To enhance student engagement and interest in the subject, I developed a role-play based on the article by Bill Doolin (2003) “Narratives of Change: Discourse, Technology and Organization”. From my experience of teaching Organisation Studies to undergraduate students and based on their feedback from last year, there was a lack of engagement with the reading materials, primarily because many students found these papers extremely difficult to comprehend. This was particularly the case for international students, for whom English was not their first language and who came to Royal Holloway from a variety of different backgrounds. The specialist vocabulary and academic language of these papers put off even the most motivated students. Still these readings constitute an important part of the syllabus and are crucial for the assessment.
My aim was to make my seminars suitable for students with different learning styles and English language skills and accommodate for sensory preferences. The role-play encouraged students to work closely together as a team, share diverse insights into the healthcare industry from their home countries and reflect on their experience.
Students were presented with the case study of change in a New Zealand hospital during a period of public sector reform and asked to divide into three groups. Each group was assigned an approach to study change: managerialist, processual and social. Students were asked to act as external consultants and present their strategy to the hospital director. I played the role of a hospital director and asked a number of questions, such as “Why do you think your approach is applicable for the hospital?”; “What are the ways to overcome resistance to change?”; and “What could be the potential issues associated with this strategy?”. As a team of consultants students had to present their approach and answer these questions. Other groups were also welcome to participate in the discussion. At the end of the workshop together we decided which strategy was the most convincing.
Students were divided into three groups. They were given copies of the case study (extract from the article; 1-2 per group) to read for 10 minutes. This was done to ensure that even those who had not done the reading beforehand could participate. Groups were given 15 minutes to prepare for their pitch. They were encouraged to discuss advantages and disadvantages of their approach, applicability, narratives of change and the role of technology. Each group had 5 minutes to present their approach followed by a short Q&A session. In the last 10 minutes student were asked to decide which presentation they liked the most. The class finished with general discussion outlining the key concepts mentioned in the workshop.
Some of the positive aspects of the role play that I noticed:
- It created a lively, active learning environment where students are required to get out of their seats and take part in an exercise.
- It was an excellent opportunity to practice presentation and problem-solving skills.
- It helped some students become more confident and speak up.
Comments from students included statements such as:
“That was a fun exercise” and “We could do this more often”.
Kolb, D., A., 2015. Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development, 2nd edition. Upper Saddler River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Morss, K., and Murray, R., 2005. Teaching at University: A Guide for Postgraduates and Researchers. London: Sage Publications.