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.
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.
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 role||Function of role|
|Devil’s Advocate||Take an opposing position of a classmate and justify it|
|Elaborator||Expand or provide support for an idea someone else has already made|
|Importer||Bring outside ideas, from other classes or the news, into the discussion|
|Inventor||Generate new ideas and perspectives that have yet to be brought up|
|Mini-Me||Represent the author’s position (from an assigned reading) on the discussion topic|
|Moderator/Questioner||Monitor the discussion, ask questions and probe others to elaborate on ideas|
|Starter||Begin the discussion, add new points that could be built upon, raise most important issues|
|Source Searcher||Seek external information pertaining to the discussion|
|Summarizer/Wrapper||Post interim summarizes during the discussion and a final synopsis at the end; identify areas of dissonance and harmony and draw conclusions|
|Synthesizer||Make connections between posts and push the conversation forward|
|Theoretician||Introduce theoretical information to the discussion|
|Traffic Director||Keep the discussion moving and intervene when discussion gets off track|