Role play can be seen as an interactive and experiential learning approach, which involves elements of, play, a game and simulation. In terms of chemistry teaching in higher education, role play can offer students opportunities to practice and simulate processes that are involved in decision making in a company, a debate or a conferences etc.. Role play has the advantage that learning is always strongly related to a context. In role play exercises a student, or small group of students, may be called on to act as another person (e.g. a safety officer, a method developer or a marketing manager), or a group or organization (e.g. Green Peace, an energy producer or a multinational company looking to establish a new manufacturing plant in a third world country). In general role play exercises will involve conflict between the various roles. It is not necessary for a specific decision to be reached at the end of the exercise; learning is promoted by formulating positions and approaches and countering arguments from opponents. Conflict leading to consensus is invariably accompanied by significant learning.
While carrying out role playing exercises students are encouraged to create their own reality. In the course of developing their roles students find it necessary to consult their lecture notes and to discuss relevant issues with their peers. Thus, role play can promote and develop peer-group interactions; the process helps students to build their self-confidence both with respect to the subject that they are learning and also toward communicating and working with their peers. Shy or reserved students will therefore be to become more active, and lecturers are likely to be able to identify any misconceptions that exist for the given topic. Because students are not presenting their own opinions about the subject or representing their own personalities, they tend to feel freer and more motivated to contribute in the seminars and debates.
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