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Social Cognitive Views of Learning

Introduction

Social Cognitive theory is based on the ideas that people learn by observing the patterns of behavior of other people. According to Bandura (1986), Behaviorism is based on the notion that development occurs in time. He adds that environmental factors strongly influence the development. Environmental surroundings shape the behavior while reinforcement increases the probability of the desired action being repeated. Social Cognitive Theory makes an attempt to link up behavior, cognition and environment in order to come up with the principle that they operate together. Moreover, each of them exerts an important influence on the others. The individual”s actions, as well as those of the world around him, are interconnected. A teacher has to create a friendly environment for a student to ascertain the student”s behavior develops uprightly.

According to Bandura (1986), learning is not necessarily facilitated by reinforcement. He believed that behaviors, enacted by other peers, do reinforce students. Through vicarious reinforcement, the behavior of a model begets reinforcement for a particular behavior. Positive actions arouse positive emotional reactions from the observer, who in this case is the student (ReadingQuest: Making Sense in Social Studies, 2012). For example, if a teacher appraises a child for sharing a pen with others in the class, another child who beholds the situation experiences positive feelings and will do the same in the future.

Operant Conditioning refers to the effects of the consequences of a particular behavior on the future occurrence of that behavior. Both positive and negative reinforcement strengthen behavior, while punishment and extinction make it weaker (Nevid, 2012). Modeling and vicarious reinforcement are used for those students whose level of self-eficacy is assessed as low. It helps them learn from others and understand better, hence building higher self-efficacy. It means that students have the ability to learn from others. Models can be those of media sources or even interpersonal imitation. Bandura experimented this using a Bobo doll. Children were exposed to either an aggressive or non-aggressive model of the same or opposite sex. The researcher also included a control group. It was found that children who were exposed to the aggressive models later reacted aggressively towards the Bobo doll. Moreover, teachers play a role of models in students” acquisition of knowledge. Vicarious reinforcement involves learning from other peoples” behavior.

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Self Efficacy

Self-Efficacy is “the belief in one”s capabilities to organize and execute the sources of action required to manage prospective situations” (Bandura, 1986). It develops as a set of beliefs that people input in themselves since their childhood built encounters that they present in the form of accomplished tasks, experience variations, and encountered situations. Self-efficacy growth continues and evolves throughout a person”s life and new skills acquisition, understanding and experiences (Zimmerman, 2012).

Students with low level of self-efficacy avoid getting involved into challenging tasks. These students will avoid partaking in challenging mathematical equations. They believe that difficult situations and tasks are beyond their capabilities. Thus, a student will not get involved in the class researches because he believes that he is incapable of handling the task. Such kind of students focus on negative outcomes and personal failings they have experienced in their lives. If this student fails to pass any subject while being in the primary school, he or she will always stick to the fact that failing once means he or she cannot make it in that subject and will never develop any interest in it.

As a teacher, you need to identify the level of the student’s self-efficacy and further develop and enhance it. This can be achieved with a help of social persuasion. People could be persuaded to believe that they posses certain capabilities and skills (Bandura, 1986). As a teacher, you can address your students with low self-efficacy level encouraging them to continue working on a particular subject even if they failed it at their first attempt. Moreover, a teacher can involve peer models. Since students relate well to their peers, the teacher can create the learning groups, each of which should have the students with both low and high levels of self-efficacy. It is explained by the fact that the students with a high level of self-efficacy can motivate those with low level.

Amid other methods is the one of learning strategies offer. A teacher can provide the students with a certain plan of dealing with a particular assignment rather than letting them do the assignment on their own. Moreover, it appears reasonable to allow the students make their own choices. This can apply to giving out assignments while letting them decide on a possible due date and approach methodology. Frequently given feedback stimulates students for a well-presented task. However, given praise must be credible. The teacher can compare past and present performances for the same student, but the teacher should never make comparisons with others members of the group as this demoralizes weaker students (About.com: Psychology, 2012).

In conclusion, teachers have the duty of guiding students and steering them to success. Teachers should thus be observant and well conversant with students” capabilities and abilities and are to help them achieve success and goal. Self-efficacy should be encouraged in students to aide them reach their aims. This can be done by teachers whose work is to nurture students from very little ages and helping them develop.

Cognitive Views of Learning

Introduction

The Cognitive and Behaviorist theories make different assumptions about the learning and understanding processes. The Behaviorism Theory states that students act on stimulation (Bandura, 1986). Different stimuli lead to the students” response through their surrounding environment and life experiences. Actions and reactions are automatic and decisions are made through reflection and inference. The Cognitive Theory observes humans as people who make considerations by their own free will. Cognitivists are dependent on mental concept models and respond using judgment and reflection (Nevid, 2012).

In order to educate students, the teacher is to perceive a high response to stimuli and observe different behavior patters. A teacher may provide motivation for the students for a well done test and give rewards, such as presents. The teacher may try and use inceptive and vicarious motivators to help students get incentive to learn. According to Behaviorist theory, students are able to learn by building upon stimulus-response affiliations for skills, content and abilities. Cognitive theory is implemented in teacher”s helping students develop their cognitive capability to store, connect and recollect thoughts efficiently and effectively. The teacher has the obligation to develop the students” mind and mental capabilities, to enable students make informed decisions. It is a teacher who should use real-life examples that are easily memorized by students. This helps students understand the concepts and improve retention rates.

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If to compare Cognitive and Behaviorism Theories, the following assumptions can be made: the focus point of learning in Behaviorists is the stimuli found in external environment, while Cognitivists ideas depend on the peculiarities of the internal cognitive structures of the students. According to Behaviorists, the role of the teacher is to put the environment in place to elicit desired and correct responses from the students, while Cognitivists understand the teacher’s role as the one that is to structure contents of learning activity and allow the students make judgments and decision with their own free will. The learning process is viewed by a Behaviorist teacher as the change in behavior and environment in order to realize the desired responses, while a Cognitivist views the internal mental process, insight, information processing, retention and perception of students (Scribd Incorporation, 2012).

Procedural Knowledge deals with “how” a specific task should or should not be performed. This follows a certain procedure of doing tasks. Declarative Knowledge deals with “what” is supposed to be done. This knowledge begins with the person’s awareness of a strategy (Zimmerman B. J., 1989). Conditional Knowledge refers to understanding of “why” and “when” of a task. It denotes the knowledge of whether a certain condition under certain strategies might be the most effective. This one is considered by some to be the most important type of knowledge (Self-Regulated Learning and Academic Achievement: Theoretical Perspectives, 2001). Thus, it is viewed that Conditional Knowledge is more essential than both Declarative and Procedural Knowledge.

In conclusion, the teacher’s responsibility is to pinpoint the most effective ways to condition students brought forth through Behaviorism. The Cognitive Theory lays the obligation on students to control and direct their own mental processes. Students are given a responsibility to reflect and judge according to their own free will. Both Cognitive and Behaviorism Theories should be used interchangeably by teachers to ensure the students develop and understand well in the class. Teachers should have the ability to quickly observe students and learn their different characters while helping them maintain and improve the knowledge they posses. This will help students improve their retention rates and desire to learn. The teacher has an additional obligation to guide students and offer them Conditional Knowledge, which helps them in reasoning and understanding facts. The development of the above mentioned types of knowledge is essential for students as it gives them ability to judge different situations differently and make informed decisions. Teachers should outline themselves as models for students to observe and learn from.

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