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Role-playing is an active participation tool that facilitates cooperative learning. It has also proved to be more effective in developing competencies than traditional methods. Competencies, as well as being necessary for the student’s professional development, are also required for European Higher Education Area adaptation, in which Spanish universities are now engrossed.
The example of “Learning by doing” is especially difficult to achieve in disciplines like social sciences, that don’t count with laboratories or “field work”.
That is why this technique is essential to make theory and practice compatible as is required in order to adapt subjects to the new education system based on the Bologna’s agreement.
Consequently, the objective of this paper is to show the effect and use of role-playing applied to management area.
Therefore, we analyze and design the role-playing, putting it in practice in the classroom. This paper shows the seven year applied experience of this technique in several Human Resource Management (HRM) subjects of different academic degrees: Degree in Business Administration & Management, Degree in Tourism, Degree in Employment and Labour Relations and Degree in Marketing Research Techniques.
HRM, from a systematic perspective, consists of different processes. Amongst these processes, the recruitment and selection phase are considered to be fundamental from finding, pre selecting, selection testing up until the hiring of the chosen candidate. This is why role-playing is one of the proposal practices to be used in HRM subjects when applied to the final employee hiring process in a firm.
To be able to manage the whole hiring process, the activity was divided in many phases, which developed in different sessions throughout several weeks. Role-playing was applied to groups of thirty students and each session lasted two hours.
Experience has taught us that with this activity the student is able to learn and make his own the company’s employee hiring process. As well as being able to perceive and face business reality better from both the possible candidates and the employer’s point of view. Also, it is worth considering the fact that role-play brings with it empathy and a greater understanding of others. This is obvious to both teachers and students alike, as well as the difficulties and the efficiencies of this tool for the learning process in the highest level of cognitive knowledge.
By playing both roles it is easier to accept others points of view and at the same time learn about how one could react when being in that same situation. Therefore it helps to resolve conflicts assuming responsibly when making final decisions. Although this is an exercise and great risk are not being taking, the more emotional involvement the students feel the better it prepares them for future real cases.
To conclude, this paper has shown the importance of role-playing as a learning tool and development of skills like work cooperation, problem and conflict solving, decision making, and managing complex systems.
The relevance of this paper is justified by: firstly, the limited use of role-play in the business management area and secondly, a technique that brings a change in the traditional philosophy of teaching based in the innovative educational system, nowadays required by the European Higher Education Area.