Video Modelling

One exciting way to enhance teaching and learning using video is an evidence-based intervention called video modelling (VM) otherwise known as video-based intervention (VBI).

VM is a visual teaching method that involves watching a video demonstrating a targeted behaviour or skill in a given situation and then imitating it.

Types of video modelling include

  1. Video peer-modelling (VPM) – videos of peers modelling desired behaviour for one another.
  2. Video self-modelling (VSM) – videos of individuals modelling desired behaviours to play back to themselves.
  3. Video point of view modelling (POV) – videos of modelled behaviour from the point of view of the learner (e.g., two hands tying shoelaces) and shown to the learner.
  4. Video prompting (VP) – the explicit expected behaviour is broken down into discrete steps and videotaped and shown to the learner.

The different types of VM can be used in one-to-one sessions, groups, class-wide and across the school to teach a range of skills. Which type of VM to use depends on working out what works best for each child and what behaviour you are looking to change.

VM provides a concrete demonstration of what is required and how the behaviour should be performed.

A video can easily be paused to highlight or review a specific point or social response for a learner. It can be more effective than live modelling because the video can watched several times and are perfect for feedforward and positive self-review.

Real-life can’t be paused or rewound!

Empirically supported

Evidence-based studies have shown that VM has real impact and can teach communication, academic, play, functional, life and social skills.

VM is a proven and highly effective means of teaching all children, especially children with autism.

In a meta-analysis of 23 studies published between 1987 and 2005, Bellini and Akullian (2007) concluded that,

“video modelling is an effective intervention strategy for addressing skills important to self-determination for students with ASD, including behavioral functioning, social-communication skills and functional skills.  As would be expected according to Bandura’s theory of modelling, students performed best when they were highly motivated and attentive because they enjoyed watching the videos.”

Research also suggests VM is effective across a range of ages, behaviours, and abilities.

Albert Bandura developed the social learning theory that recognised that people can learn new information and behaviours by watching other people. This is known as observational learning, imitation or modelling. He said that human behaviour is primarily learned by observing and modelling others.

“ Observational learning is a cognitive and behavioural change that occurs as a result of observing others engaged in similar actions.”

After more research, Bandura found that it is best if a child is his/her own model so VSM is particularly powerful.

Professional athletic teams and the military were the first groups to apply Bandura’s theory of observational learning. They videoed specific events and then reviewed themselves learning a new behaviour or improving on an existing skill or behaviour.

How is VM Used?

  • The pupil watches the model demonstrate the skill/skills. Videos must only show the desired behaviour and be positively framed. Any negative or unwanted behaviour must be edited out.
  • The video must be ‘Beyond capability but not beyond possibility’ – that is pitched only just beyond the achievement level of the viewer.
  • Videos may have an introduction and explicitly name the video’s goal as in a title and narrative introduction – e.g. ‘Nathan walks with the group’.
  • Length of videos used are recommended to be within the one to two minute range, with a maximum of two minutes.
  • After watching the video, the pupil begins to imitate skills from the video. These skills might be new of changes to existing behaviours.
  • The student then begins to utilise that skill in new situations.

Show, not tell

From a behavioural perspective, VM offers enormous scope for managing responses and developing self-efficacy.

Video could be used to prime an individual for a situation or an upcoming event.  For example, a model behaviour could be videoed where someone is being teased and this could help children to see how they could react. VM can model what language could be used and provide the learner with more information about the timing of social language.

Videoing in this way allows you to provide a child with a ‘picture’ of behaviours that are expected which prepares them and can help reduce any potential anxiety.

VM can be used as an intervention strategy and could be especially useful for teaching discussion and conversational skills. The videographer (teacher) can use video recordings of pupils to replay certain scenarios, highlight features and include demonstrations of parts of conversation such as speech prosody, inflection and appropriate volume (Charlop et al. 2010; Charlop-Christy et al. 2000; Ferraioli and Harris 2011).

When children actually see themselves or their peers performing expected behaviours this can have a profound effect and bring about a significant change in their behaviour.

VM is particularly suitable for children with Autism and intellectual or developmental disabilities and research has shown that some change in behaviour is noticeable within the first 3 views of a VM.

Why Use Video Modelling?

There are many benefits of using VM for applied behavioural analysis including:

  • Ease of use
  • Ability to teach an endless array of skills, behaviours, language, etc
  • Promotes proactive positive behaviour
  • Videos mirror real-life and show not tell
  • Rapid acquisition and acceleration of skills
  • Fun and engaging videos promote a pupil’s desire to interact with the video
  • Help children manage a big transition (e.g., new teacher, moving schools)
  • Help children understand a new concept or strategy (e.g., new vocabulary, a strategy for regulating emotions)
  • Supports individual needs
  • Allows teachers to select or customise learning scenarios for teaching specific skills
  • Applicable in a variety of settings
  • Pupils are motivated by technology
  • Opportunity to teach multiple skills within one video scenario
  • VM for children with autism is a natural fit because they are visual learners, naturally drawn to video and other visual inputs.
  • Can be used to teach perspective taking to children with autism
  • Children identify with peers and models similar to them, and are therefore engaged when watching them.
  • Easily combined with other teaching strategies.
  • Videos can be saved and used for many students used over many years.

And finally….

VM is a highly successful method to facilitate a wide range of students in acquiring skills within the school environment.

Although VM has been around and researched since the 1970’s, it is only now developing as a very practical, effective and accessible to teach pupils model behaviour.

With years of research supporting the use of video modelling, it is a mystery why this method is so underused.


Bandura A. (1986). Observational learning. In A. Bandura (1986), Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. (pp. 169-195).

Bellini, S. & Akullian, J. (2007), A meta-analysis of video modelling and video self-modelling interventions for children and adolescents with ASD. Exceptional Children, 73, 261-28.

Charlop, M. H., Dennis, B., Carpenter, M. H., & Greenberg, A. L. (2010). Teaching socially expressive behaviors to children with autism through video modeling. Education & Treatment of Children, 33, 371–393.

Charlop-Christy, M. H., Le, L., & Freeman, K. A. (2000). A comparison of video modeling with in vivo modeling for teaching children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30, 537–552.

Ferraioli, S. J., & Harris, S. L. (2011). Treatments to increase social awareness and social skills Evidence-based practices and treatments for children with autism (pp. 171–196).

John Dabell writes for Lessonbox

Video is a powerful tool to enhance teaching and learning. Staff, students, leaders and parents can now engage with video in ways that were unattainable several years ago.

© 2018 Lessonbox Ltd.