The idea of using images or videos of appropriate behavior in hopes of getting individuals to replicate that behavior is a rather common strategy used today. We see it anywhere from exercise tapes to instructional videos. An adaptation of this strategy that you may not see as often is known as video self modeling (VSM), which involves individuals viewing themselves perform a behavior. This behavior may be something the individual already knows how to do or a completely new skill set that he or she needs to learn.
According to Dowrick (Hitchcock, Dowrick & Prater, 2003) Video self modeling was first seen back in the 1970s when Creer and Miklich used it to help a boy improve his social skills. The idea was that role-playing would increase the boy’s social skills, so the researchers video taped their progress. To their surprise the role-playing had little effect, but when the boy viewed the video of himself attempting role-playing he started having success.
Much has been done with VSM since that point, but the outcomes continue to show the same promising results. VSM has been used successfully to help selectively mute students carry on conversations, autistic students break out of patterns, individuals and students transition into new settings and much more.
Basically there are two types of video self modeling: Positive Self Review and Feedforward. The difference between the two is that positive self review is used to review a positive behavior that the student already knows how to do. Examples of this may include following directions, getting to class on time orsitting down quietly. These are behaviors that a student has probably already performed several times before, just not repeatedly. By using positive self review, the teacher can “catch” the student performing the behavior correctly on video, then show the student the video of him or her performing the behavior.
Feedforward VSM is a bit different in that it is used to show a video of a student performing a behavior they currently have not done before. Sound difficult? It can be, but doesn’t have to. All it requires is a little creativity. Let me give you an example. A friend of mine who works with VSM quite often went to assist with an autistic student who was bothered by several things. For example, if he were to hear a student screaming it would set him off. My friend, along with the student’s teachers, talked the student into sitting quietly and doing some work while the video camera was rolling. After catching a couple of minutes worth of footage, my friend was later able to capture audio of his daughter screaming (for the purpose of creating an audio file) and insert it into the video. After editing out any non-positive behavior, the autistic student was able to watch himself sit quietly and do his work even when loud screaming was occurring. Data was collected and the negative behavior was immediately reduced after the student watched the video.
Lucky for us, VSM has now become much more affordable and easy to create than ever before. There is no longer a need for thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Many times the result you are looking for is only a video camera and some free software away. To learn how to get started look for the Part 2 of this Video Self Modeling post.