Concept of Learning

Kaplan University SS124-29 Professor Missy Madden-Schlegel September 26, 2010 Learning is defined as an experience that produces lasting change in the mind of the person receiving the knowledge. Learning can be conscious as in memorizing scriptures from the bible and unconscious as in something happening without any deliberate efforts (Schacter et. al. , 2009). From an education standpoint, learning can also involve helping people by giving information that they can use in life. For the purposes of psychology, learning is considered a change in behavior.

In the case of Adam and Teri as described in the text, their learning occurred on the day their daughter turned one; September 11, 2001. They learned to associate the events of 911 to their daughter’s birthday present — the little yellow goal. This learning occurred unconsciously; something they obviously were not expecting. Sitting there on their couch watching the events of 911 enfolds right before their eyes, was a learning I am sure have stayed with them since that day. According to Daniel Schacter, observational learning is learning that takes place by observing someone (Schacter et al, 2009).

I am a visual person so this is true of me in regards to learning. I learn best when I am able to observe someone in action and allowed to repeat those same actions myself so my theory on observational learning is that it does occur by watching the observed. I imagine there are certain characteristics individuals will look for when observing someone. These characteristics can be anything from looks, the way they dress, intellect, charisma; even the ability to do something great like sing or speak well.

The observer will pick out the characteristics they are most attracted to and imitate that behavior. In situations where the observed is punished or rewarded for a particular behavior, the observer more than likely will choose the behavior that yields the most reward. So in the example of 2-year-old Margie and her 4-year-old brother, Rodney, Margie learned not to touch the stove by watching the punishment that resulted from her brother touching it. It was not necessary for Margie to touch the stove because she saw that it was the wrong thing to do.

She observed the negative impact it had on her brother when he touched it. If the results had been favorable for Rodney, I believe Margie would have imitated whatever her brother did. In looking at how observational learning occurs in regards to the Bobo experiment, I see that after observing the adult model behave aggressively with the Bobo doll, the children behaved in like manner. They too were very aggressive with the doll – kicking it, punching and jumping on it. This was the result of no direct reinforcement from anyone.

Bandura’s idea that for observational learning to occur one must give attention to the behavior, retain the observation of the behavior, have the motor skills to carry it out and also have the motivation to do so is true. • Give Attention: In order to learn something it is necessary to pay attention to what is going on. It is important for the observer to identify with some characteristics of the observed as I mentioned earlier – it makes it easier to pay attention and to retain the behavior. Retain Observation: It is also important to retain what is observed so it can be remember at some later time; especially if not allowed to repeat the behavior right away. • Have Motor Skills: The key here is that the individual doing the imitating will have to have the same type of skills or intellect in order to imitate the behavior. This is the reason the individual may not imitate the behavior right away and wait until a later date. They may need to develop their motor skills before doing so. • Motivation: The imitator will have to be motivated or have reasons in order to imitate the behavior.

The driver for this could depend on the reinforcement or punishment that comes from doing so. If there is no reason or motivation, the observer will not imitate that behavior right away. It may manifest later on in life or whenever the individual feels comfortable or motivated enough to display it. Mirror neuron plays a big part in observational learning. Mirror Neurons are defined as “a type of cell found in the brains of primates (including humans). ” Mirror neuron fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another.

This means the neuron “mirrors” the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself performing the behavior (Schacter et al, 2009). Since observational learning involves watching the behavior of another, mirror neuron basically mirrors the behavior of another, making the learning process easier to test. My dad was my hero as a child. He was the family’s icon and we all loved him despite the restrictions he placed on all of us. I always felt by being the oldest I was most disciplined than the rest of my siblings. At a time when most young girls wanted to be like their mothers, I wanted to be like my father.

My dad was very charismatic; he was smart and articulate. He was a disciplinarian but yet a loving father. He was well-liked and respected by all. I wanted to be like him. I observed how he interacted with his friends; the animated way he flailed his hands when he talked. I even mirrored his penmanship, which I have continued to do over the years. I hear a lot from people how much I am like my father.

References Schacter, D. (2009). The methods of psychology: Observational learning: Look at me. Worth Publishers. New York, NY. pp. 242-244.

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