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The human race is a social species, claim Marchant and Powel (2017), because it is important for them to engage and socialize. People acquire knowledge and skills that are crucial to their well-being through communication, which is a vital aspect of human life. The social learning theory seeks to provide a detailed explanation of the factors that make interactions important. According to the notion, people can gain skills and knowledge from one another during the learning process through modeling, imitation, and observation, respectively. Contacts between people and their immediate surroundings are necessary to accomplish all of the aforementioned. A teacher is always aiming to use methods that enhance not only comprehension, and concentration in enabling learners to benefit effectively from the learning process, but also the most convenient and comfortable way of passing knowledge and skills to the student. The social learning theory arouses a lot of interest from teachers.
The theory indicates that individuals can effectively gain awareness and experience by combining both the informal and formal approach in the learning process (Marchant and Powel, 2017). Through the informal approach, students can easily understand the reason as to how and why things happen in a particular manner, as exposure and practicability are experienced. The teacher is drawn to the social learning theory since through it the learner can understand the concept taught by the teacher.
The social learning theory goes ahead and encourages that in coming up with solutions, teachers should embrace each other in presentation of permanent solutions. In cases when teachers come together in tackling problems relating to learners, better and more efficient solutions can be achieved. The theory encourages interrelations among the teachers with the aim to improve their student's capability.
Leake (2014) states that the social learning theory is critical to teachers as the objectives of teaching are entirely attainable. During teaching with the help of the social learning theory, teachers can connect experiences in the world to personal experiences relatable to students and, thereby enhance natural comprehension of the concepts in question. The learner can relate easily to a concept explained in a manner that enables him to reflect on a personal experience. In fact, the theory under discussion breaks the boundaries between the teachers and their students, which results in better understanding and cooperation among the participants.
According to Leake (2014), the social learning theory is important to teachers as it assists them in understanding of students' perspective. You find that when explaining a phenomenon, teachers are most likely to consider the aspects in their view and also try to elaborate the particular events in the learners view for easy understanding. The social learning theory exposes teachers to the various perspectives of their learners in attempts to enable teachers to understand how students perceive ideas and approaches. Additionally, it is important as it permits the teacher to have the capacity of a guide to the learner. The educator in the above situation is required to provide an environment for the learner that helps the student test their understanding. By testing their knowledge, the student easily concludes some parts not understood and seeks necessary help from his/her teacher. Thus, the theory assists the teacher in knowing what the learner has learned and where the learner has trouble.
The social learning theory has a lot to teach to the various parties interested in its use. The teacher, for instance, can make the students acquire more interest in whatever they are shown as it plays a significant role in shaping their education. Gaining more curiosity in their studies means that the students take an active part in their education.
The social learning theory entails individual components (Marchant and Powel, 2017). The first element is a community whereby people in a particular setting that make up a community consider learning. As a rule, the community's identity lies in the fact that they all share common interests. Thus, the members of a particular community participate in activities that lead to sharing of information, offering assistance to each other, and establishing strong relationships among the members in attempts to promote learning in the community. The abovementioned indicates that for a teacher to achieve the objective of learning, he should ensure that the classroom setting appears to be that of a community. The teacher must bring together students who are united in their quest for education. Under these circumstances, the students will interact with one another closely, share the various ideas amongst themselves, and hence promote learning.
The other component of the theory is practice. It includes participation of members in shared practice by ensuring the sharing of resources in coming up with the various solutions to specific problems they face (Marchant and Powel 2017). The members are to implement the new ideas with others and provide the participation of all. The social learning theory is an all-inclusive affair. It emphasizes that all members must be included in problem-solving and decision-making processes. As a result of members' inclusion around the community, learning is achieved as ideas are not only shared but also implemented by a community from their members' proposals.
