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How to Facilitate a Role Play

Handout (Draft) The objective of this session is to identify the important steps involved in facilitating a role play. Definition of a Role Play A role play is a simulation or demonstration method. A real-life situation is presented as a skit by 2 or more volunteer participants (or the facilitators) to the whole group. It allows participants to experience attitudes, actions, and communication with others. Why use Role Plays? Foster understanding of problems that might be encountered in the workplace Allow participants to experiment with various types of behavior in a safe setting, where mistakes can serve as a learning experience without the risks of real-life consequences. Participants can explore o Personal interactions and behaviors (good, bad, or controversial) Communication skills Decision-making skills Emotions Attitudes o Processes or procedures Role plays also appeal to different learning styles Role playing helps train participants in positive ways to interact with co-workers, patients, or other people they work with. These positive interrelationships are fundamental in helping them deal with the conflicts they might face and providing the appropriate support services. In addition, role plays can help increase the course participants awareness of their own behaviors and that of their co-workers. For example, through role plays, participants can identify and possibly overcome stigmatizing attitudes that they might have towards patients who have diseases such as HIV and/or TB. 4 Steps to Facilitate a Successful Role Play The following 4 simple steps will help you successfully facilitate a role play. 1. 2. 3. 4. Prepare, Introduce, Conduct, and Summarize the role play

Step 1: Prepare for the Role Play In training, it is very important to prepare ahead. Preparation can prevent many problems from occurring, relieve stress, and create a successful exercise. Review the role play to understand it Determine what the actors will do Determine what the observers (the other participants) will do How to Facilitate a Role Play Handout 1

o Observe certain behaviors o Observe a process or procedure o Complete a checklist o Answer specific questions about the role play Choose a location for the role play that allows all participants to see and hear the role play Collect all of the materials, equipment, and supplies Set up the room ahead of time (if possible) Practice describing the role play

Estimate realistic timeframes o Determine how much time it takes for each part of the role play. For example, you might estimate the time as follows: 10 minutes - Select and prepare actors 5 minutes - Introduce role play 10 minutes - Conduct role play 10 minutes Discussion and summarize the role play Select and prepare the actors o Ask for volunteers for the appropriate number of actors (sometimes the facilitators are the actors). Do not coerce anyone into playing a role that he or she might not be comfortable playing. It you think someone would be good in a role, that person if he or she would like to volunteer for the role rather than simply assigning it to him or her. Some people are not comfortable acting in front of others, or they may have personal situations that make a particular role too difficult to play. o Choose the actors ahead of time so they can prepare for their roles o Prepare the actors by discussing - The purpose of the role play and why it is important - The situation/scenario/problem - Each role and how each actor should act (the characteristics of each actor and how they should respond) - How much time the role play should take - The time signals you will use during the role play to let them know how much time is left - What the observers will do o Provide instructions, scripts, outlines, props, and other necessary items to the actors o Encourage the actors to let themselves feel and act like the characters o Emphasize that actors will need to speak loudly enough for everyone to hear o Provide an opportunity for the actors to practice ahead of time Step 2: Introduce the Role Play Provide VERY CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS Verbally Visually in a handout and on a flipchart, slide, or overhead transparency Describe the following Purpose of the role play and why it is important The situation/scenario How to Facilitate a Role Play Handout 2

time) Location of the role play How the role play will be reviewed Check for clarification, and repeat appropriate information as needed. Ask actors to speak loudly enough for everyone to hear.

