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Applying Principles of Observational Learning in an Art Activity

Observational learning is the type of learning that happens through the process of observation, retention and in the case of imitation learning, replication of behavior exhibited by others. Learning is done through copying or modeling the action of another through the observation of the said action. Psychologist Albert Bandura, the forerunner of the social learning theory, initiated seminal studies in this area (Westen, Burton & Kowalski, 2006).

The four key process of observational learning are as follows: (1) Attention- to learn through observation, one must take note of another person’s action and their consequences, (2) Retention- store in your memory what you have seen or observed, (3) Reproduction- being able to reproduce what you have witnessed or retained into your own behavior and (4) Motivation- having the will to reproduce an observed response.

Looking into the four key elements gives an understanding on what observational learning is. It is a lot different to mere imitation. The latter just connotes a person replicating another person’s behavior without any rhyme or reason. While in observational learning, one acts a certain way because they fully understand the benefits and consequences of doing so and are motivated by the want to acquire benefits or to avoid facing the consequences.

Such is applicable in ensuring that the elementary students or the staff I will be teaching will learn to put away the art materials in a class that I am teaching, without me verbally reminding them to do so. After every class, I could clear out the tables from the art materials that we have used, organize them in a designated area and throw the trash in the trash bins, such as the next day, we could proceed with our activities smoothly.

At another time, I would not be clearing the tables from all the art materials that we have used and leave them lying around for the next day. Of course, with the mess still in the work areas, we will not be able to proceed with the agenda for the next day, and I would be asking them for help in clearing out the area. Because of that, our activities will be delayed and they will be staying in class a couple of minutes longer than usual. With that experience, the class will be able to see the benefits of cleaning up and the consequence of not doing so.

The benefit to them is that they will be able to go home right on schedule and their activities for the day would proceed smoothly. Upon reaching the classroom, they will also be welcomed by a clean classroom which is very conducive for learning. The consequences of not cleaning up will be the opposite of what I have previously iterated: upon reaching the classroom, they will be faced with dirty desks they have to clear out, the itinerary is pushed back for the day and they will go home longer than usual.

My example then of clearing the tables of art materials would teach them to do the same and see the value of doing so because they have witnessed, retained in their memory and experienced the consequences that await them for failure to do the said action. That is observational learning in motion, which is definitely a very effective method of teaching students and influence behavior. REFERENCES Westen, D. , Burton, L. , & Kowalski, R. (2006). Psychology: Australian and New Zealand Edition. Milton, QLD: John Wiley and Sons.

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