Role Play on the Part 3 Test
For the ADI Part 3 test of instructional ability, a knowledge and experience of role play is essential. Indeed, the entire outcome of the test depends upon your reaction to situations that crop up in an environment that is based completely on role play.
It is absolutely essential that you develop the skill of treating the SE as a learner. Not only that, but two different learners for the two phases of the test. There are a huge number of failures at Part 3 because of a lack of role play skills and assuming that the SE is an experienced driver. You have been warned.
I have nearly 20 years experience in training and learning in a role play environment, and I’d like to pass on just a few tips that can make the role play experience a wonderful learning tool for all concerned.
If role play is not approached correctly it can be a remarkably destructive tool, leaving trainees feeling confused and ashamed of their apparent lack of skill.
Yet, if role play is approached and developed carefully, the positive benefits can be absolutely dramatic.
First let me give you an insight into just how valuable and important role play is as a training and learning tool . . . teaching real learners is not the most effective way of learning to teach real learners!
It sounds quite contradictory, and is certainly a controversial view, but airline pilots do not learn to fly airplanes by flying airplanes! They learn and develop on simulators, before they progress to flying real planes.
Teaching real learners has a definite element of risk and danger involved. Your trainer or the SE will not kill you, but a learner just might. You can very effectively learn how to deal with all and every situation through effective training and effective role play. In the case of a PDI, role play is your simulator. With effective training, you can learn how to deal with dangerous situations without ever being put in any danger. You can then progress to supplement your training by taking on the pink and teaching real learners.
In many cases, the pink is not a supplement to effective training, it’s a substitution because of a lack of it!
Role play can prepare you to deal with all and any situations that you come across. It can help us gain real understanding of real situations. For Part 3 of the ADI test, a solid understanding of role play and how to Control it is essential. So, how do we approach role play and how can it help us? How can we learn to enjoy role play and not be fearful of it?
Nearly all of us use role play in our day to day lives without even realising it. Have you ever had a disagreement with someone whom you know you’ll be speaking to again soon? Perhaps your boss or a colleague? Even a family member? Have you found yourself rehearsing in your mind, over and over, what you want to say to them and imagining both sides of the conversation?
I bet you have. Nearly all of us do. It’s a completely natural process and what you are actually doing is ‘mentally’ role playing the situation, with yourself playing both parts. Because you role play both parts, you can Control it totally. You can mentally Control what you say and you can Control the responses that you get.
You are creating your own experience of a situation in your mind. Many of us even add our own images of the participants, their facial expressions and gestures.
It is true that for many people these ‘constructed memories’ become confused with reality . . . a very powerful effect of role play and the reason why it has to approached with care.
Real role play, with real people, is simply an extension of this. When two people play the two different parts, you both have the opportunity to practice and prepare for unexpected responses. If used properly, it gives you the chance to improve your experience to a remarkable degree.
Role playing has been used as a training tool for a long time. In learning any skill, role play can be a very flexible and effective tool.
Have you heard the famous old Chinese saying “I hear I forget, I see I remember, I do I understand”?
This ancient proverb could have been written to describe the benefits of role play. Role play can be used to make sense of theory, bringing together learning and practical experience. Role play is a fantastic method of making concrete sense of all the knowledge you’ve gained and in giving you the personal skills to hone your instructional ability.
Yet role play quite often goes horribly wrong, leaving all those involved confused and with waning confidence. In these circumstances the role play situation has not been the success that it should have been.
So, how can we take the fear out of role play and ensure that we use it to positive effect?
Well, first of all, role play is a subject that should be actively taught and developed along with all of the other Core Competencies that an ADI needs to possess.
As instructors, we quite often have our pupils carry out mock driving tests. A role play. You play the part of the examiner and the pupil just drives. Would you ever get a pupil on their first (Controls) lesson and say “right then, lets not mess about. Drive me round the block and I’ll tell you whether you’d pass your test or not”?
Of course not, and yet how many times do trainees get plunged into a simulated Part 3 pre set test with an ADI trainer in the drivers seat and an extra trainee intently watching in the back seat? “Come on then, teach me all about turning left at a junction. . . you know how to do it. My names John, what’s yours?”
Any wonder that many PDI’s dread the ‘hot seat’ and feel their confidence slipping away?
For the Part 3 test, it’s absolutely vital that you listen very carefully indeed to what the SE says to you when giving you the word picture, which sets the scene for the lesson.
Be absolutely clear about what you want to get out of the role play. Foggy thinking at the outset will result in foggy outcomes. Clear thinking will result in clear outcomes. Role plays need to have firm objectives, just like any good lesson, and the outcomes need to be positive and add to the learning experience.
It is vital that both you and your trainer know exactly what you want to achieve from the session before you start. Training to be a driving instructor is journey of self discovery. Every long journey needs to be divided into smaller, manageable destinations. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?
The needs of adult learners dictate that feedback needs to be given immediately to be of any value. In your Part 3 training, you are the learner. Feedback must be specific, and it must be given straight away. Any areas for improvement should be relevant, realistic and achievable.
This is another reason why repeatedly practicing the pre set tests, with your trainer giving you feedback at the very end, is almost always a waste of time. Adults just simply do not learn like that.
We need to be realistic in our ambitions for the role play and set specific, measurable targets that are relevant and achievable. By asking you to deliver a role play lesson on an entire PST subject, you are in effect being assessed on your ability to teach, before you’ve even been Trained to teach.
On far too many occasions the trainee is literally slung in at the deep end with a very complex task to perform with an audience. Failure and waning confidence are almost guaranteed, never mind the effect on the observers who are thinking “oh no. not me next”
Role playing can become ineffective and dangerous if trainees are uncertain about what they are supposed to do or what they are looking to achieve. The instructions for all those involved in role play should be unambiguous and in line with the objectives. Here again, fuzzy thinking can have terrible emotional consequences. Be extremely clear about your purpose and avoid embarrassment.
In using role play for developmental training, it is absolutely essential that the trainer builds in the option to press the ‘pause’ button where trainees feel they are having difficulty or don’t understand something.
I’ve heard of very many occasions when a trainer has answered the trainees pleas for help with “for goodness sake, we’ve talked about this already”. This is completely unacceptable, although it is a common reaction from trainers who are interrupted in mid ‘flow’. Never forget that you are not acting out the scene from a multi million dollar movie, you are training and learning, rehearsing the way that the you will deal with real situations.
Role play involves real human beings, with feelings and emotions. The strategies for good, effective, developmental role play are simple. Role plays must be planned with objectives that are clear and easily understood. Feedback needs to be specific, relevant, achievable and given immediately in line with the needs of adult learners.
You are aiming to develop behavioural changes. These must be achieved without shame. You must remove all barriers to learning and create an environment in which you can all share an extremely powerful and incredibly useful learning tool.
Used properly, trainees will experience a truly remarkable and memorable learning experience that will equip them for their future lives as ADI’s. If you or your trainer approach role play incorrectly, it can be the most devastating time of your career.
If you detested every minute of your role play, think of the reasons why? Then vow that your learners and future ADI trainees will never feel the same way.
People are such a worthwhile investment. Invest in them wisely.
I wish you the very best in your role play training activities