Summary of “Analyzing the Learning Process of an Online Role-Playing Discussion Activity”

Online discussion activities have been getting more popular and prevalent by the day.  Mainly used in higher education courses, online discussions can have a number of beneficial effects for participating students.  As extensive research shows, most students gain a deeper understanding of material and their cognitive skills are generally heightened.  One strategy that has become more favorable recently involves students learning through role-playing.  This realistic discussion approach can help students develop group decision-making skills, keeps learners motivated, develops problem-solving skills, and can improve communication skills among professionals. 

The report I looked at was based on a lot of research.  Online discussion activities have previously been either focused on interaction or cognition, not both.  The research conducted was aimed at trying to design a way to successfully integrate both dimensions into online discussions.  Researchers studied the frequency of discussion as well as the content of the interaction.  Frequency was easy to measure; the content was more difficult.  They decided to base their research on Bloom’s Taxonomy to distinguish dimensions of cognition. 

After analyzing their data, the researchers found that students participating in role-playing activities demonstrated a degree of cognitive content structure, a degree of different opinions, and sustained concentration.  Role-playing in online discussions also motivated the learners while they developed communication skills. 

A teacher’s role in online discussion is also important.  They must also be responsible for posting thoughtful, intriguing messages to encourage students to strengthen their critical thinking skills.  A teacher’s posts should also be used to evaluate information, provide feedback, and reinforce cognitive aspects that are sometimes neglected in online discussions.  Finally, teachers should make sure to offer a variety of role-paying scenarios to give students the opportunity to perform different tasks. 

Hou, H. (2012). Analyzing The Learning Process Of An Online Role-Playing Discussion Activity. Educational Technology & Society. 15.1, p211



Filed under Assessment

2 responses to “Summary of “Analyzing the Learning Process of an Online Role-Playing Discussion Activity”

  1. I find students seem to enjoy the opportunity for being more playful in role playing exercises — whether f2f or online. I worry about over-use however. I wonder how much is too much.

    • laceyhruby

      I agree with you. I think it is an activity that should be used sparingly, to support the lesson you are teaching. It should not be used as a means to teach the entire lesson or unit.

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