Learning Social Work through Role Play: Developing More Confident and Capable Social Workers


  • Mary Banach University of New Hampshire
  • Alison Rataj University of New Hampshire
  • Michael Ralph Portsmouth Hospital
  • Lucia Allosso Concord Hospital




Role-plays are a staple teaching tool in social work classes that help students apply practice skills.  Various uses of role-plays have been discussed in social work literature.  Intensive simulated role-plays in which students practice skills over a series of weeks alternately acting as a social worker and a client, offers an opportunity to practice skills in greater depth.  This small-scale research study examines undergraduate students’ perceived improvement of their interviewing skills through participation in an intensive simulation. Qualitative data were collected through surveys administered over three years. Results suggest that students learned by observing, receiving immediate feedback, and acting as a social worker. Findings also indicate that students valued the experience and felt it prepared them for practice with clients. Implications for teaching and undergraduate social work programs are discussed.

Author Biographies

Mary Banach, University of New Hampshire

Department of Social Work

Associate Professor

Alison Rataj, University of New Hampshire

Research Associate

Institute for Health Policy and Practice

Center on Aging and Community Living

Michael Ralph, Portsmouth Hospital

Social Worker

Behavioral Health

Lucia Allosso, Concord Hospital

Inpatient Social Worker

Concord Hospital


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2020-07-07 — Updated on 2020-07-07

How to Cite

Banach, M., Rataj, A., Ralph, M., & Allosso, L. (2020). Learning Social Work through Role Play: Developing More Confident and Capable Social Workers. The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 17(1), 42-60. https://doi.org/10.1921/jpts.v17i2.1308