Taking a training course should not be reduced to passive listening!

Simple e-learning or lectures, although useful for the transfer of knowledge, do not allow for effective and lasting retention of information. Other methods, such as role-playing and exercises on concrete and realistic cases, promote learning.

Today, professionals are turning to training that relies on the practical application of information acquired in their daily work, allowing them to move from knowledge to competence.

The rule is simple: take action!

Learning from experience

We memorize more easily what we have experienced ourselves: by being confronted with a situation, we can apprehend our own reactions and evaluate possible obstacles. This is called experiential learning or learning by doing.

This action-based pedagogical approach consists in having learners carry out and live the experience to deduce and memorize a teaching. Theorized in 1984 by David Kolb, experiential learning considers that meaningful learning necessarily involves action.

If we were to be very schematic: knowing the breaststroke theoretically will not allow you to swim, you will have to train in the water. This is the same principle applied to all training fields.

Thus, learning is brought by theory, but especially by practical application, i.e. by experimentation. It is a question of active pedagogy.

Practice professional situations

As Martine Mauriras Bousquet points out in Theory and playful practicethere is "no clear-cut boundary between a case study, a simulation game and a role-playing game". This is why we will not define the role-playing situation separately, otherwise we would have to go into many details.

Role-playing allows you to recreate real or imaginary scenes. Applied to training, its objective is to offer participants the possibility of apprehending situations similar to those they encounter, or could encounter, in their daily professional life.

Whether it is a question of common situations constituting the core of the profession (customer reception, advice, presentation of services, etc.), or more complex situations (angry customers), the interest of the role play is to work on a concrete, clearly defined case. The learners play more or less defined roles, which allows them to analyze their behavior and reactions to a problem and to identify good practices. Let's imagine a sales situation, the trainee can just as easily play the role of a salesperson as that of a customer. In both cases, he or she will learn from the situation.

For the strategy to be effective, it is of course necessary to ensure that learners are exposed to a quality experience, offering a suitable learning challenge. So goodbye to the idea of improvised role-playing! The situation must be prepared so that it is meaningful, the level of the trainees must be taken into account from the design stage and the level of guidance during the game must be adapted according to the phase the learner is in.

Finally, no improvisation either for the analysis that follows the game, the debrief and feedback are essential for the experience to have an impact.

Three good reasons to get started

1. The learner becomes the actor of his own training

With role-playing, the learner is forced to get involved, he is no longer passive. They participate and make their own choices.

Intervening regularly keeps the learner focused and alert. Being active facilitates learning and memorization of content. We can recall here the contributions of the psycho-pedagogue Roger Mucchielli, who demonstrated that we retain only 10% of what we read and 20% of what we hear, but that we remember more than 90% of what we do ourselves.

2. Role-playing creates more motivation

As the name suggests, role-playing is first and foremost a game. Learning through games will arouse curiosity, interest and pleasure in the trainee. From that moment on, it will be much easier for the trainer to capture their attention and motivate them.

We can relate motivation to different game mechanisms, which have a greater or lesser effect depending on the profiles and personalities of the learners. In his book Les jeux et les hommes, the sociologist Roger Caillois defined these mechanisms as follows

  • the chance (or hazard),
  • vertigo is the fact of taking risks.
  • Competition, with oneself or with another, is the fact of having to progress and/or win.
  • the simulacrum (or pretending)

The role-playing game can borrow from each of these mechanisms, and it can then be a motivational vector for learners.

3. Have the right to make mistakes

The game also helps to play down a situation of failure. Indeed, in the context of training, there are no consequences in real life. This is what we like to call at PITCHBOY the right to try.

According to the American psychologist Jerome Bruner, "the game provides an opportunity to try combinations of behaviors that, under functional pressures, would not be attempted.

The inaction generated by the fear of making mistakes is not relevant here and that is the whole point. Finally, the fact of being wrong can lead to thinking and finding solutions to solve the problems that are presented to the learner, which can make him/her responsible and lead to more autonomy.

The disadvantages of role-playing

The role-play cannot constitute a complete training, it is an ideal step (or several) to assess the level of knowledge before and after training modules, and the opportunity to move from knowledge to competence without putting pressure on the learners.

However, these scenarios have certain disadvantages. First, there is a problem of scale. Role-playing requires a limited number of participants, forcing the sessions to be repeated, which can become very costly for a company that wishes to involve all its employees. Fortunately, technologies such as PITCHBOY make it possible to digitize certain role plays, offering the possibility of deploying them on a large scale and reaching a large number of employees, who can themselves replay the situation several times.

We can also point out that if the session is not recorded, it will be difficult for the trainer to remember everything that was said, so the debrief will sometimes have some gaps. PITCHBOY always offers a replay of the conversational experiences and can give feedback to the learner, depending on the analysis grid established with the trainer.