The actors o Who the actors are and what their roles are o Explain that the actors represent roles that are not necessarily their own attitudes or situations What the tasks are for the other participants Time allowed for the role play (state both the number of minutes and clock

Step 3: Conduct the role play Facilitate the role play o Note whether the actors are raising issues that are appropriate to the main problem. If they arent, you can discuss important issues during the summary by saying, What if the actor had done such and such. o Watch to see if the participants stay engaged. If they are losing interest, look for an appropriate time to end the role play. o Keep the role play on time. End the role play o Stop the role play when - Time is up Actors have provided the feelings and ideas that are important for the role play - Participants (observers) become restless - The role play is not working o Give signals to actors to end the role play (visual or verbal) Debrief and de-role the actors o Thank the actors for their help and good work. o Explain that the actors represented roles that are not necessarily their own attitudes or situations o Always debrief the actors after the role play. Ask - How do you think the role play went? - How did it feel taking on the role? De-role (or relieve) the actors of their roles especially for role plays with strong emotional content. This might seem a bit awkward at first, but it is important for helping the participants who acted in role plays dealing with HIV, TB, or other lifethreatening diseases. It can be quite emotional for participants to pretend to be someone with these diseases or to represent a characteristic that is very different from who they are in real life. The de-roling helps to bring people back into reality after the role play. To de-role actors, ask several questions about themselves, such as o What is your name? o Where do you work? o What is your job How to Facilitate a Role Play Handout 3

The participants should also state that the roles they played did not represent who they are in real life. Manage problems If the role play doesnt go as planned - Discuss what went wrong (without embarrassing anyone) Make positive situations out of negative ones by turning the problem into a learning situation. Say something like I am very glad that happened. It is something that happens during role plays and it gives us the opportunity to talk about this. Step 4: Summarize the role play Discuss the role play o Ask observers - What they observed - What went well - What they learned from the role play - How they might apply what they learned to their jobs If observers were given a specific task, review it with them Clarify questions and concerns What Can Happen if You Dont Follow the Steps? If trainers dont prepare ahead, they might waste time searching for materials at the last minute. If the role play is not explained, participants might be unclear about what to expect. Also, things might not go as expected. Participants might think they should be doing something else, and the desired outcomes of the exercise might not be achieved.

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How to Develop a Role Play


1. Develop a scenario State the purpose of the role play State the problem Ensure that there is a realistic problem(s) or some type of conflict that is related to your training objectives. This should be a type of problem that the participants will encounter on the job or in the role play. This conflict is the focus of the role play, and the experience of resolving the conflict, or responding to it, is what the participants should gain from participating in or observing the role play. The role play should Be interesting to your participants Be suitable for acting Address some personal interactions and behaviors The behavior can be good, bad, or controversial. If you demonstrate the bad, it is important to also demonstrate the good. Communication skills Decision-making skills Emotions Attitudes Processes or procedures Briefly describe each actor and what he or she will be doing Describe what the observers will do 2. Determine the length of the role play Keep the role play brief. Between 5 and 10 minutes should be long enough to demonstrate what is needed. It is easy for actors to get very involved in the role play, and it can end up being longer than is necessary. Keep the role play focused on the intended purpose.
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Determine the number of actors needed and create a description of each role that will be acted out during the role play Keep it simple. Include only those actors that are actually needed to achieve the goal of the role play. Create a description of each role that provides enough information so that the actors will know exactly what to do. These descriptions should be shared with all of the actors. For each role describe Who the character is (i.e., clinician, a TB nurse, a female/male patient, government official) What characteristics does he/she have that are important for the role play (i.e., has a lot of authority, is very experienced on the job, is new to the job, is married, is pregnant, is HIV infected or uninfected, has 4 children) Why is this role essential to the role play?

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What is the actors attitude, and how does he or she respond to and interact with the other actors? (i.e., understanding, not sympathetic, domineering, angry, compliant, difficult to deal with)

Sample Descriptions of Actors Margaret, TB Nurse has 20 years experience working in the TB clinic. Her supervisor, the TB physician, informs her that she is going to have to provide HIV counseling and testing to TB patients. She is very resistant to this because she is already overwhelmed with duties and knows these added services will just add more work to her busy schedule. Plus, she is not comfortable about talking about HIV, let alone providing an HIV rapid test to patients. She thinks that patients should be sent to the HIV clinic for these services. After discussing these concerns with her supervisor and learning that she can gain the needed skills through training, she becomes more comfortable with the added responsibility. Dr. Wambua, TB Physician has 10 years experience working in the TB clinic. He is informing the TB nurse, whom he supervises, that she needs to begin providing HIV counseling and testing to TB patients. Because she is resistant to these added services, he needs to convince her that this is an extremely important service and that she plays a valuable role in helping their patients get quality care. He mentions that she can attend a district training course to gain the skills for this new service and overcome her fears. In addition, he discusses ways to work the added services into her schedule.
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Describe how the role play will be conducted (informal, formal, or a demonstration)
o

