Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

The principles behind social learning theory as defined by Albert Bandura assert that learning occurs from observation, imitation and the modeling of your peer group and environment.   Social learning theory subsequently identifies human behavior in terms of “continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and environmental influence” (Social Learning Theory (Bandura), 2012).   As a bridge between behaviorism and cognitive theory, Bandura suggested that one’s behavior was not simply the result of the environment in which they are reared and reside in, but that one’s personality is influenced by the environment, behavior, and one’s psychological processes (Social Learning, 2012).  It is the interaction between these facets that essentially influence the development of one personality, behavior and subsequently the learning of information. 

As stated, the observation and modeling of interactions and behavior greatly influence how one learns and interprets information.  In order though for effective modeling to occur, Bandura identified four necessary conditions:  attention, retention,    reproduction, and motivation (Social Learning, 2012).  Attention and retention refers to the amount and quality of attention paid to a given situation or individual and the ability to maintain that information in one’s memory.  Meanwhile, reproduction and motivation relates to the ability to reproduce a given behavior or activity, and the overall desire one has to imitate a given action. 

In the classroom environment, there are number of ways in which educators can incorporate social learning theory into their instructional practices.  Cooperative learning is an instructional strategy in which students develop artifacts and gain knowledge through interacting with one another in a group setting. The MREL asserts that effective cooperative learning groups are: not based solely on ability, groups should be small in size, and should be used consistently but not as the primary instructional practice within the classroom environment (Pitler, et al, 2007).  

 As a result, cooperative learning groups offer a number of opportunities to incorporate technological resources.  One of the most common technological tools utilized are projects that include the creation of a video artifact.  Through the use of a rubric and clearly defined norms, students are able to develop a multitude of projects both inside and outside of the classroom environment.  Another technology tool that incorporates cooperative learning practices is web quests.  These scenario based tools allow groups to work on differing aspects of a common problem outside of the brick and mortar environment.  They challenge students to extend their learning beyond the concrete and engage in higher level thinking skills.  Again when paired with a rubric and norms, a web quest can become an extremely powerful tool for instruction.

Pitler, H., Hubbard, E. R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with     
classroom instruction that work. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Social Learning Theory (Bandura). (2012, October 1). Retrieved from Learning

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