How to organize and execute role-playing activities

  • Identify the learning objectives: It is essential for the instructor to have a clearly defined lesson plan in which role-play is used to address the learning outcomes. What is your learning goal? What will you target with this role-playing activity? What topics will be covered? What do you expect your students to learn and/or be able to do by the end of the activity? Will the students be involved in research and/or presentations as part of the requirements for their participation in the role-playing activity?
  • Decide on the context of the activity and the roles of the students: Where and how will the role-playing activity take place? How much time will be allotted for the preparation of the students, the execution or the role-playing activity, and the discussion/reflection session? What are the roles of the participating students? What materials and resources are necessary, and will they be provided to the students (background information on the issue, historical and any other data, maps, graphs, etc.)?
  • Provide the necessary information to the students: Learning objectives that will be covered; information on their roles; guidelines for participation; expectations in terms of time; amount of work; degree of engagement; directions on how to research the topic, and how to do the interpretation of any data, as part of their preparation for the roles.
  • Time to prepare: Student-led research and time for students to understand the perspective of their roles and how they will contribute to the collective understanding of the learning objectives.
  • Role-Play activity: This could be in the form of a paper, a letter, a presentation, or an interactive component with other players.
  • Reflection and discussion: Allow time for players’ and observers’ perspectives to emerge and debrief on the activity. This can be in the form of written reflective assignment, a conclusion section at the end of the assignment, or an in-class discussion.