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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chapter Three in Learning and Cognition - Social Cognitive Theory

Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) falls under behaviorism which is intended to explain why animals and humans act a certain way. SCT can be found everyday in the classroom but also simply at home. For example, in the classroom a teacher may use modeling to show a student how to complete a math problem. The student observes the teacher and watches what the teacher does. Then the student completes a similar math problem by modeling after and learning from the teacher. At home, a younger child observes everything and everyone around him. He will emulate anything an adult or older sibling does. The child learns from watching others.

The processes of observational learning are very important for a teacher to understand. Attention, Retention, Production and Motivation are all essential concepts for a productive classroom. The teacher must first gain the attention of the students. Then the teacher focuses on educating so that the student retains the information he or she is taught. The student is asked to create a product to show mastery of the assignment and the student must be motivated through the entire process to learn.

I truly believe in SCT and use in my classroom. I do use the hands-on approach to teaching and think that my students benefit from it. I also encourage them to watch other students and help one another. By observing their peers, they can often learn in a way that I may not be able to teach them. How have you used Social Cognitive Theory in your classroom? How about at home?


  1. Jessica I really like the way you explained observational learning. When I read i was somewhat confused on this concept but after reading your blog it helped me to see it a different way. I like how you explained Attention, Retention, Production and motivation. It makes it so much easier to picture it and understand it so much better. Thanks for that explantion.

    I totally agree also that a child learns by example. That is why as parents or educators we much always be mindful of how we act and what we say. Its so important that we set good examples!

  2. My daughter attended a Montessori school from 3 years old through 1st grade. The Social Cognitive Theory is a large part of the Montessori curriculum. As students are introduced to new lessons they are asked to join their teacher in a 1 X 1 session. For a 3 year old, the lesson might be to trace one of the seven continents and then to draw very straight lines within each of the traced drawings. There are at least three goals for this lesson: one is to introduce the students to the continents, the second is to develop muscle memory for cursive writing, and to develop hand\eye coordination. The student is asked to sit next to the teacher with their hands in their lap. They are expected to watch the teacher do the activity, then they are given a turn. The students are able to do this work independently when the teacher feels like they are ready. I use this approach at home when I am teaching my daughter new skills in the kitchen. She doesn’t like slowing down, but I have found her to be much more effective when we take the time to learn how to use tools properly.

  3. Renae Molden posted the comment above on Montessori education.

  4. I agree with you on the hands on learning strategy. I try to incorporate as many hands on activities as I can into my classroom. They students have so much fun, are attentive, and learn so much from it. After each hands on activity, we have a little discussion. They have so much to say because they enjoyed learning from it. I truly recommend that all teachers un hands on activities in their classrooms. =)

  5. I believe in the same teaching techniques when I am in the classroom. I always try to open a lesson with something that will catch the students attention, and then if possible give them a hands on demonstration and activity. Students learn better when they have the support from the teacher and their peers.

    At home I try to have my kids learn with as many manipulatives that I have in the house. Whenever I can give them a demonstration and let them demonstrate with the same materials, my kids gain a better understanding of the material they are trying to learn.