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 Role Playing Assessment Example

This example is provided to demonstrate how the iPortfolio can be used in assessment, teaching, and learning. Academics are invited to use the iPortfolio Assessment Template when designing similar learning experiences and assessments.

Role play an ethical dilemma in your discipline. Use your profession's Code of Ethics as a framework to inform your interaction with stakeholders. In particular, do the following:

  1. Work in small teams to role play an ethical scenario in which one member of the group plays the role of a professional in your discipline.  Other members of the group take the role of other stakeholders described in the given scenario. Each student has a turn as the professional, as at least one of the other stakeholders, and as the camera person.
  2. The designated camera person records the interaction on video.
  3. The student taking the role of the professional uploads the video and any significant out takes (if any) to their iPortfolio and tags them with the appropriate graduate attributes.
  4. The student taking the role of the professional invites other members of the tutorial group to offer their constructive feedback using the iPortfolio.
  5. Each student offers constructive feedback to other members of the tutorial group on their videos.
  6. The student writes a reflection on the outcome of the interaction, describing how the Code of Ethics informed their communication, and considering the constructive feedback of their peers.

Although this describes role playing ethical case studies, it could also be adapted for role playing other types of scenarios.

These include:

  • Health care provider and patient interactions
  • Mock job interviews
  • Teacher and student interaction in education
  • Exposing unstated user requirements in Information Technology
  • Developing a design brief with clients in the creative arts

Pedagogical Basis

Students are able to consider possible solutions to ethical dilemmas in hypothetical scenarios using their professional society's Code of Ethics to inform their approach to the problem. This can be done before similar scenarios are actually encountered in the workplace when the stakes are much higher. This form of assessment is more authentic than essays and exams, as it requires students to read body language and to utilize oral communication skills in a realistic way.

Graduate Attribute Unit Learning Outcomes Role of the iPortfolio
Professional Skills
Professional Skills
Apply the professional society's code of ethics to a range of case studies.
Digital video is used to record an authentic role playing experience. This can be uploaded to the iPortfolio and embedded in an entry along with a reflection on the lessons learned as a result of participation in this activity. It is arguably easier to demonstrate oral communication skills on video than it is using other paper-based assessment formats. The ecording, together with the reflection, has the potential to become an enduring assessment artifact that is relevant for inclusion in a professional portfolio long after the unit is over.
Thinking Skills
Thinking Skills
Analyze the impact of various scenario outcomes on stakeholders.
Participants speak to the camera to capture what they are thinking when they analyze potential scenario outcomes and how they propose  to handle the situation. Participants turn to address the other stakeholders when enacting the scenario and demonstrating stakeholder communication skills.
Communication Skills
Provide constructive feedback to others on their solution to ethical case studies. Professionals have a responsibility to look after their own professional development, and to contribute to the professional development of others on their team or with whom they work. Consequently, it is important to develop the skill of providing constructive feedback to others in those situations where it is appropriate to do so. The iPortfolio feedback feature can be used for this purpose.
Communication Skills
Reflect on the impact of your solution to the ethical case study and how you anticipate handling similar scenarios in the future. An iPortfolio template provides a format or structure to guide reflective writing exercises. For example, the STAR-L template has headings for the Situation, Task, Action, Result, and Lesson learned.

Students are encouraged to reflect on "out takes" as well as a final polished video and the feedback of their peers.

Regional Contextualisation

Role playing ethical scenarios in this example are informed by a Code of Ethics as defined by a regional Professional Body. For example, student engineers in Australia would use the Code of Ethics from Engineers Australia (EA). Student engineers studying at Curtin Sarawak would use a similar framework defined by the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM).

