Role Play

Role play is learning how to best handle a situation by practicing interactions and trying out different approaches. Students may act out situations, problems, and issues in a safe setting and develop skills that promote sexual health. Role play is a very effective instructional method proven to increase self-efficacy and impact student behaviour. Role play requires careful preparation to ensure a structure emphasizing healthy sexuality through practicing basic learning’s, such as abstinence negotiation. Participation in course role plays have led to higher satisfaction of usefulness and greater teaching improvement.

Advantages of Role Play

  • Provides opportunity for students to assume roles of others, therefore appreciating another person’s point of view.
  • Allows for a safe exploration of solutions and an opportunity to practice sexual health skills.
  • Tends to motivate students to learn.
  • Promotes and develops critical and creative thinking, attitudes, values, and interpersonal and social skills.


1. Prepare class for role-play

  • Present an artificial problem, situation or event that represents some aspect of reality.
  • Define the problem, situation and roles clearly.


2. Give clear instructions

      • Determine whether role plays will be carried out using student volunteers in front of the class (the teacher may or may not play a role), in partnerships/small groups with every student playing a role, or in small groups with role-players and observers.
      • Divide students into groups, if appropriate, use small group activities.
      • Model the skill with a scripted role play.
      • Suggest including a few-minute time limit; and the opportunity to perform more than one skill practice.


3. Act out role-plays

      • Students follow the procedure outlined by the teacher to act out role plays.
      • Unless the teacher is playing a role, it is helpful to walk around the room and observe how students are experiencing the role play and offer coaching to students who are stuck.


4. Discussion (small group and whole class)

        • Begin by allowing players to communicate feelings experienced during the role play.
        • Have students identify sexual health skills that were demonstrated during the role play.
        • Determine actions that strengthen or weaken these skills (i.e. body language).
        • Discuss how this role play is or isn’t similar to real life.
        • Identify ways of using identified sexual health skills in real life situations.

Alternatives to Traditional Procedure

        • Have students write role plays as scripts.
        • Have students write down responses and then role-play in front of the class.
        • Have students generate a list of challenging “lines”, then have a student read the lines to the class and have each student give a response.
        • Have students develop and act out plays.

Tips for Using Role Play

        • Begin with fairly easy situations and work up to more challenging ones.
        • Be aware that some students may feel threatened or self-conscious. Using humour can help dispel embarrassment. Using role plays that exaggerate weak responses might break the ice.
        • Reduce the level of abstraction or complexity so that the students may become directly involved with underlying concepts.
        • If students find it difficult to determine skills which model sexual health, they could observe successful role models or ask experts to suggest approaches.
        • If attempting an unscripted exercise, be sure it is the correct approach for your students’ comfort level.
        • Try introducing readings before role plays to introduce new knowledge and experiences to help motivate students2.


Role playing activities can be found within the lesson plans. Activities are located at the end of each lesson.