Cooperative Learning - Role Playing Activity

Alan Hoffman
1991 Woodrow Wilson Biology Institute

Topic: Organic Molecules


  1. To enrich student understanding of organic molecules in an unusual way.
  2. To allow students to incorporate this difficult knowledge into ways of thinking and understanding that they value.


Learning about organic compounds is extremely important but is often disliked by students. A way to reinforce their learning and to meet the needs of various learning styles is to allow them to develop and perform a script in the form of a play. This allows for group interaction and students learning from one another in a very active way.


Organize the class into groups of four students, attempt to include at least one uninhibited, creative student in each group. A sample handout of the assignment is included. Each group is to select one of the "Acts" and develop a skit to perform in class on the designated day. Creativity, humor, and factual, conceptual correctness are to be encouraged. It is important to approach this topic in a way that the students do not think of it as drudgery. Tell them that it is their day to perform and have fun. A sample handout appears below.

The Compounds of Life
A Biological Farce in Four Acts

Act I. Polysaccharide: Ain"t She Sweet?
or (I thought all sugar was the same)

Act II Where Have All the Monomers Gone?
or ( What's this thing they call polymerization?)

Act III Can You Unfry an Egg?
or ( the protein who came unraveled)

Intermission -----Refreshments Provided

Act IV The Promiscuous Enzyme
or (Who is your substrate tonight?)

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