Marking Rubric

Criteria Exemplary Competent Developing Incomplete
Ability to apply the professional society Code of Ethics
Consideration is given to the impact on the stakeholders using the professional society Code of Ethics as a framework to inform choices and outcomes.
Ethical consideration is given to the impact on the stakeholders. There is a recognition that these are sometimes in conflict, and that action that has a positive impact on some can have a negative impact on others. However, a formal framework like the professional society Code of Ethics is not used to inform the the resolution of these.
Ethical consideration is given to the needs and impact on some stakeholders.
Resolution and stakeholder ineteraction  focus on technical, commercial, or business considerations and generally do not use an ethical framework to inform choices and outcomes.
Ability to communicate to stakeholders at an appropriate level Communication with stakeholders was accurate, respectfull and responsible, and at a level appropriate to the stakeholders' knowledge and understanding.
Communication with stakeholders was accurate, respectful and responsible.
Communication with stakeholders was  accurate, but not respectful or responsible.
Communication with stakeholders was misleading.
Reflection on scenario outcomes
Reflection considered what was learned as a result of action taken. This includes the things that worked well and that had the best possible outcome for stakeholders. It also includes the things that would be done differently should a similar scenario arise in the future.
 The reflection considered what was learned as a result of the action taken with a focus on positive stakeholder outcomes.
The reflection assumed that there was one right answer and defended the action taken. The prose in the submission was descriptive rather than reflective.
Ability to offer constructive feedback to others
Feedback was offered that reinforced positive aspects of the scenario, in addition to offering constructive suggestions that would enable the recipient to improve their skills and abilities.
Feedback communicated things that require the attention of the recipient.
Feedback took a form that would be of some limited value to the recipient.
Feedback was not offered to the specified number of others.

Passing Levels: A student will be considered to have passed if their level of achievement is Exemplary, Competent, or Developing.


Role Play Example
Ethical Role Play Video


Situation: A university IT Department is implementing a new student records system. The university will use the new system, and it will also be sold to other universities to use at their institutions. It is now time to make decisions about kind and degree of security to build into the system. Developing the student records system has already cost more than planned and it is behind schedule. The Project Manager wants the security portion of the system implemented as quickly and as cheaply as possible. The programmer has concerns that this may not be the right thing to do, but this is his first job after graduation. He is nervous about disagreeing with the Project Manager, who is his boss. However, he is aware that his Project Manager reports to the Chief Information Officer, who wants the most secure system possible.

Task: Use the professional society's Code of Ethics as a framework to resolve the ethical issues in the scenario.

Action: In my role as the programmer, I convened a meeting with the stakeholders to discuss the relevant issues.

Result: The view of the Chief Information Officer and the programmer that safeguarding the information assets of the University took priority.

Lessons learned: Much of the feedback I received from my peers pointed out that the brunt of my interaction with the stakeholders centered around technical issues and technical resolutions to the scenario. As a programmer, falling back on a technical solution or approaching an ethical issue from a technical standpoint is relatively natural for me. However, talking bits and bytes can distract me from focusing on the ethical issues, and the framework put forward by my professional society. In this scenario. There are issues of:

  • priority - safeguarding the information of others;
  • competence - endeavoring to match the operational and financial needs of my clients, which were at odds in this case; and
  • social implications - advising my clients and employers when a project or a proposed solution to a project is not in their best interest.

Having an opportunity to role-play scenarios like this, and enact them before encountering similar ones in the workplace in the future has been valuable to me.

Click here to see an example of another type of role playing scenario in which a student pharmacist counsels a patient.

Instructions for students

Consider appointing a narrator to read the scenario description on camera and introduce the scenario.

The student taking the role of the professional should turn to face the camera to describe their analysis of the situation, who the stakeholders are and how various alternatives will impact them, and how the Code of Ethics informs how they will handle the situation.  When addressing a stakeholder, turn and face the individual taking that role.  You may turn to face the camera as many times as you wish to describe your thoughts or reasons for taking a given course of action, but you should attempt to keep the interaction between you and the other stakeholders as realistic as possible.

Stakeholders should do their best to play the given role.

Instructions for academic staff

Mark to the rubric. While students should be encouraged to use technical skills and to develop new ones, this learning experience and assessment will not award marks for technical skill or competence. Although developing technical skills is important, these are taught and assessed elsewhere in the course. The focus of this exercise is on stakeholder communication and the application of a professional society Code of Ethics to given scenarios.