Informal. The actors are given a situation and asked to act out the roles with little or no preparation time. The role play is not prepared ahead of time but rather is a response to some type of situation or issue that has been discussed in class. For example, if participants are not sure how a counselor should respond to the client regarding TB/HIV, the trainer may ask for volunteers to act in a brief role play which addresses the situation. Formal. The actors are given instructions for the role play that include Purpose Scenario Problem Description of the actors and what they are to do Script or outline (if needed) Time allotted The participants are given a scenario with specific roles they are to act out. They are given time to prepare for the role play. Sometimes they are given a script. Demonstration. This is similar to the formal role play. Usually the participants are learning a skill. For example, the trainer demonstrates the steps for correctly putting a condom on a penis model. Also demonstrations can be used to teach participants the right and wrong way to conduct counseling sessions with patients. First the facilitators demonstrate how to conduct a counseling session. Then How to Facilitate a Role Play Handout 6

participants divide into groups of 3. Within each group one participant plays the health care worker, one plays the patient, and one is the observer. The observer uses a checklist to determine if the health care worker covers all of the information accurately and provides the desired attitudes and behaviors. At the end of the role play, the observer asks the health care worker and client how the role play went. The observer provides comments based on his or her observations and gives the checklist to the health care worker. Then they switch roles (within their small group of three) and conduct the role play again. They do this a total of three times so that each participant has the opportunity to play the health care worker, the patient, and the observer. 5. Write a script or an outline (if necessary) Some role plays require a script or an outline for the actors to use as a guide. This can be helpful when there are specific messages to be given and in a particular order. For example, if the role play illustrates how a nurse completes a clinic register in the antenatal clinic, she would need to ask certain questions in a certain order, and the patient might need to provide specific answers. A script or outline could help guide their questions and answers.
6.

Determine what the observers (other participants not acting in the role play) will do, and develop any necessary instructional materials (i.e., quiz, checklists) It is important for the other participants who will be observing the role play to have a task that will enable them to respond to the role play. This will give them a purpose other than watching people act out some parts. It also helps them stay engaged and apply the information they gained from the role play. In addition, some tasks that the observers can perform include Participate in a discussion Some questions to ask include o What did they discover by doing this activity? o How is the scenario related to what they already know? o How can the information help them in their daily life and jobs? o What are some behavioral alternatives that could have been useful in a similar real-life situation? o If a certain actor had responded in a different way, what do they think would have happened? o What went well, what could have been done differently? o How do their feelings and reactions compare with those of the person acting out a specific character in the role play? Complete a quiz o The answers to the quiz should be discussed at the end. Complete a checklist This is valuable if the actors are following a step-by-step procedure or they are observing a process such as a counseling session o How participants completed the checklist should be discussed at the end

7. Collect all the props and objects you will need for the role play How to Facilitate a Role Play Handout 7

Props are the items that are used in the role play (i.e., a desk, chairs, register book, pencil, test kit, brochures). Props and objects make the role play more realistic. 8. Create an instruction sheet for the role play The instructions should be shared with trainers and with the actors so they know what to expect. The instructions should include all the following items (which are described in steps 1 7). Scenario The scenario will be shared with the observers, as well as the trainers and actors. Include the Purpose of the role play What the problem is A brief description of the actors What tasks the observers will perform The time frame. Detailed description of how the role play will be conducted (informal, formal, or demonstration) Detailed description of the actors Script or outline (if needed) Props needed

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