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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Who Is the Best Observer?

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Who Is the Best Observer?

As a training faculty or workshop leader you can use this particular exercise in your training programs on observation skills, memory enhancement, team work, effectiveness improvement, personal and professional improvement etc. The exercise provides experiential learning. It is a combination of individual and group exercise.

You will need to make some prior preparation to administer the exercise. Prepare three trays of various miscellaneous items. In each tray fix 20 items of different descriptions. For examples these items could be a pencil, an eraser, a lip stick, a match box, a shoe lace, an electric switch, a whistle, a cigarette, a coin, a spoon and so on. Alternately take the pictures (photographs) of these items and assemble them randomly on a display chart or you can also project them on a screen (20 items together at a time from a PC or lap top computer through the LCD projector onto a screen).

Tell the participants of your program that you are going to show them 20 items (either in a tray, or on a display chart or on the screen through LCD projector). They should observe the items carefully and remember as many items as they can without writing down anything. After displaying the items for a minute you will stop their display. They should then note down on their note pads the items they remembered.

Now display the 20 items for 60 seconds. Let the  participants write down as many items as they can remember.

Show the items to the participants again. Participants should compare what they wrote with what is actually on the display.  They should tick out the correct items they listed, count them and write down this number of correctly observed items.

As a second round, tell the participants that you will now show them another set of 20 items. This time the display time will be just 30 seconds. However, this time they should be ready with their pad and pencil and they can jot down the names of the items on their note pads as they go on observing them.

Ask the participants to count the number of items listed by them in the second round of observations.

Now for the third round of observations, randomly divide the participants in groups, each group consisting of 4 to 5 participants. Each group will be asked to observe a new display of another set of 20 items for 30 seconds. Before actually displaying the items, give them 5 minutes for discussions on finalizing their methodology for observing and noting down the names of the items.

Now display the new set of 20 items on the tray for 30 seconds. Each group will observe and note down the items. One combined list will be made by each group even if the observations were made individually in the groups. Find out how many correct items each group listed.

Write down on flip chart or white board the count of observations made by the individual participants in round 1 and round 2 and also the number of observations made by each group after round 3.

Normally it will be seen that when individuals made the observations and noted them down simultaneously, they did better than when they just remembered what they saw without taking notes. This is so despite the fact that the observation time was 30 seconds in the first case as against 60 seconds in the second case.

Also it will be seen that the number of observations made by groups were more than what they did as individuals provided the groups worked out as good teams and decided on better processes for making the observations.

Lead a discussion among your participants on this basis. Establish that observation skills are important and can be improved by various ways e.g. making notes, other better processes, practice in observing and team work.

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