Role play is a simulation technique that involves learners acting out events or scenarios designed to closely replicate real practice settings. It can be used to help nursing students integrate theory into practice. This is because role-play scenarios closely imitate real clinical scenarios which require students to apply effectively the theoretical knowledge garnered in school. Role playing can be also be used to facilitate active participation of students in their own learning and problem-based learning, equip students with practical and decision making skills, and to foster critical thinking and team work amongst students. This is because it provides targeted experiential learning and practice in settings that closely reflect real practice settings and that allow the students to make mistakes without causing any harm to patients. Role play situations, like real hospital settings require students to work in teams. Role play is useful in helping students integrate theory and practice in controlled settings (Galloway, 2009).
Role play as an instructional method is best for kinesthetic learners. This category of learners learns best by doing, manipulating things, and experiencing first hand. Role plays, therefore, provide them with hands on experience.
Advantages of role play include, it facilitates and enhances critical thinking, thinking from different perspectives, decision making, as well as integration of theory into practice in a risk free environment. It also enhances the motivation, self confidence, and clinical performance of students. Role play also encourages students to play a more active role in their own learning and improves their communication skills (Ertmer et al., 2010). Disadvantages of use of role play as an instructional method, on the other hand, include, it may cause embarrassment and significant discomfort to students who are self conscious. Such students may be unable to effectively perform their assigned roles. This may impair the effectiveness of the role play. Additionally, since only a few students are allowed to participate at any time, other students, particularly in large classes, tend to become disinterested and easily lose attention.
Ertmer, P. A., Strobel, J., Cheng, X., Chen, X., Kim, H., Olesova, L., Sadaf, A., and Tomory, A.
(2010). Expressions of critical thinking in role-playing simulations: Comparisons across
roles. J Comput High Educ. Retrieved from
http://www. edci. purdue. edu/ertmer/docs/Ertmer_JCHE. pdf
Galloway, S., 2009. Simulation techniques to bridge the gap between novice and competent
healthcare professionals. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 14(2). Retrieved from