Behavior Modeling and Practicing the New Skills

In a behavior modeling program, each learner must have an opportunity to practice the new skill. In most cases, it is possible to provide practice opportunities. In certain situations, however, it might not be cost-beneficial to do so. Imagine, for example, that someone advocated that all airline passengers boarding transoceanic flights practice using flotation equipment in water before flying.

The purpose would be to ensure that everyone could float with the flotation device when fully clothed. Those who couldn’t do this would be provided with feedback and coaching on how to use the flotation equipment. Continue reading

Behavior Modeling and Skills Deficiency

Although we might assume that we can readily identify the behaviors to be learned in all skill deficiency situations, many times one set of behaviors is not enough because the skill must be used in a number of significantly different types of situations.

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For example, in attempting to train salespeople to build rapport with clients or potential clients, we may find that one set of behaviors is not sufficient because there are many different types of potential clients. Po¬tential clients may, for example, be categorized as: a) reluctant, b) openly hostile, c) needing help in solving a problem, d) friendly, but uncertain of specific needs; each of these requires a different set of behaviors. Continue reading

Behavior Modeling for Managers and Supervisors

Since behavior modeling began as an experiment with a few supervisors at General Electric in 1970, it has grown into a learning technology that will be utilized in the training of more than 500,000 supervisors, managers and employees this year. Certainly, the numbers are impressive. But the pragmatist should ask, “How do we know that behavior modeling is the most effective learning experience for every one of those 500,000 learners?” The answer is, “We don’t know and probably never will know.”

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Nevertheless, we must ask that question each time a decision is made to use behavior-modeling programs in our organizations. We all have a responsibility to our organizations to use behavior modeling (or any other learning technology) only when it is the most effective and cost-beneficial approach to a given problem. Only through careful deliberation can we determine when and under what circumstances behavior modeling should be used. Continue reading

Principles of Behavior Modeling

Behavior modeling or imitation learning was a virtually unresearched and unknown topic prior to the 1941 publication of Social Learning and Imitation by Miller and Dollard. Their studies lead them to view imitation learning as a special form of the behavioral conditioning process.

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Essentially, the trainer must provide a sample of the behavior, the learner must respond in a way that matches the sample, and the imitation must be positively reinforced. In Bollard’s and Miller’s view, the “model” simply informs the learner where to go or how to behave for reinforcement. The learner does not acquire new, previously unexhibited behavior from the model. Though much of Miller’s and Bollard’s interpretation of results and theorizing has been questioned recently, they deserve credit for prim-ing the pump, for beginning to re¬¨search the question, “How and what do people learn simply by watching others?” Continue reading