In recent years, the tectonic shift in our modes of education and teaching methodologies have played their part in setting up the tone for the education field in days to come. Modern Classrooms are completely unrecognizable from classrooms we used to have a few years ago. Especially since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the shutting down of schools and college campuses, locking millions of students and teachers, out of the classroom, across the entire nation, online classes apps have become a popular substitute for traditional offline classrooms. Online classes provide flexibility in teaching and learning and setting up an online classroom today, is way simpler than going through the hassles of offline teaching and can be done in just a couple of minutes using a good teacher app. Another useful teaching practice today is the use of role-playing in pedagogy. Role Play is a teaching technique that can be used in a wide variety of scenarios. It involves students taking on specific roles in some context- roles usually which a student is unfamiliar with- and act them out in a scenario set up for helping students learn effectively or understand particularly intuitive and complex concepts better. Roleplay in pedagogy has been a well-researched topic since as far back as the 1960s; however recent research touts role-play as a teaching practice better suited to teach the modern-day students than traditional teaching methodologies. Using role-play often compels students to engage more critically with the subject matter and involves real-life scenarios which can lead to controversial, psychologically demanding, or complex situations leading to a more intimate understanding of the subject. Compared to games and simulations which include structured and planned learning activities and can be time taking, role play teaching practices consist of short, unprompted activities which provide room for improvisation. Some of the many benefits which role play provides are discussed below…
Increases Student Engagement and Motivation
Student engagement is key when it comes to teaching. Roleplay activities are interesting and fun for the students which invariably leads to better engagement with the class. As role-play exploits real-world scenarios to make students learn effectively, students develop a better understanding and engagement with the world around them. Thus, role play in pedagogy increases motivation in students and their engagement with the study material.
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Group-Based Activity that Promotes Peer Learning-
Role Play activities allow students to work closely with their peers and allows them to critically observe each other. Group-based learning activities such as role-play tremendously help the students in learning effectively as peers are aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses at a personal level. Enacting a scenario helps to engage all the students in learning simultaneously and promotes coordination and the spirit of teamwork. Therefore, role play saves time without compromising on the quality of student learning.
Encourages Students to Learn Real-World Skills-
The use of role-playing helps students in learning real-world skills like tactics for negotiation, critical thinking, teamwork, thinking on your feet, cooperation, in short, skills that are critical for achieving success in the modern-day world. Moreover, it teaches students to express themselves better, how to defend their views, and participate in debates. Therefore, apart from teaching course content, role play is also effective in teaching students the skills which are vital for their success in the modern workforce.
Leads to Improvisation and Generation of New Ideas-
Roleplay is a spontaneous activity that encourages students to come up with new ideas and thinking on their feet. It compels them to improvise when things don’t go their way. In this way, role-play helps students in developing creativity and imagination. Learning to improvise also bolsters the confidence of students in their abilities to tackle new challenges in other walks of their life.
It is quite evident that role play is an effective teaching practice that can contribute tremendously to your teaching efforts. Moreover, role-playing can be used as a graded or a non-graded exercise. If you plan to use it as in the former way, you should begin by introducing simple, non-graded role-play exercises early on in your class to prepare the students for the larger and complex roles for which their performance shall be evaluated.