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Upon entering a classroom every teacher has the responsibility to teach their students to the best of their ability, using tools that are both effective and help each student learn to the best of their ability. One major component of those tools is the learning theory that a teacher uses in their classroom; this theory must fit in with the teacher’s personality, belief system, and approach to teaching. When I enter a classroom, I plan on basing my lessons and classroom around the Social Cognitive Theory.
There are several reasons why I believe that this will fit best for me as a teacher and my personality.
The Social Cognitive Theory is based on the premise that neither spontaneous behavior nor reinforcement was necessary for learning to occur. Learning could also occur by observing and imitating a model. This not only incorporates both elements of operant conditioning and information processing, and it emphasizes how behavioral and personal factors interact with the social setting in which behaviors occur.
(Snowman & McCown, 2015). It is often thought that the social cognitive theory is a middle ground between operant conditioning and information-processing. Operant condition focuses exclusively on the role of observable, external events on learning new behaviors and strengthening or weakening existing ones; whereas information- processing focuses nearly exclusively on the role of internal processing in learning.
As I was learning about the various theories, I reflected on my own personality and learning style, recognizing that I learn most effectively by utilizing tools incorporated into the social cognitive theory, most importantly using observation and imitation.
As a teacher it is logical to believe that I would be most effective teaching, using the tools that I relate most closely to. As a Christian, I also believe that this learning theory aligns most closely with my personal belief system. I am a cradle Catholic, meaning I was born into the Catholic religion and given the first sacrament at less than 4 months old, my life in Christianity has been based on observing and imitating the model of the church and those involved. As a teacher we are expected to be a role model for our students, as an educator who will employ the social cognitive theory in their classroom this aligns as the theory is based on providing motivating and positive behavior for the students; acting as Christ would want each of us to in order to provide that positive behavior for our students to imitate.
Albert Bandura is considered to be the founder of the social cognitive theory. His theory was initially presented as the Social Learning Theory in his book published in 1977. When this theory was initially presented it did not account for developing a whole range of behavior, specifically that as humans we have a lot of cognitive control over our behavior, and just because we have experiences we do not have to reproduce all behavior. As a result of this Bandura modified his theory in 1986 and renamed it to the social cognitive theory, which was previously defined. In researching Bandura I came across this quote, which I feel provides insight to his thought process thus giving a clearer vision of the learning theory; “the content of most textbooks is perishable, but the tools of self-directedness serve one well over time.” Building upon that quote, Bandura believed that there were three processes that aided in the learning process which came to be known as the triphasic reciprocal causation, simply meaning these three items were causation in the behavior of the student.
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