Diving into Complexity: Developing Probabilistic Decentralized Thinking Through Role-Playing Activities

Mitchel Resnick*, Uri Wilensky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


There is a growing interest in role-playing activities, both in school classrooms and in the culture at large. Despite this growing interest, role-playing activities are rare in mathematics and science classrooms. In social-studies activities, a major goal is to help students adopt the perspective of another person. However, mathematics and science classes typically discourage this type of perspective-taking; science is usually taught as a process of detached observation and analysis of phenomena, not active participation within phenomena. In this article, we argue that role-playing activities can play a powerful role in mathematics and science education - particularly in the study of the new sciences of complexity. We present detailed descriptions and analyses of 2 role-playing activities that we have organized. Each activity is designed to help students explore (in a very participatory way) the behaviors of complex systems, helping them develop better intuitions on how complex phenomena can arise from simple interactions, and predictable patterns from random events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-172
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Learning Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Diving into Complexity: Developing Probabilistic Decentralized Thinking Through Role-Playing Activities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this