Term Paper: Application of Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory in Humanistic and Radical Adult Education

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¶ … Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory in Humanistic and Radical Adult Education

As an educational theory that seeks to explain learning as a concept, the social learning theory is predicated on the notion that human beings learn by observing and imitating others who may be their peers, their relatives, or simply anybody around their vicinity. According to this theory, by observing the behaviors or actions taken by other people, a person can be induced to modify their behavior with the aim of achieving, or, in some cases, avoiding the experiences and consequences faced by the model (Newmann & Newmann, 2007; Bandura, 1997; Bandura & Walters, 1963; Miller & Dollard, 1941; Lien, 1999). This behavioral orientation, to a very large extent, is perceived by some theorists like Bandura (1977) to be the connecting bridge between not only cognitive orientation but also of behaviorist orientation given the fact that it often involves utilizing the mind only towards understanding as well as altering mental constructions is such a way that it reflects the actions of other people. Another reason why the theorists of Bandura's school of thought see the social learning orientation as a bridge of this nature is because it is also possible that the result that can emanate from observing or viewing the consequences of the actions taken by other people may or may not lead to a significant behavioral change.

In this paper, I will succinctly explore specific applications of Bandura's social learning theory in the pedagogy, practice and praxis of contemporary adult education. Hence a fundamental premise to begin this discussion is to make an elaborate examination of the key tenets of Bandura's s social learning theory.

Overview of Bandura's Social Learning Theory

Bandura's social learning theory elaborately emphasizes the importance as well as the relevance of interactions that occurs between people as being the most primary mechanism which enhances learning especially when such learning is based specifically on the subject's capability or subconscious willingness to observe others in different or similar social settings (Newmann & Newmann, 2007; Bandura, 1997; Bandura & Walters, 1963; Miller & Dollard, 1941; Lien, 1999). The observing part of the learning process, according to Bandura's theory, may include any scenario ranging from one that involves a student who relish in watching his or her mischievous friends violating rules and regulations in the school to the scenario that shows a fan who is watching his or her favorite celebrity that gobble sport drinks with gusto. In a situation where the student's friends who often break the rules with impunity are punished, the former will naturally and subconsciously avoid doing the same thing in order to protect himself or herself from similar punishment. In a similar vein, if it happens that the aforesaid celebrity was able to win a competition a few minutes or days after consuming the sports drinks, the fan will, in turn, subconsciously incorporate this into his mindset, believing that the consumption of similar drinks will be beneficial in a similar situation and hence be willing to emulate the celebrity's action.

Broadly speaking, three models that explained observational learning were discussed by Bandura because of his strong belief that they are relevant to learning via observation. The one he considers to be more relevant has to do with demonstration, or what may be called mimicking a behavior that was exhibited by role model. Specifically, this, in a very significant way, involves a situation where someone is willing to perform as well as incorporate a recognizable act into their mindset or schema. The second includes explanations and descriptions particularly those that were presented by way of verbal instructions. In other words, this model equally includes, but not limited to, all kinds of auditory communication or interaction. The best way to describe the third model identified by Bandura was that it involves the subject's willingness to explain behaviors observed in the media by using the books, films, as well as other material that shows the behavioral patterns of a character -- a character that may be real or fictional. It is important to note here that while people are aware that the characters they see on the mass media are not real, the action which such fictional characters take can have lasting effects on the individual.

I will now reinforce the points made above by noting explicitly that, according to Bandura's social learning theory, the act of social learning can be best described as one that comes as a result of observation and instruction. As such, it is very different from the type of learning which comes through trial and error approach. It is important to note here that it may, sometimes, seem that a child's behavior have change after observing an event. Nevertheless, the core concept of Bandura's social learning theory is that the child in question is not receiving any punishment or reward by observing the event, but is in reality invoking his or her rationality by first of all considering the consequences of behaving in a certain way and acting accordingly. In addition, Bandura's social learning theory also posits that the behavior that is being projected as a model may or may not be adopted by the individual observing the behavior. It is at this point that the influence of the cognitive layer begins to manifest. People tend to add whatever they understand from the consequences of other people's actions to their in-built or to their already existing schema. During the process of this addition, they will automatically be building a new model that will represent reality -- a model which, albeit new, may induce the individual or the observer to repeat the same actions over and over.

At is issue in this discussion will then be how to differentiate Bandura's social learning theory from behaviorism. As a way of showing the difference between the two, I will start by briefly clarifying the key relationship that exists between an individual and the environment particularly as it relates to learning. Going by the tenets of behaviorism, the environment is the main factor that determines the behavior of an individual. For instance, if a child who is painting on the wall of their house is caught by his parents, he will naturally be punished and his behavior will, in most cases, automatically change. In contrast, Bandura's social learning theory posits that rather than regarding the environment to be the sole determinant of behavior, it is more logical to infer that an individual's behavior is, to a greater extent, determined by the forces that results from the interaction between the individual and his or her environment. For instance, the child in question may have previously being present when his sibling was punished for painting on the wall and hence is very much aware of the potential consequences of engaging in a similar action. It is then up to the child to weigh the pain that he can suffer from the punishment vs. The pleasure that will be derived from drawing his favorite car on the wall of their house and then use this knowledge as a guide for making what is considered to be the right choice. The basic insight from this explanation is that while people can be the "consequences" of an environment, they can equally be "consequential" to their environment given the consequences of their actions and experiences.

To further understand the provisions of Bandura's social learning theory, I will present the core concepts that he used to build his theory. Perhaps the best way to gain this understanding is to state that Bandura's social learning theory is one that was developed from three main concepts of learning which are explained below:

1. People's learning capability is enhanced through observation. This means that people always learn when they interact or observe the action taken by their friends, relatives, neighbors, and so on. This learning process can be a conscious or an unconscious one depending on the prevailing circumstances. The basic insight here is that when people observe and interact with others, they learn from them. This will, in turn, induce them to make the necessary behavioral changes that will reflect their new mental constructs of reality. For the concerned individuals, the newly developed mental construct of reality will become the basis for making decisions regarding future action.

2. Mental state is the key component of the learning process. The implication of this is that even though people, regardless of their nationalities, often learn from the actions and the consequences suffered by others, that learning is often influenced by their preconceived constructs regarding reality. For instance, based on their individual constructs regarding reality, one person may be learn that he will suffer from a near-hypothermia conditions if he jumps into a cold water when on a camping trip. This knowledge will influence his actions in this regard. In contrast, another person who is also in that camping trip may be convinced that by jumping into the cold water, he will become more popular… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Application of Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory in Humanistic and Radical Adult Education.  (2011, April 9).  Retrieved July 16, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/application-albert-bandura-social-learning/5919337

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