Learning Through Observation balance

Learning Through Observation

Social learning is a concept spearheaded by Albert Bandura. He believed that learning is can be experienced through mere observation. It does not necessarily affect behavior but it allows humans to know what to do. At the center of the theory, he posited that the internal mental state of persons must be taken into consideration.

If we were to learn solely from our own actions, that would detrimental because our learning process would be long and tedious. Traditional models of learning go through a process of conditioning, reinforcement, and punishment. Through observational learning and modeling, there are four parts of the process.

First, the subject must be paying attention to the actions being conducted. Anything that can cause a distraction will lessen the efficacy of the process. However, the novelty of a situation can help sustain attention. Second, the subject should be able to retain information. This is dependent on persons’ ability to recall information and how quickly they can do so. Third, they should be able to reproduce action based on what they have witnessed and remembered. Lastly, to encourage the behavior there should be motivation. There must be some evident reward that was observed after someone else had performed the action.

How does this affect the way we develop our skills? Whether we like it or not, we adopt behaviors we witness. With social media at our fingertips, social learning can take on a new shape where we learn from what we observe from it. There’s no doubt that there’s a heap of young minds trying to imitate influencers after seeing their lavish lifestyles and the perks they receive from companies that want to promote themselves. Carefully curated feeds are made with the intention to imitate the normal image on social media.

In business, even in online practices, this can have positive effects on employees and the general internal structure. Informal methods of learning tend to fare better as they are heavily reliant on willing observation. Engaged employees who are devoting time to actively develop skills will be efficient workers. If companies can keep their internal presence lively or retain some “novelty” employees can be attracted to the shiny new thing they want to play with.

This allows employees to take action and might even reduce training costs for companies. In smaller startups, this is particularly helpful as each member of the team must be disciplined enough to work on their own and still contribute to the organization as a whole.

The projection of company culture should be publicized on social media, not as a tool strictly for advertising, but to foster relationships between the internal structure. Connections on social media are incredibly valuable, if businesses want to attract the right talent, they should show them how they can learn from working with them.

This is how we learn acceptable social behaviors. Observing the treatment of employees under various circumstances will help us determine what is desirable behavior and what isn’t. We are able to make a judgment of what is tolerated and rewarded. Keeping this in mind, executives must be mindful about how they reward or tolerate employees’ social behavior. Special treatment is especially noted in the workplace. This model of learning requires those in leadership positions to lead by example.

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