Education Negotiation Role-Play:

Conference with a Professor

Bruce Patton
Two-party short awareness-building exercise in which student and professor meeting regarding problems arising from a borrowed manuscript and the student's research aspirations

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Free review copies of non-English Teacher’s Packages will be emailed upon request. Please contact  or telephone 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.)


A law student has an appointment with the only professor who has given the student an A+. The student has two objectives for the meeting–getting a recommendation and a research assistant-ship with the professor. The professor is currently writing a book on copyright law and computer software, a subject of great interest to the student, who in fact borrowed the professor’s manuscript, and has kept it longer than agreed. The professor does not know why the appointment was made, but remembers the student as being intelligent and personable, and thinks that perhaps it is the same student who borrowed the missing manuscript. A search for this draft manuscript was initiated sometime ago. Since that time, the professor has had to rewrite many portions from scratch.



The two parties meet for approximately 5-15 minutes. Either party can be given additional role instructions about the kind of person to play. Videotaping is helpful for review. The exercise can be run twice, with the parties switching roles in the second round.



  • This exercise focuses on interpersonal skills and psychological awareness. How do different individuals approach each role? What does that suggest about their psychological interests? Are they effective? Why or why not?
  • There is also a clear opportunity and considerable incentive for misrepresentation by the student. How do different people handle this, and what consequences does misrepresentation have in their verbal and nonverbal behavior?
  • This exercise presents a challenge worthy of a skilled negotiator: to tell the truth in a way that strengthens the relationship and allows the other issues to be dealt with positively, each on merits.



Role Specific:

Confidential Instructions for the:

  • Professor
  • Student



Agenda control; Apologies; Communication; Credibility; Emotions; Ethics; Fairness; Information exchange; Interpersonal skills; Issue control; Misrepresentation; Nonverbal communication; Personality; Power imbalance; Psychological games; Relationship; Risk aversion; Separating the people from the problem


Conference with a Professor Attributes

Time required:
30 minutes – 1 hour
Number of participants:
Teams involved:
Agent present:
Neutral third party present:
Teaching notes available:
Non-English version available:
PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You are then permitted to view the document on your computer and either print the number of copies you purchased, or forward the electronic file as many times as the number of copies you purchased. You will only receive a link to one electronic file per document. So, if you order 25 soft copies, you may either forward copies of the link to 25 people via e-mail, or print (and/or photocopy) 25 hard copies of the document.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

The purchase price and handling fee are the same for both soft and hard copies. Soft copies do not entail a shipping fee.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, then you should order a single Teacher’s Package for that role simulation. A PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package is also available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. There is no need to order participant materials as well as a Teacher’s Package, as all Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters. Please note that the materials in Teacher’s Packages are for the instructor’s review and reference only, and may not be duplicated for use with participants.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

If you wish to order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Participant Copies.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required; the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Participant Copies.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.