THE APPLICATION OF ACADEMIC ROLE-PLAYING AS A WAY TO CONSTRUCT REAL SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE AMONG DEGREE STUDENTS
Traditionally society has not viewed chemistry in a very positive light at all. Due to the consequences of the industrial revolution, the effects of nuclear accidents and/or the results of chemical wars, it was very difficult to separate chemistry from pollution and risk. Currently our understanding of chemistry, and specifically of analytical chemistry, is different, and the stigma once attached to it is gradually disappearing.
Many tools have been used to engage students with analytical processes, such as research projects, or problems based learning PBL. Despite their multiple advances, they have also some disadvantages: the expensive equipment usually required, the necessity to specify the contents and activities to carry out during each session before the beginning of the course, etc. But the main problem is that students are not totally free to hypothesize about a problem, or to participate in a real scientific conflict which requires them to make a decision. All these objections are solved by academic role-playing. Students can reproduce an analytical conflict, thinking in situ about the problem in hands. In this way, students will not only understand the methods, they will be real participants of the scientific research.
Academic role-playing does not only serve to involve students in a real problem which requires a solution. It also serves as a tool for participants to improve some skills, such as, their perception about a problem, their problem-solving skills, their self-confidence, etc.
The participants of the role-playing game proposed here are students of the second course of the degree in chemistry. The activity has been designed to introduce students to the first step of the analytical chemistry. That is, to the treatment and pretreatment step of an analytical process. The facilitator’s guide of this subject includes several concepts related to the sampling process, the statistical tools for the adequate selection of the sampling sites and physic-chemical pretreatment and treatment of the samples.
Activities to carry out within the Academic role-playing game.
The model that will be used for the role-playing game is a convergent model. That is, the problem is introduced to the class, usually as a pass or current action. The roles and the steps or sequences are specifically given to the students in detail.
In this case, the issue selected is an environmental conflict. An industry is supposedly dumping wastewater in a river which provides water to an important city. The class is divided according to the following roles: the ministry for the environmental protection, the enterprise, the university, the city and a jury. Each group will defend their interests explaining different situations, questions or data that they consider relevant. Finally, the jury highlights with some examples that they can apply with efficaciousness the information learned during the course. The jury also will indicate some connections between the concepts used in the discussion and the learning material of the course.
The effectiveness of the Academic role-playing game:
The effectiveness of the role-playing game will be tested by an anonymous questionnaire. Moreover, a deeper reflection will be done. The groups defined for the role-playing game are asked to evaluate their learning in terms of course content, teaching or research skills. Finally, each group explains the advantages or limitations of the teaching method