Role-play as an instructional method in grade seven science classes : a case study

Coombes, Greg (1989) Role-play as an instructional method in grade seven science classes : a case study. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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A wide body of scholarly research reports that teachers consistently choose from a narrow repertoire of strategies in their teaching. This study attempted to broaden teacher repertoire directly, assessing teacher and student response to a new teaching method, role-play, while monitoring its implementation. Role-play was chosen as a suitable model because it is student-centered, has a history of educational use and is rarely encountered in science curricula. The investigation covered the full range of curriculum development, using a case study approach. A series of pilot studies in five classes over six months led to a curriculum package which was used in seventeen classes. This package consisted of a thirty-page role-play scenario with role briefs for student use plus guidelines and background for the teacher. The role-play concerns a town council debate over a proposed mine in an ecologically sensitive area. It requires two class periods. The material is suitable as a science-technology-society exercise for any secondary science class. Teachers attended a two-hour workshop about the teaching method. A total of fourteen teachers used the final package with four hundred and seventy-eight students. These classes were all at the Grade Seven level, in rural and urban schools. Students completed questionnaires before and after the role-play. The questionnaires assessed their attitudes to science and science teaching methods through Likert type and open-ended questions. Student responses to the Likert items were tabulated and examined for correlations with teacher responses. No significant differences were found among the classes. Student responses demonstrated clear and consistent attitudes about their science classes. This included a dislike of seatwork and teacher talk and a strong liking for field trips and laboratory work. Student responses on the open-ended questions were categorized. Representative comments were chosen to illustrate the range of student feelings about their science classes and their reactions to the role-play. The comments support the positions indicated by the Likert responses. In addition, they reveal deep student support for their active participation in the classroom. The role-plays were videotaped and analyzed using a rating scale. The rating scale had an interrater reliability of eighty-eight per cent. Teacher implementation of the role-play model, as might be expected for a first effort, varied over the wide range of twenty to eighty per cent. The study showed the feasibility of using role-playing classes in Junior High Science and the role-play's influence on affective learning of a large group of students. An important secondary finding was that teachers showed a wide range of implementation of the teaching technique. All teachers and ninety-six per cent of students expressed strong support of the exercise.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 8594
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 162-173.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1989
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Role playing--Case studies; Science--Study and teaching (Secondary)--Newfoundland and Labrador

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