Modelling question analysis techniques

See Pedagogy and Practice: Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools – Unit 6: Modelling, for a detailed look at the process (DCSF ref: 0429-2004 G).

Many pupils have the necessary subject knowledge, but lack both the experience of using process skills and the confidence to experiment and take risks when they are learning.

Pedagogy and Practice: Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools – Unit 6: Modelling, p. 2


Modelling in the classroom

Also known as ‘assisted performance’ or ‘teacher demonstration’, modelling is recognised by teachers as an effective strategy for when pupils are attempting new or challenging tasks. Modelling is an active process, not merely the provision of an example. It involves the teacher as the ‘expert’, demonstrating how to do something and making explicit the thinking involved. Through modelling, the teacher can:

  • ‘think aloud’, making apparent and explicit those skills, decisions, processes and procedures that would otherwise be hidden or unclear;
  • expose pupils to the possible pitfalls of the task in hand, showing how to avoid them;
  • demonstrate to pupils that they can make alterations and corrections as part of the process;
  • warn pupils about possible hazards involved in practical activities, how to avoid them or minimise the effects if they occur.

Good modelling:

  • illustrates for pupils the standard they are aiming for and establishes high expectations in terms of skill as well as knowledge;
  • helps pupils develop the confidence to use the processes for themselves;
  • helps pupils accept that making mistakes is part of the learning cycle;
  • helps pupils to take risks when learning;
  • helps pupils with special educational needs, who benefit from having processes and skills demonstrated in a clear, concrete way;
  • helps pupils learning English as an additional language, who benefit from the combination of a visual model and an oral explanation;
  • appeals to a significant number of pupils whose preferred learning styles are visual and auditory;
  • provides an effective approach for extending the experience of gifted and talented pupils.

Effective modelling ensures that pupils move from dependence on the teacher as the expert, to independence and being more expert themselves. Vygotsky identified the road to independence as one that leads from scaffolded support.