Have you ever considered how babies learn? It is fascinating to know they simply observe, they observe their surroundings, their parents, siblings, play items etc. Before you it your child has on your shoes and jewelry modeling around, why? Because they watched you do it. 

Learning through observation can be said to be one of the best and effective ways one can learn. Learning through observation is simply learning by attentively and intelligently watching. 

According to Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory 1977, “Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are formed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.”  

His theory opined that people can learn just by watching and learning from others. This has come to be known as observational learning (Modeling).
Observation could be done through conscious efforts or subconscious efforts. Making conscious observations to learn, takes more than just watching someone do something. Ultimately, educating one self and practicing what has been observed makes the learning process faster. This piece focuses on the conscious efforts of observational learning.

Observational Learning Steps

Your first step to learning through observation is actually watching and paying attention to whatever you’ve focused on. Without committing your full attention, you won’t be able to understand, personalize and process what you’re observing. Anything that detracts your attention might have a negative effect on the observational learning process. Paying attention to details is vital in this step, these major and small details are what will provide a larger and complete picture of what you’re learning. In an example of an apprentice in a fashion industry, in order to bring a complete dress to its beauty every little detail has to be on point, even to the tinniest button.  When it comes to the case of practical formal education, students are continuously told to pay attention. It is a student’s responsibility to observe with detailing all the tutor demonstrates. 

Storing information is an important part of observational learning.  If this second step is overlooked then you would have learned in vein. One of the best ways of retaining information from observation is to note them down because as the saying goes… a short pencil is better than the longest memory; writing it down helps you make easy reference anytime. It could be a style of talking or a particular use of a word. Just note it for easy reference. Keeping what you have observed is essential to the final step.

This last step is simple but very key. Practice makes perfect. Which simply goes to say that after careful observation, what is next to do as an individual hoping to learn and master the art, is to practice everything that might have been learnt through the process. An easy example is learning how to deliver the news on television, giving a speech or probably learning how your favorite football player skills through to score a goal. Practicing is the next option after observation. After all, the entire goal in learning is to be able to use it!

Learning through observation can give an in-depth understanding to situations, being it complicated or simple. It is surely a faster way of gathering information. It also serves as a form of motivation, seeing others perform an activity will motivate you to also perform. All around us there are things to learn, changes we need to observe. Pay Attention and Learn!


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