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Social Learning Theory and Adult Learning

Social Learning Theory and Adult Learning


In this lesson, students will explore social learning theory and self-efficacy as it relates to adult learners.

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Source: Globe, Clker,; Thinking Person, Clker,; Garden, MorgueFile,; Blue Men, Pixabay,; Albert Bandura, Wikimedia Commons,

Video Transcription

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Hello there and welcome. Today we're going to review Albert Bandura's social learning theory and also self-efficacy. We're going to look at social learning theory as it applies to the adult learner. So let's get started.

I recently hired a few teenagers from the neighborhood to come over to my house and help me with some yard work. One of the jobs I needed help with was spreading mulch in the beds. I can be a little fussy about yard work, so I pointed things out along the way for them to look for and little tricks and shortcuts to make the job more efficient. We joked, we laughed, we had lunch and got the job done, and it looked great.

A few days later, I got a call from my buddy whose son was one of my helpers. He too was mulching his beds and his son was of course helping him out. Apparently, the boy kept correcting his father on how to mulch and taking extreme pride in his work. There you have it. Social learning and yard work.

There are many different theories that focus on learning and the acquisition of new skills and behaviors. Among the most widely accepted ones is Bandura's social learning theory. Developed by Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura, social learning theory can be described as one of the most effective ways of learning. His contention is that learning takes place by watching, observing, and modeling for others. His theory is directly related to the development and training of teachers and educators.

Social learning theory, as the name implies, capitalizes on our social interactions, emphasising the importance of observing and modeling behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Teachers who work collaboratively, observe, and model their learning will develop a sense of self-efficacy, which is the foundation for teacher growth and development. Bandura stated that self-efficacy is the belief in your ability to accomplish your goal.

For educators, self-efficacy requires training and support and is critical to the successful functioning of site-based management. Individuals need to come together to build capacity, implement change, impact improvements, and sustain efforts that support continuous improvement.

As mentioned in the previous slide, according to Bandura, self-efficacy is one's belief in their ability to complete tasks and reach goals. He believes that self-efficacy provides the foundation for human motivation, well-being, and personal accomplishment. These characteristics are extremely important to the success of functioning a site-based management system in schools and districts who are trying to build capacity, implement change, and sustain continuous improvement efforts.

We have all had the experience of watching someone model behavior and learn from it. It doesn't matter if it's skiing, bowling, or using an iPad. You observe and you feel like you may have the same ability and will adopt the same behavior and or attitude to achieve your goal. That's self-efficacy. And one is more likely to try new ideas, take on challenges, and accomplish difficult tasks if they have it.

It makes perfect sense to use social learning theory when training teachers because self-efficacy will be supported through modeling and observation of learning. It happens every day. In classrooms, when teachers model concepts they want their students to learn, they watch and observe teachers as they demonstrate and then make their own attempt at it. Adults are no different. We too learn from what we see.

Collaborative learning and group work also reinforce the key elements of Bandura's social learning theory. When learners work together, they are very likely to watch and model the examples around them.

If you work in a school that uses positive behavior interventions strategies, also known as PBIS, you have certainly seen teachers use social learning theory. As a way of introducing appropriate behaviors to students, teachers model expectations for them. For example, cafeteria or bus behavior. Bathroom and hallway expectations. Some schools even set up expectation stations that students visit to see others model appropriate behaviors.

Another place where you'll see social learning theory in action is when teachers are working in peer-to-peer and collaborative learning situations. The more we can get teachers interacting professionally with one another, the more professional growth will occur. Observations and modeling can be a big part of this, which is why you will often see them included in many coaching models.

So it's time to go ahead and summarize this lesson. We started by examining Albert Bandura's social learning theory. Then we took a close look at his ideas about self-efficacy and how it contributes to school success. Finally, the topic of social learning in relation to adults was addressed.

Here's today's food for thought. I want you to think about something nonacademic that you learned to do as an adult. Did anyone model it for you? As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you might want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set.

As always, thanks for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Social Learning Theory and Adult Learning"

(00:00-00:12) Intro

(00:13-00:50) Yard Work

(00:51-02:02) Albert Bandura

(02:03-02:57) Self-Efficacy

(02:58-04:19) Social Learning for Adults

(04:20-05:06) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources

Summaries of Learning Theories and Models: Social Learning Theory (Bandura)

This website provides a clear and comprehensive overview of Bandura's Social Learning Theory.

Instructional Design: Social Learning Theory (Albert Bandura)

This site provides recommendations for putting Bandura's social learning theory into action.