Observational learning is when learning happens by observing other people’s actions. Observational learning involves cognitive processes such as attention, motor skills, motivation, and memory. For observational learning to take place the person who is observing the behavior needs to be paying attention to it in order to learn it. Another important part of observational learning is being able to remember the behavior that you saw, so you can repeat it. As well as being able to remember the behavior the person also needs to be able to perform the behavior for observational learning to occur.
Motivation plays a role in observational learning because you have to want to do the action for a reason. All these things are important in observational learning. Observational learning can be used on something more basic or more complex. Learning to play a certain song on the piano could be observational learning. My friend had a piano and she would play it when I was over her house, she played one certain song all the time. I would watch her play the song as well as listen to the way it sounded. I learned how to play the song eventually from watching her play it so much.
The reason why I paid attention to her playing the piano was that I liked the sound of the song she was playing. I already knew a little about the piano because I had taught myself how to play a very simple song previously, so I had the motor skills, which allowed me to be able to play the song. Of course I was motivated to play the song or else I would not have paid attention to learning it. The reason why I was motivated was because I liked the way the song sounded, and I thought it would be fun to be able to play a full song on the piano.
Learning how to play an instrument is a good example of observational learning, but not the only type of learning that can occur. Most people know how to cook, even if they have never taken a cooking class, this is because of observational learning. My friends and I used to make these huge elaborate breakfasts the morning after we had a sleepover. None of us had ever taken cooking lessons, but we knew how to cook because we had watched our parents cook before. When my parents would cook I would watch them and pay attention to what they were doing because the food they were making always smelled really good, and I wanted to know how and why it smelled so good.
Most people do have to motor skills to be able to cook, because it is working with your hands. What motivated me to want to learn how to cook by watching my parents is that I would not have to rely on anyone else to get me food, which could be useful at any given time. Observational learning can apply to many different situations. Learning how to ride a bike is a skill that most children learn, some learn by getting step-by-step lessons by parents or guardians, but some also learn through observational learning. When I was young my parents did not teach me how to ride a bike, I learned by watching my friend ride her bike.
I did have all the motor skills necessary to ride a bike, but it did take time to apply it to a different situation than what I was used to, to learn how to apply the skills to bike riding I watched the way my friend stayed balanced and rode her bike by moving the pedals with her feet. What made me pay attention was the same thing that motivated me to want to learn, which was the fact that it looked like a lot of fun. Although most children do not learn how to ride a bike through observational learning, it is possible. Observational learning can be applied to really anything that can be learned.
Observational learning is a key part of life, which everyone does it at some point in his or her life. The examples from my life are just a very small bit of the different ways observational learning can be used. There are four important parts to observational learning, attention, memory, motor skills, and motivation. Without one of those important parts, observational learning is unlikely to be successful. The most basic things people do, are learned through observational research. Observational learning is an important part of everyone’s life.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 10 October 2016
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