Bandura’s Social learning theory-B.ED Notes

The Social learning theory was proposed by Albert Bandura, this theory focuses on the learning that occurs within the social context. The Social learning theory is one of the most influential theories of learning and development.

Social learning theory suggested that all learning was the result of an association formed by Conditioning, reinforcement and Punishment. Bandura’s Social learning theory proposed that learning can also occur simply by observing the action of others. This theory is also known as an observational learning theory.

Bandura’s Social learning theory

There are three concepts at the heart of the Social learning theory are

  • The idea that people can learn through observation
  • The notion that internal mental states are an essential part of this process
  • This theory recognizes that just because something has been learned it does not mean that it will result in a change in a behaviour

In his famous Bobo doll experiment, Bandura demonstrated that children learn and imitate behaviours they have observed in other people. The children in Bandura’s studies observed an adult acting violently towards a Bobo doll. When the children were later allowed to play in a room with the Bobo doll, they began to imitate the aggressive action they had previously observed.

Bandura’s identified three basic models of social learning / Observational learning:

  1. A live model, involves an actual individual demonstrating or acting out a behaviour
  2. A verbal instructional model, which involves descriptions and explanations of a behaviour
  3. A symbolic model, involves real or fictional characters displaying behaviours in books, films, television programmes or online media.

Bandura’s noted that external environmental reinforcement was not the only factor influencing learning and behaviour. He described intrinsic reinforcement as a form of internal reward such as pride, satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment

This emphasis on internal thoughts and cognitions helps to connect learning theory to cognitive developmental theories.

The  modelling Process/ Mediational Process of Social Learning theory

Not all observed behaviours are effectively learned. The factors involved in both the model and the learner can play a role in whether social learning is successful. Certain requirements and steps must also be followed.

The following steps are involved in the observational learning and modelling process:

Attention: In order to learn, children need to be paying attention. Anything that distracts a child’s attention is going to have a negative effect on observational learning. If the model is interesting or there are novel aspects to the situation, the child is far more likely to dedicate their full attention to learn

Retention: The ability to store information is also an important part of the learning process. Retention can be affected by a number of factors but the ability to pull up information later and act on it is vital to observing learning

Reproduction: Once the child paid attention to the model and retained the information, it is time to actually perform the behaviour child observed. Further practice of the learned behaviour leads to improvement and skill advancement

Motivation: In order for observational learning to be successful, children have to be motivated to imitate the behaviour that has been modelled. Reinforcement and punishment play an important role in motivation. While experiencing these motivators can be highly effective, so can observing other experiences of some type of reinforcement or punishment.

Educational implications of Bandura’s Social learning theory

Bandura’s Social learning theory has numerous classroom implications-

  1. Students learn by simply observing others, so we teachers are the role model for students we must be good at Mannering in front of children.
  2. Describing the consequences of behaviour increasing appropriate behaviour, decreasing inappropriate behaviours; this includes discussing the rewards of various behaviours
  3. Modelling such as attention, retention, reproduction and motivation provides  an alternative to teaching new behaviours
  4. Students must believe that they are capable of  accomplishing a task, it is important  to develop a sense of self-efficacy
  5. Teachers should help students self realistic expectations; ensure that expectations are realistic and challenging
  6. Self-regulation techniques provide an effective method for improving students’ behaviours.
  7. Teachers and parents must model appropriate behaviours and  be careful that they do not model inappropriate behaviour
  8. Teachers should expose students to a variety of other models. This technique is especially important to break down traditional stereotypes.


We can conclude from the above points, that Bandura’s Social learning theory is one of the most influential theories of learning and development. This theory states people can learn new information and behaviour by watching others people, this type of learning can be used to explain a wide variety of behaviour.


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