Productive or re-productive learning? The art of facilitating interdisciplinary role play and reflections on empathy

Birgitte Ravn Olesen, Helle Nordentoft

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


In the paper we explore the intersection between facilitation and learning processes in an interdisciplinary health care context at a Danish Hospital. Our data consist of video-recordings and observations from 6 interdisciplinary workshops with the title: “In dialogue with the patient”. In the workshops we applied role play in groups as a method. Before the play, we facilitated the role play process orally and in writing. Once the play started, we stepped back as facilitators and let the participants handle the dialogical process themselves. In the video data we explore here, each member in a group of 4 professionals reflects on how h/she experienced empathy was enacted from his/her position in the play. The participants appear to be challenged by their interdisciplinary and personal differences and we explore how they negotiate different knowledge and power relations in their talk about empathy. Inspired by Bakhtin’s dialogical theory, we look at centripetal and centrifugal forces in participants’ talk and uncover the way in which the group members’ tolerance for emergence of multiple knowledge forms and experience of the phenomenon of empathy becomes tensional. Normally it is our experience that the role play is a productive learning method which has potential to transform normative conceptions of “how one should act” into situated and concrete interactions and thereby illuminate differences in and also tolerance for the way in which empathy is understood and enacted – i.e. differences such as level of education, gender, ethnic background and knowledge. However, after analyses of the data we wonder if the learning was more re-productive than productive. Our analysis shows how the majority voice, represented by Danish female participants, with its cultural preferences and prejudices become visible and affirmed – at the expense of the minority voice, represented by the only male with a different ethnical background. In conclusion this finding raises an important pedagogical question about the way in which facilitators can facilitate participatory methods such as role play in interdisciplinary practice settings in order to stimulate productive rather than re-productive learning processes.
Publikationsdato4 mar. 2014
Antal sider1
StatusUdgivet - 4 mar. 2014
BegivenhedNERA 42nd Congress : Education for sustainable development - Radisson Blu Lillehammer Hotel, Lillehammer, Norge
Varighed: 5 mar. 20147 mar. 2014


KonferenceNERA 42nd Congress
LokationRadisson Blu Lillehammer Hotel


  • Productive learning
  • Facilitation
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Role play
  • Health care

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