Could entertainment-education be used to prepare your students before they enter your live workshop?

Have you ever had a new group of students walk into your live presentation or workshop completely unprepared to receive the instruction that you spent so much time preparing? They just didn't have the right attitude or level of confidence as they walked into the room. Wouldn't it be ideal if the participants of your training program walked in with a high level of confidence (also referred to as self-efficacy) that they could learn what you are about to teach? This is possible using the principles of Bandura's (1986) social cognitive theory. Albert Bandura conducted research on the effects of vicarious modeling on various behaviors.  

For many, learning in a self-directed model seems to work well. For others, they thrive on social interactions that come from in-person classroom education. The debate over which is more effective, online self-directed vs. in-person classroom learning will rage on for many years to come. In this article, I will review a series of studies that compare the effects of dialogue education (Freire, 1972, Vella, 2008) vs vicarious learning (Bandura, 1986). Both methodologies are effective when targeting a particular outcome. In this article, I argue that a blend of both methods may be the most effective when you want to change attitudes, behaviors, and increase confidence (self-efficacy). 

Developing self-efficacy using vicarious modeling

Self-efficacy, or confidence to follow through on a behavioral intention, can be strengthened through vicarious modeling (Bandura, 1986). Researchers and practitioners can present vicarious models through different mediums.  Practitioners can present vicarious modeling through on-stage theater (Dill-Shackleford, Green, Scharrer, Wettterer, & Shackleford, 2015; Lieberman, Berlin, Palen, & Ashley, 2011) or film (Harris, 2013; Schneider et al., 2015).  The actors provide vicarious modeling by acting out either positive or negative behaviors.  The viewer can observe the rewards and punishments vicariously and learn from this type of modeling.  The viewer learns by reflecting on the message and developing new expectations or levels of confidence to behave the same way as the actors in the film.  Vicarious modeling in entertainment-education videos can significantly increase self-efficacy to follow through with behavioral intentions.  For example, Beach et al. (2016) reported a 775% increase in self-efficacy to increase communications regarding the sensitive topic of cancer of a family member, when comparing viewers of an entertainment-education video to viewers of an informational video.

Proposed Instructional Model (opportunity for future research)

If your students can first improve their confidence to learn, prior to entering a live interactive workshop, we would expect the outcomes of the workshop to be improved (Galyon, Blondin, Yaw, Nalls, & Williams, 2012). If students could first be exposed to an entertainment-education narrative designed to increase self-efficacy to learn the topic of your workshop, I posit that learning within the workshop will be more effective. 


Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Beach, W. A., Dozier, D. M., Buller, M. K., Gutzmer, K., Fluharty, L., Myers, V. H., & Buller, D. B. (2016). The conversations about Cancer (CAC) Project—Phase II: National findings from viewing When Cancer Calls…and implications for entertainment–education (E–E). Patient Education and Counseling, 99(3), 393-399. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2015.10.008

Dill-Shackleford, K. E., Green, M. C., Scharrer, E., Wetterer, C., & Shackleford, L. E. (2015). Setting the stage for social change: Using live theater to dispel myths about intimate partner violence. Journal of Health Communication, 20(8), 969-976. doi:10.1080/10810730.2015.1018622

Freire, P. (2005). Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition. New York. Continuum International Publishing Group.

Harris, M. S. (2013). Efficacy of utilizing a novel Education-Entertainment strategy to increase health information seeking behaviors among African-American patients and the feasibility of its incorporation into healthcare settings. Community Medicine & Health Education, 3(3), 1-6. doi:10.4172/2161-0711.1000210

Galyon, Blondin, Yaw, Nalls, & Williams (2012). The relationship of academic self-efficacy to class participation and exam performance. Social Psychology Education, 15, 233-249. doi: 10.1007/s11218-011-9175-x

Lieberman, L. D., Berlin, C., Palen, L., & Ashley, O. S. (2011). A theater-based approach to primary prevention of sexual behavior for early adolescents. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 32(5), 730-753. doi:10.1177/0272431611424726

Schneider, F. M., Weinmann, C., Roth, F.S., Knop, K., Vorderer, P. (2015) Learning from entertaining online video clips? Enjoyment and appreciation and their differential relationships with knowledge and behavioral intentions. Computer in Human Behavior 54, 475-482. doi 10.1016/j.chb.2015.08.028

Vella, J. (2008). On Teaching and Learning: Putting the Principles and Practices of Dialogue Education into Action. San Francisco: John Wiley.