Monday, May 23, 2011

POST #1 - Observational Learning

OBSERVATIONAL LEARNING: Albert Bandura became the dominant researcher in this field of Social Learning. Observational learning is defined as learning by observation and imitation of others. This is one of my favorite methods of learning. As a future teacher, I have noticed this a lot during the observation of my a fourth grade class.

Paying attention, retaining information or impression, producing behaviors, and being motivated to repeat the behavior are the four keys to observational learning. In terms of education, you must have be able to have the student look over your shoulder as you work. Seeing your hands from the same perspective as they see their own directs their attention to the right features of of the situation and makes the learning experience easier. This is the first element. Next is the retention... Involving mentally representing the models actions in some way, probably as verbal steps, visual images or both. Mental rehearsal or actual practice helps the process of retention. For students, motivation and reinforcement is important to their progress. They go hand in hand. Reinforcement helps maintain learning. The anticipation of being reinforced yields to being more motivated to pay attention, remember, and reproduce the behavior. The reinforcement can be direct (i.e. - saying something positive after a specific action is performed) or indirect, AKA vicarious reinforcement. Here, there is an increase chance that the individual will repeat a behavior by observing another person being reinforced for that behavior. For example, if one complements a student's illustration in a lab report, several other students who observe your compliment may mimic that action in their lab report. Self-reinforcement, controlling your own reinforces is the final form of reinforcement - both important for student and teachers. The goal is to produce people who are capable of educating themselves, then students must learn to manage their own lives, set their own goals, and provide their own reinforcement. It keeps the wheels turning for the educator.

This is just one of many ways one learns. Some of the student were not able to download a picture for their report. To resolve this issue, I taught them how to take a screenshot of their desired picture. With a screenshot, one can capture any image that is presented on the computer screen. It took a few steps, but they eventually learned it. I explained what the commands where, where the picture goes once the photo is saved, and how to add the picture to their report. Each step I took with the student was complimented with a rationale. The next week, only a few students remembered how to perform the task, but with some additional practice, they easily remembered how to do it again. Smart students!

Here is an example of observational learning. It is a video that is a little over two minutes. It is about the 1:10 mark where child understand the purpose of the toy.

Some issues are easier to learn if one observes. One great example is me and the pallet jack at work. This pallet jack is used to life a pallet and move it. Initially, it seemed like a simple concept. Please keep in mind that I had no clue how to use a pallet jack. I knew how to pull it, push it, and turn it. I did not know how to lift the two protruding arms of the jack. I made a fool of myself. I stood there for about a minute trying and couldn't figure it out. I left the jack in the parking lot and took a little walk to find another co-worker that was using one. I watched him do it. And I quickly learned the appropriate method. BAM! OBSERVATIONAL LEARNING!

Bandura is famous for the concept of observational learning ENJOY!

.eron ladia

Powell, A., Symbaluk, D.G., Honey, P.L. (2010). Introduction to Learning and Behavior. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Woolfolk, A. (2010). Educational Psychology. Columbus, Ohio: Merrill.

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