The third component of the social theory is behaviorism. Behaviorism explains that learning is acquired through the various experiences (Siemens, 2014). The experiences are mostly of an external nature; consequently, learning is achieved by experiencing what other individuals do. Drawing on the example of a medical student, learning begins with the studying of theoretical concepts in a school setting, then followed by workplace learning where they acquire experience as well. It is worth noting that studying through experience propels the various professionals to greater helms in their specific careers. The three above components of the social learning theory help us arrive at certain conclusions of Siemens (2014). The first conclusion is that education brings about a change in the behavior of individuals. The second conclusion leads to that education can be attained through the informal approaches than the formal ones. For instance, achievement of learning is possible through experiences and behavioral observation.
Teachers relate to the social learning theory in some ways. For example, teachers of particular subjects of social studies face similar challenges. The teachers can initiate a forum where they come together and discuss the issues they deal with concerning the subjects they teach. By them coming together and brainstorming on the problems at hand, they will be able to arrive at better solutions. Teachers also refer to the necessary thing in learning according to which they must undergo a teacher's practice at a local school first before actually graduating to be a teacher. The training aims at ensuring that the prospective teachers familiarize themselves with the industry before joining it. The social learning theory is also found in the media ("Social Learning Theory in Media," 2017). The media, for instance, can promote certain practices in society through advertising of television commercials. It is evident that ads have resulted in changes in behavior to its target audience. For example, whenever a Colgate commercial comes on TV, most individuals admire the teeth of the person in the advertisement. Taking into consideration the above, it is natural that most people desire that the teeth look like the model's ones. Hence, they shall end up purchasing the product. What has occurred is that the advertising manipulates the behavior of the prospective consumer towards a particular action favoring the advertisement. The media also through the airing of documentaries shows how certain people operate and as a result, characteristics by viewers are likely to be incorporated into the audience's behavior. The social learning theory results in positive and negative repercussions because of the news aired by the media. In the case where young children witness shooting incidences in schools, some of the children will shun away from such situations; others are likely to embrace the situation and contemplate on it at some point. The media through individual campaigns also does well. As an example, if through advertising a media house airs the importance of choosing good leaders to represent the masses, people electing good leaders as propagated by the media will result in good governance.
The social learning theory is still applicable in this modern day and age. You find that when anyone wants to learn something new in this era of social media, YouTube immediately comes to his/her mind. Having access to YouTube individuals aim first to observe different behavior than learning through observation. Other sharing avenues such as Facebook and Twitter have facilitated the exchange of experiences by individuals and hence promote better integration among people from all over the world. Following the above description, it is notable that the social learning theory still has meaning in day-to-day life. The theory's impact in the workplace has contributed to success and excellence. In the workplace setting, all individuals operate based on their experiences (Yardley 2012). Experience helps people approach situations differently and come up with solutions most suitable to the predicament at hand. Expertise in the workplace propels organizations to achieve success and dominance in the workplace.
The social learning theory helps individuals interact with each other. In a social setting, individuals observe the behavior of others and copy the behavior. For instance, toddlers start talking by listening to what the grownups around them say. As they progress, they learn how to take a bath and clothe themselves through observation. Individuals can easily copy some practices such as sitting posture and eating habits which are observable characteristics. The environment persons live around shapes them; a person is most likely a violent person due to the environment he/she was exposed to.
The social learning theory has faced criticism from various disciplines. According to Siemens (2014), some scholars have deemed the theory unsystematic; the theory is looked upon as poorly organized as its explanations are applicable and understandable. Then comes the question: is the cognitive process a necessary explanation of personality? The answer is controversial as the cognitive process to some extent explained the character of an individual and to some extent fails to explain the above. Also, it has been stated that learning theories are only concerned with the learning process at the expense of that which is intended to be learned.
Leake, M. D. (2014). Social engagements with contemporary art: Connecting theory with practice. Art Education, 67 (5), 23-30.
Marchant, G. J., Schoenfeldt, M. K., & Powell, J. H. The Journal of Social Studies Research.
Yardley, S., Teunissen, P. W., & Dornan, T. (2012). Experiential learning: transforming theory into practice. Medical Teacher, 34 (2), 161-164.
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