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Social Learning Theory

Derived from Albert Bandura’s work, the social learning theory states that people usually learn within a social context and that this is facilitated through certain concepts, for instance, modeling and observational learning. In his work, Bandura proposes three models in which the observational learning can occur namely live model, where an actual person demonstrates the desired behavior, verbal instruction, where an individual gives a detailed description of the desired behavior and instructs the participant on engaging in the behavior; and symbolic model, which occurs through the media including movies, Internet, television, radio, and literature. The symbolic model involves a fictional or real character demonstrating the desired behavior. According to this theory, intrinsic reinforcements, for example, sense of pride, accomplishment, and satisfaction can also lead to learning (Coon & Mileterer, 2007). This paper discusses the social learning theory; the paper will also discuss three supporting articles and a critique and how the movie “Game of Thrones” targets this developmental level.

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One of the articles is titled “Bandura’s Social Learning Theory applied to a “How-to” Expository” written by Johnson C., Daigle P. and Rustamov I. This is a research carried out in 2010 which reviews a classroom observation of “How-to” unit from the first lesson of 8 to 10 day. Albert’s social cognitive theory was applied to an elementary magnet school. A “How-To” expository writing involves students writing a piece to give directions on how to complete a task. In their literature review, the researchers learnt that Bandura’s social cognitive theory revolves around three reciprocal interactions, namely person, behavior, and the environment. All the three factors influence and interact with one another. These interactions affect learner’s self-efficacy. They gave an example of a student’s (person) belief or self-efficacy in his learning accompanied by the teacher telling the student that he can succeed and that the environment impacts the outcome of the student in learning (behavior). Personal values, including self-efficacy, values, outcome expectations, goals, and self-regulation processes are critical for helping students to learn. In the study, the teacher first laid out her goals and expectations for the lesson which was to model the writing of a “How-To” make Friendship Soup. She said that they would write on a topic of their choice after she modeled for them. Attention, retention, motivation, and production are the four processes that must be considered under observational learning. If these fifth-grade students believe that the expository writing is of relevance to learning and their motivation will increase. The teacher stressed on the importance of the writing directions but intentionally did it poorly. The students were motivated to work in groups to produce better instructions than their teacher’s. Most students got different results and were noted adjusting and putting more effort to improve their performances. They self-evaluated themselves, and the teacher gave them freedom for improving on self-efficacy. The researchers concluded that Bandura’s cognitive theory was seen to support lessons that promote interactions, learning, and self-evaluation among peers. The fifth-grade elementary school students’ learning thrived in that lesson because their learning was supported through social cognitive theory (Johnson, 2010).

In another study “Self-efficacy & Motivation effects on online psychology student retention”, Irizarry (2002) discusses the implications of the social cognitive theory’s concept of self-efficacy, how it relates to motivation, teaching practice, and the retention of the online graduate psychology student. They note that few research studies had dealt with the theoretical explanation of specific learner’s characteristics aiding completion and success of online professional psychology degree. In this study, Irizarry (2002) compares and contrasts what other previous writers have written about this Bandura’s social cognition theory’s concept of self-efficacy as impacted by retention. The study found out that rapid availability and growth have led to distance education with insufficient practical validation which accounts for retention of online students’ psychology programs. There are certain student’s characteristics that were more conducive to resiliency and higher motivational levels. Those that have completed an online course before they are more likely to engage in another similar experience. Their success in completing such course depends on other variables, for example, self-efficacy. The concept of self-efficacy can, however, account for resiliency. The study suggested further research on the applicability of self-efficacy to the graduates’ psychology retention to help understand the characteristics of the online researcher. Also, more research needs to be done to differentiate between retention and characteristics of online students (2002).

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In another article, Flamand Lee studies some of the criticisms of the social cognitive theory. The article cites that due to the complex structure of this theory, it is difficult to totally implement it. Therefore, often, only the easily implemented aspects of this theory, for instance, self-efficacy are put into practice. Secondly, the theory focuses more on forming expectations and modeling thus ignoring hormonal and biological determinants. However, some psychologists acknowledge that hormonal or biological determinants can shape the way people make decisions and reason irrespective of cognition or past experiences. Additionally, many critics have noted the negative influence that television has on children. Since young children model their behavior through observation, it is thought that letting them watch violent TV shows leads to antisocial behavior replication. According to the study, many experiments have shown proof of this bad influence of TV; this has been a big controversial issue. However, there are many people who believe that the shows are harmless, which creates a gap for further research.

The HBO “Game of Thrones” TV show is one example. The show is based on fictional stories of the battles among kings and princes; it is also about how the personal choices one makes that are unexpectedly interconnected with harsh political reality (Boyle, 2012). There are seven kingdoms. The show is pervaded by sex, sorcery, and brutality with a lot of action. There is large use of swords and other weapons, bloodshed, and even deaths. This is an example of the TV shows criticized above. It has a negative impact on kids’ mentality and on how to solve issues among them. The movie could be made more children-friendly by omitting the harsh war and sexual scenes and incorporate better solutions to problem such as solving with dialogue other than fighting.

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