Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and its potential to contribute to the teaching and learning of academic writing

Trevor Day

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Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a controversial communications discipline that emerged in the 1970s (Bandler and Grinder, 1975; Grinder and Bandler, 1976), drawing upon fields as diverse as cybernetics (Miller, et al., 1960) and transformational grammar (Chomsky, 1957; Grinder and Elgin, 1973). NLP has garnered little academic support until recently. Now there is growing recognition that NLP might have a role to play in teaching and learning in formal education (Craft, 2001; Ben-Avie et al., 2003; Tosey and Mathison, 2003a, 2003b; Day, 2005) and recent discoveries in neuroscience offer support for a neurological basis for the NLP constructs of rapport, sensory acuity and behavioural modelling (Gallese et al., 2004; Iacoboni et al., 2005; Fogassi et al., 2005; Rizzolatti et al., 2006). Drawing upon learning theory and pedagogical practice (Day, 2008), this paper considers three ways in which NLP might contribute to the teaching and learning of academic writing. The first is the use of perceptual positioning – metaphorically stepping into the shoes of others, including the reader of your writing (Hickman and Jacobson, 1997). The second is the crafting of language to encourage multi-modal representations in the reader’s inner landscape. Both these approaches relate to addressivity and, in particular, the ‘responsive understanding’ of the reader (Bakhtin, 1986; Cheyne and Tarulli, 1999). The third approach is the use of behavioural modelling (Dilts, 1998) to reveal key elements that contribute to the effective practice of writers, including their choice of how, where and when to write.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2008
EventWriting Development in Higher Education (WDHE) Conference 2008 - University of Strathclyde
Duration: 25 Jun 2008 → …


ConferenceWriting Development in Higher Education (WDHE) Conference 2008
CityUniversity of Strathclyde
Period25/06/08 → …


  • addressivity
  • behavioural modelling
  • teaching
  • NLP
  • learning
  • academic writing
  • neuro-linguistic programming


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