The Individual Role-Playing Exercises address one of the six facets of understanding – perspective, which is the ability to have and demonstrate critical points of view, and to be able to see things from another person’s perspective. For example, students explore a historical event from the perspective of a historical figure, or they investigate an artifact from the perspective of different cultures or countries. The Individual Role-Playing Exercises can have different forms:
- Form of a story: In an environmental studies class, students tell the story of how a water molecule travels from ocean to land and back again to the ocean.
- Form of a letter: Your students are part of a scientific group organizing an expedition to space and must write a letter to Congressmen on the importance of funding such an expedition, by highlighting how data could be used to benefit humanity.
- Form of a problem statement: This could be used as a term paper for which students are asked to provide a description of the problem, alternative explanations of its causes and a plan of action.
- Form of political position paper: This brings evidence from various disciplines, such as social, economic and scientific research findings.
- Form of speech: Students may take the role or supporting or opposing climate and environmentalist concerns over oil drilling in Alberta.
- Form of research findings report: Students time-travel to Late Permian, explore and report findings on animal extinction during this Earth’s most severe known extinction era.
The Interactive Role-Playing Exercise may have the form of debates or problem-solving exercises. According to Maier (2002), depending on the goal targeted through role-play, such as knowledge, attitudes and skills, there are three variations:
- When the target is knowledge acquisition, role-play is used as a method to observe and analyze. What is important in this case is not much the role-play act itself, but rather the opportunity for students to acquire some observational skills and to understand and to assimilate the new information.
- When the goal of role-play is attitude development, the activity should be organized in a way that allows the learners to experience emotions. This type of role-playing engagement requires enough time for a follow-up discussion. The focus should be on the player’s affect experience and not on the observations made by the audience. Therefore, it is essential for the instructor to provide the opportunity for the participating students to identify, validate and discuss their emotions.
- Lastly, when role-play targets skills acquisition, it should be structured so that players are provided with opportunities to reflect and receive feedback. Students are expected to rely on past experiences, use their creativity and address the challenges of their roles. The instructor should provide immediate constructive feedback with suggestions for change which can be incorporated in the following role-play practice of skills by the student. This is a quick type practice and the student maybe be requested to perform the skill again.