Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

The message from this simple analysis is clear: people interpret reality in different way ways. In Bandura's view, internal reinforcement is a potent force for enhancing or bolstering the mental states of individuals. Hence a feeling of pride, satisfaction and accomplishment helps both to enhance the individual's cognitive development as well as the learning process.

3. Learning does not always precipitate change in behavior. In other words, people do not always act like drones whose main features are to respond in a particular way when they are stimulated by environmental factors. This explains why some people behave irrationally regardless of whether or not that form of behavior is punishable or may have unpalatable consequences. In other words, human beings are not always rational actors. Thus sometimes they are influenced by their "head" to make decisions that may, to a very significant extent, go beyond the intricacies of basic reward as well as unpalatable punishments.

In the preceding sections, I have elaborately explored the social learning theory of Albert Bandura. Before leaving this section, I will briefly touch on the modeling process used by Bandura to explain his social learning theory. According to him, when using the social learning theory, a four-step pattern will be set into operation. These include: attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation (Bandura, 1977).

Attention in this regard means that human beings, as learners, generally notice things that occur in their environment. This means that, as learners, humans need to pay attention to the source of information in order to learn. Retention, on the other hand, means that people who are learners, more often than not, always remember what they noticed in their environment. Thus if a human being have enhanced capability to store information, he or she will learn more from the environment. Reproduction means that people sometimes attempts to reproduce those scenarios or whatever they observed taking place in their environment. And finally, motivation in this regard is used to explain the fact that people or the learner can be induced to reproduce what they observed in their environment if they are in favor of the consequences of the observed action or behavior (Newmann & Newmann, 2007; Bandura, 1977).

The next theory to be examined here includes the humanistic and the radical theories. This will be the topic of the next section. I will equally examine the connections among these theories in the following sections.

Humanistic and Radical Theories

An integral part of the humanistic theory is the belief that the ultimate goal of a typical human being is the desire to achieve personal growth as well as understanding. The humanist psychology thus seems to embody the view that an individual can attain a state of happiness by engaging in those activities that will ensure consistent improvement both personally and professionally (Elias & Merriman 1995). Hence the postulates of the humanist school clearly mirrored the fact that if a human being wants to be mentally healthy, then he/she must be willing and prepared to be responsible for the consequences of their actions irrespective of whether or not the actions could bring positive or negative outcomes. In addition, the humanists' believe system fit hand-in-glove with the idea that the "present" should be considered to be the most important aspect of every human being. In other words, the humanists' view resonate with the perspective that attaining stated goals and objectives "here and now" is more practical and realistic than delving in the past or engaging in activity that is perceived to be necessary for predicting the future. It can thus be inferred that the humanists' view about education revolves around ensuring that the educator do everything possible that will make the student to realize his or her potentials (Elias & Merriman 1995).

Abraham Maslow, who is one of the proponents of the humanistic theory, conducted extensive research in that area and was able to provide what can be considered to be both the best known and most widely discussed maxim in humanistic psychology. Among all Maslow's work, the one that contributed to humanistic psychology in a significant way is his needs hierarchy. In his explanation of this hierarchy, he noted that every human being has some specific needs. He equally stated that a human being can survive if, and only if, he can satisfy those needs (Maslow, 1971; Maslow,1978) .

The radical theories, on the other hand, is built on the foundation that education should be used as a means for motivating the students to partake in activities that will bring about significant social change. Thus the proponents of this school of thought believe that the purpose of education can only be achieved when it is used to raise awareness related to social justice. To this school of thought, empowering people to work for change should be the basic thrust of modern education. The message of the radical theorists is clear: educators are mere coordinators whose main role is to encourage positive action among the students so as to induce them to challenge the prevailing quo (Maslow, 1971; Maslow,1978).

The above explanations raises one interesting question: what is the connection among the social learning theory, the humanistic theory, and the radical education theory? I will briefly discuss this link in the next section.

Linking the Social Learning Theory to Humanistic and Radical Theories -- Implications to the Adult Educator

Central to the objectives of this paper is a brief analysis of the linkage between the social learning theory and the humanistic and radical theory particularly as they relate to adult education. Unlike these other two theories, the social learning theory stated that a typical human being generally learn from others through modeling, imitation or observation. However, by examining the key postulates of each theory particularly as they applies to adult education, it can be seen that they share one common theme: to provide the students with all necessary resources that will go a long way in improving their capability to effectively reconcile the educational process with their goals. This further implies that educators should apply several methods of teaching so as to grab the attention of the students with the aim of enhancing comprehension and making learning permanent. Specifically, it can be inferred that both the framework and the themes developed by the proponents of theories is focused on those areas that requires:

1. The educator to work like an expert who, by effectively organizing learning experiences, motivates the students to learn content and other forms of academic skills, as well as appreciate the ideology of democratic living;

2. The educator should create a democratic classroom that would allow them to listen to the voices of their students. This will, in turn, allow them to understand the students' thought process and design as well as implements lesson plans or curriculum accordingly.

The bottom line here is that, on issues of education, there is a common line that runs through the core tenets of the three theories. The central insight from their analysis seems to be that, since humans are social animals, an adult educator need to provide the students with both the core concepts of an educational program and activities that provide real world experiences.

Having established the theoretical foundations of Bandura's social learning theory, the humanistic and the radical theories, as well as the connections among these theories, I will now proceed to narrow down my analysis to an examination of specific applications of his social learning theory in the pedagogy, and practice of contemporary adult education.

Applications of Bandura's Social Learning Theory to Adult Education

Before discussing the applications of Bandura's theory to adult education, it may be worthwhile to examine the major characteristics of adult learners. According to Knowles (1980), the adult learners exhibit the following characteristics:

1. Adult learners generally like to be autonomous as well as self-directed. Most adult learners tend to display behaviors that they enjoy being free especially as it relates to directing themselves.

2. Unlike the younger learners, the adult learners have include those who have been fortunate enough to accumulate what may be termed a learning foundation built from life experiences, work-related activities, previous education, and family responsibilities. As such they always crave to connect the learning process to the knowledge based they have previously accumulated.

3. Adult learners are usually goal-oriented. They usually enroll in courses that adequately reflect their goals. It is thus not surprising that they generally covet and appreciate those educational programs which are well-organized as well as those educational programs with clearly-defined objectives.

4. Most adult learners relevancy-oriented. This implies that adult learners value the idea of seeing the reason for learning a new concept. To the typical adult learner, those concepts or knowledge which can be applied to their work or other responsibilities are more important in the learning process.

5. When it comes to the issue of practicality, the adult learners are the pace-setters. This means that the adult learners are often focused on those aspects of a subject…

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