Learning with In-Class Role-play

By: Cooper Lee

A psychology class at Trine University’s Angola campus has found a way to combine creativity, and a carefully measured field into a project that is beneficial not only for their thought processes, but also future career experiences.

This unique take on projects originates in a psychology class titled “Personality of Psychology”, taught by Professor Donna Wyse. This project entails students interacting with one another through a role-played scenario, or students can choose to write a poem that portrays a particular personality disorder. Junior Faith Patterson, a psychology minor, explained the process further, saying, “The general idea of the project is to role-play or write a poem about a personality disorder that the students draw randomly out of a basket.” Students are interactive from the jump, preparing their piece to present to the entire class, who are tasked with the most difficult facet of the experience.

“The audience has to guess at, and diagnose, the kind of disorder being role-played based off the symptoms the student is showing,” explained Patterson.

This is a fun, inclusive project that allows psychology students to further understand the people they’ll potentially work with, as well as their own strengths that have been stockpiling since freshman year. When asked why she felt this project was meaningful, Patterson said, “For the students who are visual learners, this makes learning easier to comprehend, as opposed to being lectured about the disorders from a PowerPoint.” Students learn in a multitude of ways, and this is just one of the ways psychology professors are helping Trine students succeed in a creative way. The classes are getting a lot of meaningful experience, the end goal, of course, being an understanding of different disorders.

“The goal for the students performing the role-play is to become familiar with the disorder,” says Patterson, “knowing its symptoms, duration, and behaviors presented.”

Patterson has decided to partake in a role-play rather than write a poem, which she is very excited about. She was randomly assigned an unidentifiable personality disorder from the DSM-5, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is very challenging to not only perform, but diagnose as well.

“I can select symptoms from the social anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder that would clash,” said Patterson.

Beginning April 23rd, students like Faith will be flexing their acting muscles to better understand their abstract field of study.