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In this chapter, I describe a highly structured, student-centered role-play activity. Before coming to class, students read about the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. They then work cooperatively in small groups to decide on how to collectively portray the role of their assigned character from the study. Each group then presents their character's testimonial at a tribunal, with the aim of clarifying the injustices that occurred during the study. The activity is designed to foster collaboration and communication skills and to encourage students to think critically about how this historical study violated ethical standards for conducting research with human subjects. Assessment data suggest that the activity deepens students' understanding about the significance of the study and the purpose of giving informed consent as a research participant.


This chapter was originally published in How we teach now: The GSTA guide to student-centered teaching, edited by R. Obeid, A. M. Schwartz, C. Shane-Simpson, & P. J. Brooks and available at



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