Monday, May 25, 2015

Dr. Leah Olson-McBride on Role-Playing

Role-playing exercises offer a unique way of learning material: they require a high amount of imagination and communicating skills that are useful in any discipline. Dr. Leah Olson-McBride, Department of Social Work, shares how she uses Role-Playing exercises in her class:

One thing I’ve started doing in my Groups and Families class—a class where we teach the students how to be social workers with groups and family units—is a fishbowl activity, where students will actually role-play and act out a scenario. In the middle of the class, after teaching specific techniques regarding the upcoming scenario, I put up a case study on the screen and pull some students from the class to live out the situation. One person will play the social worker, other students will be the family, etc. After the performance, the class will give feedback on what the social worker did well, and what they could improve upon. Students seem to be really anxious about participating, but always give good feedback on it. A common response I’ll get is: “I was really nervous being chosen, but I’m really glad I got to do it.” If it’s really hard content, sometimes I’ll have them show me the worst way to do it first: it takes the pressure off performing perfectly, and, of course, the students think it’s really funny.

Role-playing can actually be applied to nearly every discipline: view creative examples and types of role-playing exercises at Carleton’s teaching website here

Interview by: Jon Pumper

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