Role-play is a structured experience in which learners get an opportunity to act out problems concerning human relations and human interactions before a group of co-learners and facilitators. Role play is a conscious attempt to examine the various roles played in actual life.
Features of role play are activating, energizing, involving and absorbing activity and it provides opportunities for developing new insights and sensitivity by looking into oneself as well as others points of view, feelings, behaviours and experiences. It generates valuable data about human relationships and interactions and exposes learners to the dynamics of a situation.
Role Play provides opportunities to bring out hidden attitudes and unexpressed feelings before the group for review, thus facilitating a process of checking one’s perceptions and attitudes without fear of rejection. this facilitates practice of new behaviours leading to internalisation of learning. It helps establish casuality – understanding stimulus-response situations-why certain behaviours provoke certain responses, etc. It helps in identifying problems both at individual and group levels and analysing them. It serves an evaluation function by facilitating individual and group change through feedback from others and through self-assessment. Forms of Role Play include simple role-play, multiple role-play and socio-drama.
Advantages of Role play are a simple and low-cost method. Focuses right on the problem and helps learners deal with it. Throws considerable light on crucial issues within a short period of time. It provides low risk opportunities to individuals to experiment with new behaviours and open oneself up- with support and understanding in the group.
Role play exposes an individual to various points of view as well as diverse reactions to a particular situation, which may not be possible in reality. It does not require much material or much advance preparation.
Disadvantages of Role Play are if the learners are not involved fully, learning can be hampered and the session serves mostly an entertainment value. Participants can get intensely involved in their roles and may not be able to look at themselves and the dynamics from a distance. Role-playing can become an end in itself-roles can be exaggerated, distorted or underplayed. this tends to reduce its potential for learning. During the reflection after role-play, much attention needs to be paid to highlight dynamics and issues on which it was based. if enough care is not exercised, reflection can be curtailed or distorted, thereby undermining learning from it.
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