Integrating ‘role play’ in assessment to strengthen professional conduct and accountability of students : a pilot study

Rainey, Thomas, Jayasuriya, Kanchana, & Gottlieb, Udo (2014) Integrating ‘role play’ in assessment to strengthen professional conduct and accountability of students : a pilot study. In Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE2014), 8-10 December 2014, Wellington, New Zealand.



In a process engineering setting, graduates are frequently allocated reviews of existing operations or required to scope new production processes by their supervisors with a view to improving or expanding on operations and overall productivity. These tasks may be carried out in teams and in consultation with the process engineer’s immediate line manager or a more experienced engineer, such as the Production or Maintenance Manager; ultimately reporting to senior management, which is frequently a non-engineer. Although professional skills development is part of engineering curricula, ‘professional conduct’ and ‘accountability’ required for dealing with peers and superiors in industry is not very well addressed at university. Consequently, upon graduation, many students are, in terms of knowledge and experience in this area, underprepared to work effectively in industry settings.


The purpose of this study was to develop and implement a role-play scenario within a core 2nd year process engineering unit, so that students could gain knowledge, skills and experience in different aspects (and nuances) of professional conduct and accountability.


In the role-play scenario, students worked in ‘engineering production teams’ to design a process for an iconic Queensland fruitcake and to present their solution and recommendations (culminating in a poster presentation) to an assessment panel consisting of staff, role-playing as, ‘production and plant managers’. Students were assessed on several areas, including professionalism using a criteria referenced assessment guide by a 3-member cross-disciplinary staff panel consisting of a Business Faculty lecturer, an engineer from industry and the lecturer of the Process Engineering unit. Professional conduct and accountability was gauged through direct questioning by the panel. Feedback was also sought from students on various aspects through a survey questionnaire after the role play activity at the end of semester.


Overall, the role play was very well performed with students achieving an average score of 79.3/100 (distinction grade). Professional conduct as assessed by panel was on average better than scores given for professional accountability (4.0 compared with 3.6 out of 5). Feedback from students indicated that the learning activities had contributed to their overall understanding of the content and the role of process engineers. Industry involvement was rated very highly as contributing to their learning at 4.8 (on Likert scale from 1 – 5) and the poster presentation was rated at 3.6.


This pilot study was successful in implementing a new assessment task for modelling professional conduct and accountability within a 2nd year core unit. This task incorporated a role-play activity and there was evidence to suggest that this and associated learning tasks were successful in broadening students’ understanding and skills in this area required for engineering practice. Following feedback given by students and staff, improvements will be made to the nature of the problem, how it is defined, its assessment, and the approach taken in the role-play scenario when the unit is offered in 2014.

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ID Code: 78701
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Role play, engineering education, professionalism, accountability, tertiary education, HERN
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > CHEMICAL ENGINEERING (090400)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Higher Education (130103)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Current > Schools > School of Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Rainey, Jayasuriya, Gottlieb
Deposited On: 16 Nov 2014 23:50
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2015 01:42

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