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The role play approach encourages students to examine a topic or problem from different perspectives. There are a few approaches for designing a role play discussion prompt.

Discipline-specific roles

One approach entails asking students to portray discipline-specific roles (e.g., financial manager, lawyer, social worker, policy maker) to increase the level of discipline-specific knowledge and promote communication, teamwork, and decision-making skills.

Generic roles

Another entails asking students to portray generic roles (e.g., devil’s advocate, summarizer, synthesizer) to improve the overall quality of the discussion.  Below are examples of and responsibilities associated with a range of generic roles:

Student roleFunction of role
Devil’s AdvocateTake an opposing position of a classmate and justify it
ElaboratorExpand or provide support for an idea someone else has already made
ImporterBring outside ideas, from other classes or the news, into the discussion
InventorGenerate new ideas and perspectives that have yet to be brought up
Mini-MeRepresent the author’s position (from an assigned reading) on the discussion topic
Moderator/QuestionerMonitor the discussion, ask questions and probe others to elaborate on ideas
StarterBegin the discussion, add new points that could be built upon, raise most important issues
Source SearcherSeek external information pertaining to the discussion
Summarizer/WrapperPost interim summarizes during the discussion and a final synopsis at the end; identify areas of dissonance and harmony and draw conclusions
SynthesizerMake connections between posts and push the conversation forward
TheoreticianIntroduce theoretical information to the discussion
Traffic DirectorKeep the discussion moving and intervene when discussion gets off track

Posted by Martin King

Senior Learning Technologist; MOOC Producer; Moodle, Turnitin, Grademark, Peermark, Panopto, Turning Technologies expert.

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