| Nutrition learning packages |
|How to use the Nutrition Learning Packages: A guide for trainers|
|Providing a good learning experience for trainees|
|2. Choosing appropriate training methods|
Role-playing is like acting out a drama in front of the rest of the group. In a role-play, trainees (and sometimes the trainer as well) pretend to be other people. Each person takes the role of someone else. They speak and act as they think these people would in a given situation. The rest of the group watch and pretend that the role-players really are the people they are acting. The group learns by seeing and discussing how people behave in a certain situation. Here are two examples of role-plays.
• Four trainees take it in turns to pretend to be a community health worker explaining to three mothers the importance of preventing diarrhoea in their children.
• A large group of trainees pretend to be village leaders discussing how to get some families to stop polluting the village well.
Other examples of role-plays are given in the Nutrition Learning Packages 1, 2, 8, and 9, Materials 1A, 2B, 2C, 8B, 9C and 9D.
When should you use role-playing?
• To move discussion forward when it is stopping. You could say (for example): 'Imagine you are a mother whose child has been sick with diarrhoea for four days and is not getting better. How would you feel? What would you do?
• You can also use the role-plays for more people and for a longer time, for example, for the whole group for a whole session or for half of a session.
Why is role-playing useful?
• When people pretend to be someone else, they are more comfortable saying how they feel than when they are asked directly about their own feelings.
• Role-playing helps people understand how others feel.
• It can also be used to help trainees practise how to teach or how to communicate with others.
How should you use role-playing?
• Choose a topic or problem.
• Choose the 'actors'.
• Give the role-playing information like a story. For example: 'You are a community health worker. You have just come to visit Mrs Mwangi because you have heard that her four-month-old baby is very sick. You know that last year Mrs Mwangi's 18-month-old child died after severe diarrhoea. What will you do? What will you say?
• The 'actors' can present the role-play in front of the rest of the group. Or pairs of trainees can take turns acting out the situation, and the whole group can then discuss what happened.
• Summarize the discussion by pointing out the ideas and problems raised. Could this happen to a community health worker when he or she is really working in a village? What should she or he do in the real-life situation?
Why is role-playing important as a learning method?
• Role-playing can be a good learning method. It can show more about people, and how they behave, than pictures or demonstrations can .
• Seeing the role-play about the mother with the baby who has diarrhoea will probably not tell you much about diarrhoea, but will tell you how the mother thinks and feels, and what she says and does, about her baby and about diarrhoea.
• Role-playing can also help community health workers practise how to do their jobs in the community.
Why is a discussion necessary after role-playing?
• Just watching role-playing does not help people learn. The trainer must lead a discussion afterwards to make sure trainees have drawn out of the role-play all the things that can be learned.
• Always discuss what happened in the role-play, how the people felt, why the things happened, and what can be learned from this.
Trainers and teachers often forget that the discussion after role-playing is more important than the role-play itself. They think that trainees learn just by watching the role-play. If trainers and trainees do not discuss the role-play enough, a good opportunity for learning is lost. If you learn to use role-playing well, it can be a good way to help people learn.
It takes time and practice to use role-playing well.