than a dramatic exercise.
- Do not expect polished performances initially. Give participants several opportunities to role-play and to simulate historical and contemporary situations. Vary the type of activity.
- There are four essential components to these two strategies:
- Preliminary planning and preparation by the teacher
- Preparation and training of the participants
- Active class involvement in conducting the activity
- Careful discussion and reflection about the activity
- Because participants may be uncomfortable or embarrassed, these activities should be presented in a relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere, and the participants should realize there may be more than one way to react. Practice will help participants feel more confident in these activities.
- There should be extensive debriefing and in‑depth analysis of the experience by the teacher and by the participants.
tips for role-playing
- Give participants adequate information to play roles convincingly. This preparation will make it easier for the participants to enjoy the exercise as they learn.
- Make situations and problems realistic.
- Allow participants to “jump right in.” Don’t spend time on long introductions.
- Allow participants to do a role‑reversal to look at opposing viewpoints and prevent stereotyping participants.
- Consider the following questions during the debriefing:
- Was the problem solved? Why or why not? How was it solved?
- What alternative courses of action were available?
- Is this situation similar to anything that you have experienced?