The Power of Modeling

Are you thinking of something that you would like your students to do a little better? Think of a way to model it. Imitation is one of the most powerful ways for solidifying behavior. Research on this has been done for decades, and it is related to Bandura’s research and formation of social cognitive theory in the 1960s. He found that students were more likely to imitate what they observed from an adult than what an adult praised.

Do you want them to improve their handwriting? Think of ways to write more on the board and model good handwriting. Do you want them to improve the way they talk to their classmates? Consider the way you talk to them and model the tone you expect them to use. Do you want them to use better study skills? Create an activity in class that demonstrates the study skill you expect, and then challenge them to go home and do likewise.

Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul utilized imitation as a powerful means of training others:

  • John 13:15, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”
  • Philippians 4:9 (ESV), “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things…”