Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title Role Play: 'Club Dread Visits Rarotonga'
Originator Cecile Cutler and Iain Hay
Department School of Geography, Population and Environmental Management, The Flinders University of South Australia, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia
Tel. +61 8 8201 2386
Fax +61 8 8201 3521
Email and

This project outlines a first-year role playing exercise examining cultural, environmental, economic and social implications of a fictitious tourist development on the island of Rarotonga - part of the Cook Islands.

The exercise has a number of important thematic and skills-related aims. They include:

The exercise also encourages a flexible approach to teaching as it allows the students to take control of their learning experience with the tutors' role minimised.

The exercise requires two one to two hour tutorial meeting times. At the first meeting, students are assigned one of the following five roles (as individuals or as part of a small group):

After they have been assigned roles, students should then be given an opportunity to discuss the exercise and their roles in anticipation of the exercise to be held at the next class meeting. Students are also expected to conduct individual research in their own time about their role and the context (in this case the Cook Islands). Group members may also meet to discuss and prepare for their roles. At the next class meeting, a debate examining the 'pros' and 'cons' of the development is held. The tutor acts only as timekeeper. The actual debate and summing up is under the control of the selected Prime Minister(s) in each group. After the role play, and irrespective of the role they played in the exercise, all students are required to complete the following task for assessment:

Prepare a table which thoughtfully and coherently outlines the 'pros' and 'cons' of the Club Dread project in Rarotonga. Support the claims you make with evidence where possible (use figures, references ...). Drawing support from issues raised in the table, write no more than one page (300 words) which says why you (as Prime Minister) would accept or reject the Club Dread proposal.

Assessment is in two parts. The written section contributed 10% of each student's final grade, but participation in the tutorial was also a component of their general tutorial mark.

Students enjoy this exercise and participate very actively. Students wanted to be involved and were clearly motivated to take part with their group. Most of the groups took it upon themselves to hold mid week meetings to discuss their strategies and arrived at the tutorial prior to the starting time for last minute negotiations with other groups they felt would support their 'pro' or 'anti' development stance. An unexpected outcome which further emphasised their involvement and willingness to develop negotiation, as well as debating skills. Some group members arrive bedecked with flowers and covered in facepaint to demonstrate their role!

In evaluations of the exercise, students were asked what they had learned. The open-ended question yielded the following outcomes (top five in rank order):

debating skills/confidence; real life situations are hard to resolve; learned about interrelationships between culture, economy and environment; gained insights into varying points of view; learned some background information about the region. All students considered the exercise to be a valuable part of the course; 85% thought the written component of the exercise should remain; and 97% thought the exercise should remain as part of the course. Overall, the exercise seems to have fulfilled its thematic and skills-related aims. It is also an exercise in which students were very actively involved in the learning experience.

Relevant References:


Role play

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Page created 22 December 1997
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