Advantages & Disadvantages of Role Play in the Classroom

Role play in the classroom is a form of instruction in which you have students take the part of someone else so that they can understand a situation from a different perspective than they normally would. However, it is not a perfect form of instruction, as it has both advantages and disadvantages to its use.

Introduces Problems Dramatically

Using role playing in the classroom can help teach children in the class about certain situations in a relatable and dramatic fashion. This will cause the children to better remember the situations, making role playing a good teaching method for new hypothetical theories. It allows the students to play the roles of certain characters in these situations so they are able to see things from a new perspective. Empathy for others in their class may increase when children are given an opportunity to look at a situation from another's person's vantage point. Through role-play, they may better understand why people often strongly disagree on a particular topic when their personal values, beliefs and social or cultural backgrounds differ.

Opportunity to Practice Skills

In a role playing situation, students get the opportunity to practice skills they might not use on a regular basis. Skills such as debating, reasoning and negotiating can be flexed in hypothetical situations when they cannot normally be used in a classic school situation. Students are also able to adapt to situations they might not normally find themselves in, forcing the creativity of the students to be exerted. Role playing also teaches interpersonal and verbal communication skills, and helps children overcome shyness.

Embarrassment and Discomfort

Role playing situations might not flesh out quite like you hope because some students are embarrassed and thus tentative about acting out a part in a dramatic fashion. This will cause a role playing situation to be awkward and unproductive because one or more students will not be able to participate. When a student feels self-conscious, he will be more likely to be worried about what others will think of him, rather than how the situation can be solved. Children may also have a problem with the activity if they cannot fathom how their character might think or behave.

Disorganization and Inattention

In larger classes, role playing cannot be done effectively because not all of the students have the option to participate. Many role playing scenarios use only two or three individuals in a situation, so the rest of the students just have to watch. This will cause them to become disinterested and stop paying attention. If you try to make the situation incorporate more students, the role playing might become a chaotic mess with everyone talking at the same time. Children sometimes act silly when they feel uncomfortable, which can trigger other inappropriate behaviors such as teasing and snickering. Role plays work best when the teacher first explains the purpose and outlines ground rules so children don't mistake the lesson for an acting exercise and get carried away.