Learning your craft: Video Self-Modeling

While reviewing assistive technology for a possible grant proposal, I came across an intervention as unsettling as it is effective: Video self-modeling. The most frequently cited author from my brief research was Peter Dowrick at The University of Hawaii. Dowrick typically defines the more general strategy of self-modeling as “the observation of oneself engaged in adaptive behavior”.

Purpose & Audience

Video self-modeling (VSM) is an intervention for preschool to high school students with low academic achievement and/or disabilities. Students are routinely shown an edited video of themselves performing known or emerging skills more appropriately or fluently, or demonstrating entirely new skills. All negative behavior, poor performance, and help from the instructor is cut out of the video recording. This leaves only the student’s positive, targeted behavior behind as a model.


Some notable advantages of VSM over other interventions include:

  • Rapid improvement on academic, behavioral and functional skills.
  • Enjoyable and motivating without being overly intrusive.
  • Culturally appropriate because the students are their own model.
  • The portability of recordings can mitigate loss of skills during any breaks.

Video Overview with Examples

Here is a short video from Tom Buggey at Siskin Children’s Institute demonstrating VSM with a child on the autistic spectrum, then a finicky eater.

Photo: Siskin Children’s Institute


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  4. Learning your craft: Assistive Technology & Universal Design
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