the social learning theory of albert bandura
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THE SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY  OF  ALBERT BANDURA. By Heidi Olson and Tracy Scott. Reflection. Using the polling tool: Select the best answer to this question: How did you learn to cook?     A. from watching someone (Mom, Dad, Grandma?)

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Using the polling tool: Select the best answer to this question:

How did you learn to cook?

    A. from watching someone (Mom, Dad, Grandma?)

    B. from watching Hell's Kitchen, Emeril, or Rachel Ray, or 

    __________ (input name here) on TV

    C. I don't know how to cook

    D. other


Using the text tool, type your response on the whiteboard: 

Think about a product you (or someone you know) have (has) recently purchased based on a TV commercial. Write a quick thought about what influenced you to buy the product. Or if the purchase was made by someone else - what to you think influenced them to purchase the product?

  • Answer True or False to the following questions:
  • I find I learn better if I repeat an exercise more than once.
  • When waiting at a cross-walk and no cars are coming I will wait for someone else to step off the curb first (to see if they get hit by a car or arrested) before following them.
  • Have you ever copied someone's behavior based on the rewards that you observed this person receiving?
The social learning theory of Bandura focuses on the learning that occurs within a social context. It considers that people learn from one another, including such concepts as observational learning, imitation, and modeling (Abbott).
This learning theory emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others.(tip.psychology)
General principles of social learning follows:

1. People can learn by observing the behavior of others and the outcomes of those behaviors (Abbott).

In his famous "Bobo doll" studies, Bandura demonstrated that children learn and imitate behaviors they have observed in other people. The children in Bandura's studies observed an  adult acting violently towards a Bobo doll. When the children were later allowed to play in a room with the doll, they began to imitate the aggressive actions they had previously observed (Van Wagner).

2. Learning can occur without a change in behavior. Behaviorists say that learning has to be represented by a permanent change in behavior, in contrast social learning theorists say that because people can learn through observation alone, their learning may not necessarily be shown in their performance. Learning may or may not result in a behavior change (Abbott).
3. Cognition plays a role in learning. Over the last 30 years social learning theory has become increasingly cognitive in its interpretation of human learning. Awareness and expectations of future reinforcements or punishments can have a major effect on the behaviors that people exhibit (Abbott).

4. Social learning theory can be considered a bridge or a transition between behaviorist learning theories and cognitive learning theories (Abbott).

The Component Processes Underlying Observational Learning are:

1. Attention - In order to learn, you need to be paying attention.

 2. Retention - The ability to store information is an important part of the learning process.

3. Motor Reproduction - Once you have paid attention to the model and retained the information,  it is time to actually perform the behavior you observed.

4. Motivation -In order for for observational learning to be successful, you have to be motivated to imitate the behavior that has been modeled (Van Wagner).

Cognitive Factors in Social Learning

Social learning theory has cognitive factors as well as behaviorist factors (actually operant factors). 

1. Learning without performance: Bandura makes a distinction between learning through observation and the actual imitation of what has been learned. 

2. Cognitive processing during learning: Social learning theorists contend that attention is a critical factor in learning (Abbott).

3. Expectations: As a result of being reinforced, people form expectations about the consequences that future behaviors are likely to bring. They expect certain behaviors to bring reinforcements and others to bring punishment. The learner needs to be aware however, of the response reinforcements and response punishment. Reinforcement increases a response only when the learner is aware of that connection. 

4. Reciprocal causation: Bandura proposed that behavior can influence both the environment and the person. In fact each of these three variables, the person, the behavior, and the environment can have an influence on each other. 

5. Modeling: There are different types of models. There is the live model, a verbal instructional model and the symbolic model. (Abbott).

Bandura identified the characteristics of the following models of observational learning:

A live model involves an actual demonstration or acting out a behavior. 

 A verbal instructional model involves descriptions and explanations of behavior.

A symbolic model, which real of fictional characters displaying behaviors in books, films, television programs or online media (Van Wagner).

How the environment reinforces and punishes modeling:

People are often reinforced for modeling the behavior of others. Bandura suggested that the environmentalso reinforces modeling. This is in several possible ways:

1.The observer is reinforced by the model. For example a student who changes dress to fit in with a certain group of students has a strong likelihood of being accepted and thus reinforced by that group (Abbott).  

2. The observer is reinforced by a third person. The observer might be modeling the actions of someone else, for example, an outstanding class leader or student. The teacher notices this and compliments and praises the observer for modeling such behavior thus reinforcing that behavior. 

3. The imitated behavior itself leads to reinforcing consequences. Many behaviors that we learn from others produce satisfying or reinforcing results.  

4. Consequences of the model’s behavior affect the observers behavior vicariously. This is known as vicarious reinforcement. This is where in the model is reinforced for a response and then the observer shows an increase in that same response (Abbott).

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A guy named Al playing a bandura

A guy named Al(bert) Bandura

Who is Albert Bandura?


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Social Learning Today:

"The social learning theory explains human behavior in terms of a continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral and environmental determinants."

        • – Tu, C.-H. (1999)

Sacha Chua: "A Teacher's guide to Web 2.0 at school [illustrated]"


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