Observation is one of the best ways to learn. Not only will observation allow you to see exactly how something is done, but you will also be able to learn the technique from the person doing it. However, learning through observation can be more difficult than you think. This is because this learning requires much more than just watching someone do something. However, you will greatly improve your learning ability by observing, reinforcing what you have learned, and educating yourself about observational learning.
Part 1 of 3: Observe to Learn
Step 1. Look and pay attention
Your first step in learning through observation is actually looking at and paying attention to what you are focused on. If you do not give your full attention, you will not be able to understand and internalize what you are observing.
- If you are watching someone give a class, put your full attention on that person. Make sure you are in a good place to see that person instruct. Also, make sure you can hear everything he is saying. Lastly, pay attention to body language and how you talk and interact with your students.
- Observe how others react to what you observe. This can determine how effective they are based on positive or negative responses.
- Avoid doing other activities when you are observing. For example, put your cell phone away, turn off the music, and don't talk to the people around you.
- Do not think about anything that is not related to what you are observing.
Step 2. Take notes
If possible, when you observe something, you should also take notes about it. Taking notes will give you the ability to record details, large or small, that have to do with what you observe.
- Use a journal to record your observations. For example, if you are observing someone teaching, make a note of what they do. If that person verbally repeats what they are writing on the board, write it down. This may be a technique that you will want to emulate later.
- Write in a summarized way, use abbreviations or use some other type of system so that your notes are efficient and convey what you observe.
- Type or retype your notes later, which will help you retain the information you have learned.
Step 3. Look again
After you have observed and taken notes, you should observe again if possible. By doing so, you will better understand what you are observing and will be more likely to notice small details.
- For example, if you are watching someone teach something, ask if you can observe it again. On that second occasion, pay more attention to the interactions the teacher has with the students, the things he says, and how he organizes his desk and papers.
- Identify repetitions in their behavior, thought patterns, or actions. Reflect on why they repeatedly take these actions, as they are usually done for an important reason.
- The more you watch, the better. Each observation will help you learn more about what you are looking at.
Part 2 of 3: Reinforce What You Have Learned
Step 1. Describe what you have observed
An important step in reinforcing what you have learned is to describe exactly what you have observed. If you do so, either in writing or verbally, you will be helping yourself to conceptualize what you have seen.
- Write a short summary of what you have observed. For example, if you have observed someone teaching, you should write a summary of how they did it. Be sure to refer to your notes when writing the summary.
- When writing your summary, consider mentioning something like, “The teacher gave the lesson while showing relevant images. Afterward, he handed out a brochure and guided his students through the instructions. Then he walked around the classroom answering questions and giving directions while his students worked in groups. "
- Talk to someone about what you have observed. For example, if you have observed someone teaching, talk to that person about what you have seen. Describe how that person taught and the things they have done that have been effective.
Step 2. Reproduce what you have observed
After you have described what you have observed, it is time for you to try to reproduce it. By reproducing what you have observed, you will reinforce what you have learned. Basically, by doing something, you will understand it much better.
- Make sure you have all the materials and resources you need to reproduce what you have observed. For example, if the teacher has used an overhead projector, a whiteboard, and a brochure, make sure you have those supplies as well.
- Make sure you have adequate time to reproduce what you have seen.
- Try to see if the person you have observed can be present when you reproduce what they have done. This way, it can guide you through the process. For example, if you've observed someone teaching, find out if they can be in your classroom for a day.
Step 3. Instruct others
The last step in reinforcing what you have learned through observation is to instruct others about whatever it is that you have observed. You will be able to better internalize and conceptualize what you have observed when instructing others. This is because teaching is one of the best ways to learn.
- Create a well-planned, structured lesson about what you have observed.
- Explain what you have learned carefully and in steps. For example, if you are instructing people how to teach, explain the basic principles and steps involved in teaching.
- Answer any questions that the people you are instructing might have.
Part 3 of 3: Educating Yourself About Observational Learning
Step 1. Read about the different approaches to observational learning
There are a wide variety of popular and academic books available that you can read to learn about observational learning. You will learn about the different techniques and perspectives on how to do it effectively by reading about this tutorial.
- Consider the article "Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change" by Albert Bandura.
- Read "Observational Learning: Evidence from Randomized Natural Field Experiment" by Hongrin Cai, Yuyu Chen, and Hanming Fang.
- Consider reading “Opening Doors to Equity: A Practical Guide to Observation-Based Professional Learning” by Tonya Ward Singer. Singer's book focuses on observation and learning in the education profession.
Step 2. Attend events where you can learn about observational learning
A great way to educate yourself about observational learning is by attending events where people teach or discuss different theories or methods on it. At these events, you will learn by watching other people and listening to them talk about their techniques.
- Attend educational conferences. Depending on the conference, they may have panels or speakers that will address the topic of observational learning.
- Go to the speakers in your area who speak on the topic.
- To find helpful events, use an internet search engine to search for "educational lectures" or "observational learning speakers." Look at the results to find events in your area.
Step 3. Enroll in degree-granting or non-degree-granting programs that focus on related issues
The most formal way to educate yourself about observational learning is through relevant classes at your local college or university.
- Consider taking a class in behaviorism, which focuses on observing human behavior and drawing conclusions.
- Programs that can offer relevant classes include education, psychology, anthropology, sociology, and science.