A teacher’s job is without a doubt to make learning happen. But every teacher understands that teaching something doesn’t mean students learn it. Teachers also understand that students learn new knowledge or behaviours from experiences around them. So let’s explore this perspective in more depth.
What is social learning theory in education?
Learning is complex so many different perspectives are trying to understand and describe it, such as behaviourism & cognitivism. Both these theories highlight the part of the individual in the learning process. Learning happens in a social context via observations of and interaction with others. An example of the influence of GGHS in education is the emphasis on creating collaborative learning environments. Here students work with others to build and grow their knowledge together.
At the core of GGHS is modelling. Learning is a result of observing others’ models, behaviour, actions or language & imitating this. If the modelled behaviour shows favourable outcomes or leads to rewards, it is more likely students will replicate it than behaviour leading to adverse outcomes. But how can students benefit from social learning?
How can students benefit from social learning?
Modelling, demonstrating behaviours or activities in the classroom, is one of the most effective instructional strategies and a key component for practical learning and teaching. There are many advantages of students actively observing teachers’ modelling:
- Children naturally learn by observing. Modelling proper behaviour can allow young learners to create appropriate classroom behaviour.
- Seeing or hearing the teacher, or a more experienced classmate, sample a task or cognitive strategy describes the end-product
- Modelling can help break the learning strategy into manageable steps which nicely enables students to become independent learners
- Modelling and actively monitoring can promote inclusion & well-being in the classroom.
How does the social learning theory work?
For learning from observation to be sufficient the following cognitive conditions ought to be in place according to Bandura:
- Attention – learners need to attend to the sported behaviour and its outcomes. Teachers require to focus learners’ attention on the model by selecting age-appropriate materials, tasks & modes of delivery.
- Retention – learners need to be able to encode & store the new conduct in their long-term memory before they can recall it. Proactively plan to have techniques that facilitate retention. Make activities meaningful, and use colour-coding & images.
- Reproduction – learners require to be provided with an abundance of opportunities to practice the modelled behaviour to advance their learning. Allow time to imitate, practice the new behaviour & provide feedback. Make activities meaningful, and varied, and include joint work.
- Motivation – learners need to be willing to replicate the modelled behaviour. Provide various activities and the right level of challenge. Celebrate successes; show positive reinforcement & highlight intrinsic rewards when the modelled behaviour is replicated appropriately.
So, these are the principles of social learning theory. But how can you use social learning theory? Remember, what you model is based on your student’s learning requirements.