Montessori always stressed the importance of teachers being close observers of their charges,  As in so many areas, she was a pioneer and her emphasis has been taken up by the Reggio Emilia and Te Whariki approaches, among others, and somewhat belatedly also by the UK Early Years Foundation Stage documents.

This importance has been confirmed by a study at City University (London) from within the business community.  Led by Professor Irene Scopelliti, the research involved three experiments on decision making skills.  These involved comparing observational learning with three other common and established  de-biasing strategies.

Key findings from the three experiments were:

  • Observing others was an effective debiasing intervention. In Experiment 1, the observational learning intervention improved decision-making by reducing susceptibility to all three cognitive biases: anchoring, social projection, and representativeness.
  • The observational learning intervention in Experiment 1 was also more effective overall than the instructional video and the control condition.
  • In Experiment 2, observational learning interventions were more effective than practice alone at teaching people how to effectively use advice, and the interventions increased participants’ advice-taking.
  • Combining observational and information-based learning was also more effective than the information-based intervention on its own in mitigating bias. In other words, seeing someone else use a decision rule had unique benefits for teaching that decision rule.

Whilst this work was carried out with adults, it does illustrate yet again the importance of observation, and uncovers another aspect of this.  For a summary of the research go to:,-Date%3A%20February%2011&text=Research%20suggests%20that%20observing%20others,to%20make%20better%20decisions%20themselves (which includes ajopurnal reference.

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