Role Playing Activities

Use role-playing activities to relate academic content to real- world scenarios by having students assume the role of key stakeholders in a lively online classroom experience. Transformational learning experiences are created as students investigate an issue through an activity-based opportunity where no outcome is pre-determined. Retire the passive learning of online lectures-past and let your students connect the classroom to everyday life by teaching through complex social issues with role-play.

Time Consideration

Project Design: Write measurable learning objectives for the activity you are creating. Working with an ID is worthwhile to help map objectives, learning outcomes, and assessment strategies.

Length: Time invested depends upon myriad factors, such as the length and complexity of an actual role- playing activity.

Alternatives: Pair students and provide a common issue to investigate, but have them approach finding an evidence- based solution from different perspectives. Then, students evaluate each other’s findings using a rubric.

Milestones: Continuous reflection opportunities with a series of clearly identified milestones will keep students on-target and enhance their learning.

Assessment: Create a grading rubric to assist with evaluation. For team-based projects, students should evaluate their group members.

Skills Utilized

  • Teamwork
  • Collaboration
  • Oral, written, and digital communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Research
  • Creativity

Target Skills

  • Evaluating information
  • Storytelling
  • Researching
  • Forming data-driven perspectives

Grading Criteria

  • Time Management
    • Completion of deliverables
    • Organization
  • Collaborative Skills
    • Participation
    • Team evaluations
  • Content
    • Written, oral, & digital literacy
    • Accuracy
    • Ability to connect course content to real-world scenarios
    • Research and evaluating data

Pros & Cons


  • Students must effectively collaborate to find solutions to issues that mirror everyday situations.
  • Many ways exist to integrate role-playing scenarios into a course design.


  • Challenging to grade role-play participation and assess knowledge gains during the event.
  • Requires students to be fully invested in the learning activity for it to function properly.


Role-playing creates activity-based learning environments where
students approach complex, real-life issues from different perspectives and collaborate to find evidence- driven solutions.


Introductory Environmental Science

Students mimicked a town hall-style meeting event where they provided recommendations to a “water management advisory board” about how freshwater supplies should be allocated to drought-stricken regions in and around the Florida Everglades. Students were given stakeholder roles (i.e. engineer, tourism operator, fisherman, environmentalist, sugar cane farmer, golf course manager, etc.). Before the online role-play event, students conducted research within their teams to form an opinion consistent with their needs and collaborated via online discussion boards. Each stakeholder-team stated their case to the advisory committee (also students), who then openly deliberated and reached a decision. As a deliverable, students submitted a formal typed response and explained how the board’s decision was consistent (or inconsistent) with the position they took as a stakeholder. Pre/Post attitude & knowledge surveys were given.