Activity: Reflecting about professional self-esteem through drama

Transversal Skills:
Creative and critical thinking
Learning to learn
Interpersonal and socio-emotional skills

Teaching- Learning Approach:


   Miller Pyramid

Learning outcomes

By the end of the activity, students should be able to:

  • Identify and analyse own fears and insecurities related to their future profession and learn constructive ways to face them
  • Identify and analyse the “ideal” ways of facing professional challenges
  • Receive and offer peer support to overcome fears and insecurities


As regards transversal skills, students should be able to:

Interpersonal and socio-emotional skills:

  • Express ideas clearly and fluently
  • Use precise and descriptive/content-specific vocabulary to enhance the topic or message
  • Share information in an organised and interesting way
  • Share an analysis of the main message to interpret, synthesise and/or evaluate the meaning of the content in order to draw a logical conclusion about the topic
  • Show empathy and use non-verbal communication and active listening
  • Persevere in the face of difficulties
  • Develop positive and emotionally safe interaction and develop and co-create teamwork
  • Create a non-discrimination atmosphere
  • Facilitate conflict resolution, remain calm under pressure, and control one’s emotions in conflict situations

Critical and creative thinking:

  • Identify and deal creatively with unexpected, unforeseen, and complex situations that can be exploited, and to evaluate different solutions
  • Acquire, process, produce, and evaluate information critically and from the perspectives of different fields and decisions, taking into account both individual and community perspectives
  • Question norms, practices, and opinions, and to reflect on own one’s values, perceptions and actions
  • Develop innovative solutions to answer different questions and to create new and worthwhile ideas; elaborate and evaluate ideas in order to improve and maximise their creative efforts

Learning to learn:

  • Identify learning outcomes, relate them to prior knowledge, and manage her/his own learning process
  • Have the capacity for self-assessment
  • Use prior knowledge to plan a strategy for approaching a new task, and transfer what they have learned from one context to another, or from a previous task to a new task


Brief description of the activity

In the professional development of social and health workers, it is important to reflect on one’s lights (assets, resources) and shadows (fears, insecurities). This can however be scary and risky in group learning situations. Triggering these thoughts through building imaginary characters can help explore these from a safe distance. Therefore, the activity consists of building a fictional character and role playing how s/he would act in a professionally challenging situation. 


Activity plan: step by step


Before the activity


Things to take into account prior to the activity:


  1. Context. There is no prior limitation of the number of students, but take into account that each group must be composed of 4 participants. Decide how many of these groups will play their scene.
  2. Materials necessary for its implementation. The room should allow students to move around, and there should be movable chairs. You should also provide students with large paper sheets and coloured pens to draw.
  3. Human resources necessary for its implementation. The teacher(s) should have a facilitating role and move around groups to help them build the characters and scenes. If more than one teacher is involved in the activity, according to the number of students and scenes to be performed, make sure they are aligned in terms of how to help students build the characters, elicit their fears and insecurities, and facilitate the open discussion.  


During the activity

Step 1. Definition of the fictional character. Divide the students into groups of 4 people. Each group should create a fictional character and sketch him/her on a large piece of paper. They should also give this character a name, age, gender, hobbies, health status, personality traits, define where s/he lives, his/her family and social situation, economic situation, and a slogan for life (what defines this character in one sentence). The character’s job will depend on the students’ profession (e.g. nurse, physician, social worker). As an optional activity, they can also sketch on another large piece of paper this character’s home. Although this step is not essential, it will deepen the characterisation of the fictional character’s lifestyle and values. It will probably build safety and humour within the group as well. 

Step 2. Lights and shadows of the character (and students). Define a professionally challenging situation. For instance, dealing with culturally diverse patients or angry families. Groups should list on a separate sheet the “ideal” reactions (3 to 5) that the character should have to the situation. These would be the “lights” of the character. You can provide them with the pedagogical framework to help them build this list. Then, they should list the “actual” reactions (3 to 5) that the character would have, according to the personality traits, family, social and economic situation, values and lifestyle… defined during the previous step. These would be the “shadows” of the character and will probably mask the students’ own fears and insecurities. Therefore, this part of the activity should be carefully facilitated. 

Step 3. Role-play. Now that the groups defined the lights and shadows of their fictional character, it’s time for role-playing. They should build a scene to represent the situation defined in the previous step of the activity. A member of the group should play the “lights” of the fictional character, while another one should play the “shadows”. 

Step 4. Open discussion. The whole group should reflect on the scene and the differences between the two sides of the character. The debate should elaborate on the hidden thoughts of the characters, what would be a constructive self-talk to deal with the situation, how can professionals improve their transversal skills to actually enact their “lights”, etc. 

Step 5. Frozen picture. Ask the students to go to the spot where they realised or learned something. Take a frozen picture of the position where all the students are placed. Ask them to reflect about the moment: what happened and why did that make them learn something.


After the activity

After the activity, it’s time for self-reflection. Ask them to self-reflect about the transversal skills that appeared in the scenes that they either performed or observed, how the scenes related to their personal experiences, fears and insecurities about the professionals, the constructive ways to think about and work on professional insecurities, and how can they help others overcome these fears and insecurities.


Evaluation tool

Transversal skills are difficult to evaluate, particularly among big groups of students. Therefore, in this section we propose a tool for students to self-assess the development of these skills. The tool is divided into three dimensions: suitability of the learning activity, level of achievement of learning outcomes, and transferability to professional settings. You can adapt the dimensions and/or indicators that you use according to your teaching-learning context and needs. 


Evaluation tool to self-assess the development of skills during the activity

For each of the following statements, select the best answer on a scale from 1 to 4, where 1 means “Not at all” and 4 indicates “Yes, totally”. N/A means “not applicable”.

  1 2 3 4 N/A
DIMENSION 1. Suitability of the learning activity
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of time          
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of resources (material resources, physical space, etc.)          
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of content          
I found this learning activity engaging          
I found this learning activity challenging          
I found this learning activity disruptive in comparison with other learning methodologies          
I found this learning activity useful to learn [add the subject]          
I found this learning activity useful to retain knowledge          
This learning activity motivated me to deepen my knowledge of [add subject or hard skill]          
This learning activity allowed me to feel emotions that would be rather difficult to experience with other learning methodologies          
I would recommend this learning activity to others          
DIMENSION 2. Level of achievement of learning outcomes
This learning activity helped me to improve… 
…my ability to [add a row for each learning outcome of the activity that you performed, both related to hard and transversal skills]          
DIMENSION 3. Transferability to professional settings
After this learning activity…
…I will be better able to apply what I learned to my reality (everyday life, classroom, professional life)          
…I feel more capable to perform in a professional setting          
…I feel I can make better choices regarding professional situations          
…I feel more prepared and self-confident to address professional situations          

OPEN QUESTION – Use this space to explain whatever you think is remarkable from the learning activity, including strengths, weaknesses, improvements, potential uses, feelings or dilemmas you encountered during the activity. 




Download evaluation tool in pdf here.




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           Author / Creator

            Jouni Piekkari


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