Role Playing and Perspective Taking: An Educational Point of View

Role Playing and Perspective Taking: An Educational Point of View

Nadia Carlomagno (Department of Educational Sciences, University of Naples, Naples, Italy), Alfredo Di Tore (Department of Human, Philosophical and Educational Sciences, University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy) and Maurizio Sibilio (Department of Human, Philosophical and Educational Sciences, University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/ijdldc.2014040104


The rationale of this work combines the concepts of role playing and storytelling in the creation of an interactive virtual environment aimed at assessing and training students' perspective taking skill, or the ability of students in primary and secondary level to take the point of view of the characters of a narrative. The ability to take the perspective of others is extremely important from the cognitive point of view. Piaget has suggested that the moment we abandon the egocentric perspective in favor of the ability to take another point of view, takes place not earlier than seven years of age. Subsequent researches challenged the findings of Piaget. For this reason, the project will address children in the last years of primary school (aged 8-10) and the first level of secondary school (aged 11-13). From 8 years old then, in fact, the child, in the opinion of many researchers who have addressed this issue, should be out of the egocentric stage and should have acquired the skill of perspective taking. The goal of current stage is to create a tool that allows the students to take the point of view of the characters in a story and to make choices in the narrative, which are consistent with the role of the character played.
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2. Roles And Functions

As this work is based on the role as a key component of the role playing and storytelling, we believe it is appropriate to start with a precise definition of “role”.

According to Hayes-Roth, a role is a class of individuals whose behaviors, relationships and interactions prototypes are known to the actors and the audience (Hayes-Roth, Van Gent, & Huber, 1997).

In order to develop this meaning of role in interactive virtual environment, we have also based on the seminal work of Vladimir Propp's morphology of the fairy tale, published in Russian in 1928, but largely unknown in the West until its first translation in 1958 (Propp, 2010).

In the present work, Propp’s typology is useful “because the narrative progression depends on function rather than content. The functions are arranged in a consistent sequential order but the content within the functions can change. It thus allows us to swap content without derailing the narrative of the story” (Aylett, Lim, Louchart, Petta, & Riedl, 2010; Gibson, 2010).

One of the most fruitful developments of the theory of Propp, in fact, concerns the function of the characters in the tale. When the linguist and anthropologist called the thirty-one functions that make up the story, offering its world-famous scheme, he wanted to put the accent on what the characters do, on what they experience, rather than on their identity, including that of gender.

To characterize, namely, the development of the story plot, nodal actions are carried out from time to time by the hero-protagonist and deuteragonists, by antagonists as well as by simple “characters”, even outlined for a short time. The function is, for Propp, “an act of a character, defined from the point of view of its significance for the course of action”. According to Propp, “functions of characters serve as stable, constant elements in a tale, independent of how and by whom they are fulfilled” (Propp, 2010).

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