Educational Philosophy, Concepts, Methods, and Skills in Teaching 15 Ask students to reverse roles. Having the players reverse roles helps to bring out the feelings and perceptions of the players either before or after discussion of the original role-play. The class can be divided into sections with specific assignments, which then involves all the students in the exercise. Assignments might include observations of nonverbal behaviors or assessments of underly- ing motivations, preconceptions, and assumptions. Ask the role players to comment on their experience. Having the role players comment first on their own behavior is useful, as this invites them to be self-evaluative and frees the audience to provide honest, direct feedback. The discussion can then be directed to what students observed, what helped and what didn’t, what was the dynamic impact of what was said, and why specific role players reacted as they did. Encourage discussion. The teacher encourages exchanges among students, occasionally raising a question for the student audience or the actors themselves to consider. The discussion should not only analyze what went on, but also identify principles and relate them to course concepts. The students should be encouraged to assume increasing responsibility for the discussion, while teachers can provide their own insights and summarize it. Contrast role-play to an actual situation. The role-play should be contrasted with an actual case whenever possible. Students assigned the roles of individ- ual, family, or group clients can be asked to respond in certain ways based upon the actual scenario. After a discussion, the teacher describes the actual case excerpt, inviting comparative analysis and practice generalizations. Consider alternative ways to use role-plays that may be less threatening to students. Role-playing can be threatening to students, which undermines their ability to learn. Role players may be more concerned with doing the “right” thing than enacting the role that they have been assigned. Students’ learning also may be compromised by observers’ unwillingness to criticize their peers. A potentially less threatening way to involve students in role-play is to assign them collectively to specific roles. One segment of the class can enact the role of worker, while another takes on the role of clients. The instructor encourages each group to think about and tune into their roles and invites individual students to contribute while in their respective roles. For example, students in the worker group may be asked to clarify their role and purpose and address underlying ambivalence if the role- play reflects a first interview with a mandated client. Students might begin by saying, “I think the worker would . . .,” but the instructor would need to inter- rupt and remind them that they are the worker, so they need to put into words how they personally would introduce themselves and acknowledge their client’s ambivalence. One student might start the introduction, and the instructor can encourage others in the worker group to build upon one another’s contributions.
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