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
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
References: Burney, Virginia H. Roeper Review, Apr-Jun2008, Vol. 30 Issue 2, p130-139, 10p, 1 Black and White Photograph, one Chart.
Gunter, G. (2007). The Effects of the Impact of Instructional Immediacy on Cognition and Learning in Online Classes. International Journal of Social Sciences, 2(3), 196-202.
Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
Institute for Dynamic Educational Advance. (2010).
Jen-Her, W., Tennyson, R.D., Tzyh-Lih, H. (2009). A study of student satisfaction in a
blended e-learning system environment. Journal of Computers and Education. 155-164.
Spence, D., & Usher, E. (2007). Engagement with Mathematics Courseware in Traditional and Online Remedial Learning Environments: Relationship to Self-Efficacy
and Achievement. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 37(3), 267-288.
University of Twente. (2010).
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