This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. The author is solely responsible for this publication (communication) and the Commission accepts no responsibility for any use may be made of the information contained therein. In compliance of the new GDPR framework, please note that the Partnership will only process your personal data in the sole interest and purpose of the project and without any prejudice to your rights.

In the landscape of STEM education, the demand for more than just technical knowledge is becoming increasingly evident. Soft skills, particularly those related to emotional intelligence and empathy, have taken center stage as the BE-21-SKILLED project emphasizes. Role playing emerges as an innovative tool to foster empathy and emotional intelligence among STEM students. In this article, we will explore the world of role playing and how it plays an essential role in cultivating empathy and emotional intelligence, equipping students to excel not only in their technical domains but also in the complex world of human interaction.

The role of role playing

Role playing is a dynamic educational technique that places students in simulated scenarios where they assume different roles and perspectives (Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, 2023). These scenarios often mirror real-life situations and are designed to elicit emotional reactions and thoughtful responses. While role playing is a versatile tool applicable across various fields, it holds a special place in STEM education for several compelling reasons.

Empathy building through role-playing

Sala et al., (2020) as cited in Līce, et al., 2023), argue that empathy is the basis of comprehending and connecting with others on an emotional level. It is the capacity to be aware of someone's emotions. Role playing provides a unique platform for students to step into the shoes of others, experiencing situations from multiple perspectives.

Here's how role-playing fosters empathy among STEM students:

Experiencing diverse emotions: Through role-playing scenarios that involve emotional interactions, students get the chance to experience and understand a wide range of emotions, helping them connect with others on a deeper level.

Effective communication: Role playing hones communication skills, enabling students to express their thoughts and emotions more effectively. This skill is invaluable in STEM fields where clear communication is vital for collaboration and project success.

Navigating complex situations: Role playing allows students to practice ethical decision-making and navigate complex interpersonal situations. This experience equips them with the ability to handle difficult scenarios with empathy and tact.

Enhancing emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence entails having the capacity to process emotional data and apply it to reasoning and other cognitive task American Psychological Association (2023). It's a skill set that is particularly valuable in STEM careers, where teamwork and effective collaboration are key to success.

Role playing contributes to emotional intelligence development in the following ways:

Self-awareness: Role playing encourages self-reflection and self-awareness as students analyze their own emotional responses to various scenarios.

Social awareness: By engaging with others in simulated situations, students learn to recognize and understand the emotions and perspectives of their peers, contributing to improved social awareness.

Effective expression: Role playing enhances the ability to express emotions and ideas clearly and empathetically, a valuable skill in STEM fields where conveying complex technical concepts is often required.

Teamwork and collaboration: Through role playing, students develop teamwork and collaborative problem-solving abilities, which are critical for success in STEM projects and research.

Role playing is a transformative tool in STEM education, enriching students with vital skills in empathy and emotional intelligence. By engaging in simulated scenarios and exploring various perspectives, STEM students not only enhance their interpersonal and communication skills but also develop emotional intelligence. Through the toolkit of the BE-21-SKILLED project, these abilities are recognized, therefore, it aims at introducing them into the STEM curricula.
To learn more about the project and to access the tools visit


American Psychological Association (2023). Emotional intelligence.

Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, (2023). Role playing

Līce, A., Lapiņa, I., Kamola, L., Gaile-Sarkane, E. (2023). European Skills Panorama. Building an Ecosystem for 21st Century Skills Education in STEM. Riga Technical University (RTU). Doi

© 2024 Be21 Skilled. All rights reserved