Role Playing in a Large Enrollment Course

Role playing is known to be an effective way to incorporate active learning into the classroom. It engages students, puts course content into context, and can be a meaningful way to explore ideas. However, using role playing in large lecture courses is not always an easily executed strategy.

Take my latest situation for example. I was prepping my lecture on Gram staining in microbiology and came across an excellent scenario where two students were trying to figure out where a Gram stain went wrong. There was back-and-forth dialogue, and presented an opportunity to get students to take on these roles and talk through the situation.

With 140 students in my course, I contemplated on how to do this learning strategy effectively, and ended up developing 3 short videos that presented the scenario.

Then between each video clip, we paused and discussed possible outcomes. After the final clip we talked about why Kyle's Gram stain did not turn out correctly and then practiced interpreting a variety of Gram stains. It was beautiful.

Role playing can take many forms. Don't be afraid to try something new!


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