Social Cognitive Theory

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Social Cognitive Theory

Social Cognitive Theory
Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory is the framework for learning, based on

the relationship between behavior, personal factors, and factors in the environment

(Institute for Dynamic Educational Advance). Factors for social cognitive theory are

based on a social or physical environment. Social environments encompass friends,

colleagues, and family. Physical environments could run the gamut as vast as a particular

food, securing a room size, room temperature, consideration of classroom setting, or an e-

learning classroom online. The social cognitive theory explains the process functions of

humans and aspects of emotional behaviors. In understanding these behaviors, the process

of understanding behavioral change becomes clearer. According to Burney (2008), this

cognitive process provides a backdrop for humans to observe their environment and

others, using the information gathered to self-regulate their functions. Bandura introduced

self-efficacy as the center of social cognitive theory. As one of the most studied topics in

psychology, self-efficacy is one’s own belief in their outcome on succeeding in any given

situation, based on a person’s belief system of thinking, feeling, and the person’s

response or behavior (University of Twente, 2010).

As populations have become more diverse, the global educational area has grown

to encompass more students that are technology-rich (Gunter, 2007). As institutions of

higher learning seek additional ways to provide and improve upon existing educational

offerings, social cognitive theory is used as a means to improving learning and

discovering ways to increase the learning satisfaction of students. This is critical for e-

learning. Though technical advances and innovations are growing at a rapid pace, the

drop-out rate among traditional students continues to rise (Gunter, 2007).

The Impact of Instructional Immediacy

Gunter (2007) defines the impact of instructional immediacy as behaviors that

contribute toward building relationships and feelings of closeness in both traditional and

online classrooms. Gunter (2007) conducted a study, based on Bandura’s social cognitive

theory, to explore how the use of immediacy can improve cognitive learning while

reducing student attrition. The study consisted of teachers participating in a 14-week

online professional technology course. The studies outcome showed how various

interactions using instructional immediacy behaviors increased student motivation.

Consistent with the social cognitive theory, online status incentives, such as frequent

feedback, and social interaction were incorporated into the study to build a sense of

community among the teachers, thereby resulting in improved self-efficacy of the

students.

Self-Efficacy and Achievement in Online Mathematics

Academically, mathematics was one of the first subjects to foster computer- based

learning (Spence, 2007). Recent years have focused on e-learning in mathematics and its

courseware effectiveness. Models such as the teleological theory focus on the group,

whereas the social cognitive theory focuses on the individual. Student self-efficacy–how a

student thinks about his academic abilities – has gained in research attention and is being

used to predict academic achievement in mathematics. Linked to self-concept, high

achievement goals, and optimism, self-efficacy is used by confident individuals to help

them persist against obstacles by using coping mechanisms and managing their learning.

Another research using the social cognitive theory to examine online mathematics

(Spence, 2007), used 88 students from a traditional environment and another 76 students

from an online environment. Significant differences were found among the traditional and

online...
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