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Role Plays and the Learning Process

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Role Plays and the Learning Process


Learning events in Guardian Financial Services traditionally involve a range of various training methods that include some or all of the following: workshops, video, presentations, flipcharts, workbooks, quizzes or overhead projectors.  Research suggests that role plays have a part to play as a learning tool whilst I have tended to hold the personal view that role plays prove daunting for learners and have consequently never used this method.  However, the purpose of the research is to explore the use of role-plays within the training environment and consider their viability and effectiveness and whether these can add value for learners to the whole experience.

This document sets out the steps involved in the process of conducting the research into role-plays.

The Process

Blaxter et al (1997) identified 2 different methods for designing and doing a research project, their ‘research families’ (P58) of qualitative and quantitative methods.  Cohen and Mannion (1998) go a stage further and view qualitative research as a search for understanding in which ‘…the principal concern is with …the way in which the individual creates, modifies and interprets the world in which he or she finds himself or herself.’ (P8)  Researchers who adopted this qualitative approach, responsive to individual perceptions, were felt by Bell (1993)

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Despite the use of apparently straightforward data collection techniques, interview, questionnaire and observation, there are strengths and weaknesses with each and issues to be considered.  Cohen and Mannion (1998) describe the research interview as ‘an unusual method in that it involves the gathering of data through direct verbal interaction between individuals.’  Whilst McKernan (2000) holds that the research interview ‘…is one of the most effective modes of gathering data in any inquiry…’ (P128) and its structured or semi-structured format ‘…allows for greater depth than is the case with other methods of data collection.’ (Cohen and Mannion, 1998:P272), there are potential difficulties.  Cohen and Mannion argue that a disadvantage ‘…is that it is prone to subjectivity and bias on the part of the interviewer.’ (P272)  As the main purpose of the interviews is to gather the personal thoughts and views of colleagues I intend to use a semi-structured interview which has the added bonus, as Bryman (1998) puts it, of being able ‘…to check the validity of information from other methods.’ (P150)  An extra consideration with an interview is the effect of bias largely because, as Sellitz et al (1962) puts it, ‘…interviewers are human beings and not machines.’ (P583).

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Anderson G. (1990), Fundamentals of Educational Research, London: The Falmer Press

Bell J. (1993), Doing Your Research Project, Buckingham: Open University Press

Blaxter L., Hughes C. & Tight M. (1997), How to Research, Buckingham: Open University Press

Bryman A. (1989), Research Methods and Organization Studies, London: Routledge

Burgess R. (1993), Research Methods, Walton-On-Thames: Nelson

Cohen L. & Mannion L. (1998), Research Methods in Education, London: Routledge

De Vaus D. A. (1996), Surveys in Social Research, London: UCL Press Limited

Elliott J. & Adelman C. (1976), Innovation at the Classroom Level: A Case Study of the Ford Teaching Project.  Unit 28, Open University Course E203:  Curriculum Design and Development, Milton Keynes: Open University Educational Enterprises

Gabel D. (1995), An Introduction to Action Research,


Harlen W. (Date Unknown), Planning and Writing a Research Proposal: A Guide for Teachers Doing Research, www.scre.ac.uk/spotlight/spotlight47.html

Hillage J., Pearson R., Anderson A. & Tamkin P. (1998), Excellence in Research on Schools, DfEE Research Briefs Report No 74,


Hopkins D. (2000), A Teacher’s Guide to Classroom Research, Buckingham: Open University Press

Kemmis S. & McTaggart R. (Eds) (1992), The Action Research Planner, Victoria: Deakin University

McKernan J. (2000), Curriculum Action Research, London: Kogan Page Ltd

Open University Course 811 (1988), Educational Evaluation, Milton Keynes: Open University Educational Enterprises

Sellitz C., Jahoda M., Deutsch M. & Cook S. W. (1962), Research Methods in Social Relations, (2nd Ed), New York: Rinehart and Winston

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