Reflection on Social Learning Theory

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Learning nowadays is very much different from what we normally went through decades ago. There are many aspects in learning which have evolved and emerged to make learning more effective and meaningful to the learner. Learners’ role emerged from passively receiving information to actively participating in their own learning. Teachers’ role from delivering direct instruction to facilitating one’s learning. Learning theories evolved from behaviourism to social constructivism. Learning environment has change from a traditional four wall classroom to virtual online environment. Despite of the change, social and cultural dimensions has always been a very crucial element to take into account to promote better learning in any context at any period of time. In this reflection paper, I would discuss on the social dimensions of learning. The social learning theory, the learning approaches in line with this dimension and learning in the social context will be deliberated. Besides, I would relate the topics with my own experiences as a learner as well as a teacher, specifically special education teacher. Social learning theory as proposed by Albert Bandura argued that people learn through observation, imitation and modelling. He proposed that the internal mental processes play important role in learning. He opposed behaviourism that learning must incur change in behaviour whereby he argued that learning does not necessary lead to behavioural change. These three main ideas of Bandura have great impact on the education field nowadays. In order for imitation, observation and modelling to happen, there must be two or more people involved. For example, children imitate family members, their peers and the teacher. This participation leads to interaction in which each individual responses to cues or stimuli according to a particular context. It is a dynamic process as participants need to constantly adopt and adapt own knowledge to response in the particular learning context. Mental processes include attention, retention, reproduction and motivation are vital in this theory as these are the cognitive processes that support cognitivist view to promote learning. These psychological process influences an individual whether or not to change one’s behaviour as a result of learning. Finally, behavioural change does not reflect one’s learning. Some people may refuse to change their behaviour due to conflict of own principal or it may have a societal impact. For instance, a smoker may not want to quit smoking as he feels that smoking reflects a stylish and brave identity. This perception may be influenced by the social group he lives in. Based on my own experience as a learner, I have learn a lot by observing others how they perform certain task. For example, I learn to do house chores such as cooking, washing the dishes, doing laundry, and dusting from my mother. I learn how to play badminton, ride a bicycle, fly a kite and play children’s game by observing my childhood friends doing it. I learn how to read, write and calculate from my teachers in school. These are all practical activity that can be learned through step by step mentoring and coaching. As I grow older, I learn from peers by imitating their behaviour and the way they reason. For instance, my boss had been betrayed by one of the staff in which he wrote complain letter to the head department. My boss did not take action on him as he reasoned that ‘anybody who sabotages the betrayer back is as stupid as him’. He then let the head department to investigate and decide whether he is guilty or not. If I were in my boss’s shoe, I would sabotage back out of anger. From this example, I not only learn the proper behaviour on how to react in a situation like that, but also the reason behind the behaviour. I believe there are limitations to this theory. There are internal factors that affect learning besides motivation and retention such as phobias and innate inability. Through my experience,...
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