3. Modelling

Resources, ideas and prompts for discussion related to Modelling

So that…pupils know how to apply knowledge and skills and be successful.

What is Modelling and why is it important?

“Modelling a procedure in small step-by-step chunks, followed by focused practice …. is a particularly effective teaching method, especially when taking students through difficult tasks”

Barak Rosenshine – Principles of Instruction: Research-based strategies that all teachers should know

As teachers we find ourselves in a unique and important position of having the responsibility to show learners how exactly to use and manipulate the knowledge they have acquired in order to reach an end product. To learn how to do something well, students gain a great deal from watching and listening to experts guide them through processes step-by-step (just think about how you were instructed how to drive). It also works very well for deconstruction where the end product can be analysed and ‘pulled-apart’ (hypothetically or literally speaking!) to discover how it was created or functions. Allison and Tharby use the analogy of being “like a ship without a rudder” if learners embark on tasks without some models, exemplars, or explanation of how success could look and so on. For those with concerns about ‘spoon-feeding’, that is not the intention of good modelling. Good modelling (going hand in hand with explanation) aided by strong questioning and timely feedback on how to improve/what to do next can courage and direct learners toward independence as they are far better equipped to apply and develop what they are doing.

Modelling: Two take-away essentials

  1. Never assume that students know how to do something that they have never been taught how to do.
  2. Model ‘high’, always use modelling to set the benchmark for what is excellence.

Finally, an interesting side point in terms of modelling is that there is a behavioural element to it also; whether we like it or not our students watch our every move! Classroom behaviour can become reciprocal in nature as a result to due to the principles of modelling. A calm voice from a teacher more readily elicits a calm response from learners, if we model listening to learners they are more likely to listen in the same manner, and perhaps crucially make sure that you model that you love your subject.

The pages in this section explore some approaches and techniques to develop modelling. As mentioned modelling is complemented by our explanations (and also linked to questioning).

Associated further reading and references: