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Reviewing Clinical Skills

Guest Blog Series: The Clinical Connection #3

Using Video Capture and Review as a Clinical Technique for Improving Skills and Enhancing Performance

Post #3—September 2015

In a previous blog post, the notion of using video self-modeling with captured footage to assist beginning clinical students with developing and refining their own skills and style was discussed in detail. As promised in that post, we can apply many of those same principles to use of video footage with our patients/clients/students to target acquisition and refinement of their skills. In reality, both video modeling and the more specific application of video self-modeling can both be used for this purpose. These techniques can be a powerful part of the instructional or therapeutic process across a wide range of disciplines including speech-language therapy, counseling, coaching, and special education. This blog will delve specifically into the use of video modeling with learners and a future post will tackle the more specific technique of video self-modeling.

Video modeling is the use of video footage showing other people in action to teach a person specific skills. It is widely understood that DEMONSTRATION of a skill or behavior can be a powerful tool for learning. Consider the way in which a person might learn specific dance moves to be able to perform the dance or how one might learn to draw a specific illustration by watching it done (possibly pausing and replaying the demonstration to perfect the motions). Not all behaviors are learned this way, but most humans tend to be highly visual in nature and can learn many skills by seeing things done.

Video modeling holds some terrific potential for teaching behaviors and helping others enhance their skills. It’s quite common for a therapist, teacher, coach, or other facilitator of skills to scour video collections, such as YouTube, for footage of “just the right model” when working with a wide range of learners. It can be frustrating to consistently fall short of finding just the right model to show. On the other hand, it can be extremely time-consuming and loaded with obstacles when trying to film, edit, and present original video model creations. Navigating expensive video cameras, placing tripods, running the equipment, negotiating the capture of a quality audio feed, transferring files from a video recorder to a computer, etc. are steps in this process that overwhelm a well-intentioned clinician or teacher. The creation of video productions quickly becomes a powerful technique that gets abandoned too soon.

A video capture system can provide customization opportunities and efficiencies so that appropriate video footage can be efficiently planned, captured, edited, and presented. Mock role plays, real-life scenarios, and guided and narrated step-by-step displays can be performed, recorded, edited (if needed), and saved for repeated use. It doesn’t take much time before you can have a fully developed set of video models stored and organized for repeated use for clinical, instructional, or coaching purposes.

At the beginning of this process, take care to include a planning stage. Determining and securing the appropriate video capture system, mapping out the skill(s) to be highlighted, selecting the appropriate context and materials, and securing participation of logical role-play participants are all key elements of the planning process. Taking time to be intentional about all of these dimensions will better assure that you collect footage that will need minimal editing and that will be a positive match for the desired acquisition and/or refinement of targeted behaviors/skills. Keep demonstrations succinct and resist from having them run long. It is better to have many, shorter video models (approximately 3-5 minutes in length) than to have long and cumbersome productions that have to be edited or broken into parts in order to use. Breaking learning down into smaller steps can allow more learners to be successful.

When using the created videos with the intention of teaching skills, the following efforts should be consider:

  1. The facilitator should make sure to provide appropriate instruction to compliment the video footage (i.e., MEDIATE what’s happening on video before, during, and/or after the showing of the footage). This additional information and feedback will vary depending on the age of the learner(s), purposes of the lesson, and skills being targeted.
  2. Repeated viewing of the video models should be utilized. Do not assume that a one-time viewing can allow someone to learn a desired skill.
  3. Solicit reflection from the learners related to the video footage. Some possible prompts for encouraging reflection could include: What did they just watch? What was interesting? What was successful about what they saw? What looked difficult? Are they able to do what they saw on video? If not, why not? How does this relate to them?
  4. Structure guided follow-up practice to promote acquisition and generalization of skills. Use the video model as a launch pad into a practical application activity. Set the learner(s) up to now engage in a similar or related type of task/activity. Or, in some cases, the specific behavior that was demonstrated on video will need to be mastered by the learner, so the video can be played back many times as the skill is being rehearsed.

A classic example of the use of video modeling in speech-language therapy services would be having a pair of college students role-play a discussion about a controversial topic from a course they’re taking together. The pair of students could demonstrate a “lively” or somewhat contentious discussion about this topic, while negotiating, listening carefully to each other (showing verbal and nonverbal behaviors that demonstrate active listening), and come to a resolution or compromise to move forward with their collaborative project. This video could then be shown to a group of high schoolers with high-functioning autism who are working to refine their own skills of positive nonverbal behaviors, sharing information in a group, and disagreeing appropriately. Having the neuro-typical college students modeling these skills in the role-play video can be a launch pad to having the high school students see the behaviors in action and then practice something similar with each other, bridging the conversation to their real-world contexts throughout.

The possibilities for using created video models are endless. Being intentional and strategic about the use of video capture to create these robust arsenals of footage can better assure efficiencies, more positive results, and great professional reward!