Saturday, January 30, 2010

Social Cognitive Theory

Social cognitive theory (SCT) is widely credited to the work conducted by psychologist Albert Bandura (1977, 1986, 1997, 2001, 2002). Bandura’s theory is based on the premise that learning occurs through experience and that new behaviours can be learned by observing and imitating a model (Snowman 2009).

Social cognitive theory is the explanation of how people learn to become self-regulated learners through observation, imitation and modelling of others behaviours, characteristics and attitudes and the direct outcome of these (vicarious experience).

Learning is achieved through the interrelation between three factors, those being personal characteristics, behavioural patterns and environmental factors. The process of these interacting is called the triadic reciprocal causation (Snowman 2009).

Personal factors include mental and emotional factors and self-efficacy which is the belief in one’s ability to successfully accomplish a task.
Behavioural patterns include self evaluation and observation
Environmental factors include expectations, reinforcement and punishment

Modeling is “a general term that refers to behavioural, cognitive, and affective changes deriving from observing one or more models”(Schunk, 2004, p88). Modeling consists of three types of effects with those being: observational learning, inhibitory and disinhibitory effects and response facilitation.

Observational learning is the learning of behavior

Response facilitation no new behaviours are being learnt instead the likelihood of performing a previously learned behaviour is increased or decreased. An example of this is a lone person starts clapping at a performance, this encourages others around to join in. People already know how to clap but the observed person "facilitated" others' behaviour (Eggen 2010).

Inhibitory and disinhibitory effects is when a models behaviour serves as a discriminative stimulus for the observer (O’Donnell 2009). Changing inhibitions involves unacceptable social behaviour (Eggen 2010).

Modeling allows the learning of new behaviour, the facilitation of existing behaviours, allows for inhibitions to be changed and promotes the arousal of emotions.

Self-Regulated Learning
Self-regulated learners regulate their actions, cognitions, beliefs and motivations by selecting their own approach to learning and processing information (Shin, 1998). Self-regulated learners take responsibility for their own educational development by setting task specific goals, self monitoring progress and adjusting goals and strategies.

Social Cognitive Theory in your classroom
• Model positive behaviour for your students. Remember you are constantly being observed and as such you should be aware as to how you can impact on their behaviour.
• Use modelling techniques regulary.
• Encourage students in modeling roles.
• Build a foundation for self-regulated learning in the early years and include the development of self-regulated learning skills in lesson plans and goals.
• Use guest role models.

Social Cognitive Theory in the future.
• In the virtual classroom video clips can be used to apply SCT. Video clips can help the learner model desirable behaviour via the demonstration of others.
• Developed technology may be deployed to support self-regulated learning (Schraw, Crippen & Hartley 2006). For example White and Frederiksen (2005) have developed a learning environment to facilitate the process of student inquiry. The software has a community in which a series of advisors ‘live’ on Inquiry Island and are there to support and scaffold as students progressively learn. This program can help the process of modeling when the teacher does not have sufficient time.
• Interactive online educational programs that allow extensive repetitive practice and feedback allow the learner to gain confidence and mastery allowing learners to achieve self-efficacy.


Eggen, P & Kauchak, D, (2010), Educational Psychology, Windows on classrooms, Upper Saddle River, NJ, Pearson l, A, (2009), Educational Psychology:a reflection for action, Australia, John Wiley
Shin, M (1998) Promoting student's self-regulation ability:Guidelines for instructional design. Education technology, 38(1)38-44

Schraw, Crippen & Hartley, (2006), Promoting self-regulation in science education. Metacognition as part of a broader perspective on learning: Research in science education, 36-(1-2) 111-139

Schunk (2004), Learning theories: An educational perspective. Upper Saddle River, NJ, Pearson Educational Inc

Snowman, J (2009), Psychology applied to teaching, Milton Qld, John Wiley

White B & Frederiksen, J (2005), A theoretical framework and approach for fostering metacognitive development, Educational Psychologist, 211-223

1 comment:

  1. It is important to remember that with every theory there are limitations. When incorporating social cognitive theory into your classroom it is imperative that you take into account the following:

    · Social cognitive theory cannot explain why some learners attend to some modeled behaviour but not others nor can it explain why some learners don’t reproduce all the behaviours they have observed(Eggen 2010)
    · It doesn’t take into account the acquisition of complex abilities(Eggen 2010)
    · It doesn’t explain the role social interaction such as group collaboration, plays in learning (Eggen 2010).


    Eggen, P & Kauchak, D (2010) Educational Psychology Windows on Classrooms, Upper Saddle River NJ, Pearson