Essay: Albert Bandura’s Theory of Learning

Sample Essay

Bandura’s theory consisted of three parts which were observational learning, intrinsic reinforcement and modeling. Bandura highlighted three basic models of human learning through observations. The first one was a live model, which involved an individual demonstration or acting of a behavior. The second one was a verbal instructional model, which explained learning through descriptions of a behavior. And lastly, the symbolic model, which according to Bandura involved learning from fictional or real life characters displaying certain behaviors in electronic or print media.

Bandura also found that external environmental reinforcement was not alone in influencing learning and behavior. According to him, intrinsic behavior was a form on internal reward which could be pride, satisfaction or even a sense of accomplishing something. Through this emphasis on internal thoughts and ability to cognize, the theory can also be used to connect other learning theories to cognitive developmental theories. The theory also demonstrated that despite the belief of the behaviorists that learning can lead to a permanent transformation of behavior, people can learn new information without demonstrating any change in their behaviors. Also, that not all observed behaviors are learned in an effective manner. Factors that involved both the model and the learning individual could play a significant role in making a social learning successful.

The theory further explained the 4 steps through which the observational learning and modeling occurred. The first step in learning is attention. The theory of the social learning states that for learning, attention is important. Any distraction that would divert the attention of an observer plays a negative role in observational learning. Furthermore, if the model is interesting or has a novel aspect, the learning individual can be expected to dedicate full attending to the learning. The second step in learning is Retention. The theory also classify this step as important because retention of the learning can be affected by a number of factors, and the ability to extract information from the brain later is vital to the experience of observational learning. The third step involved the reproduction of the learning at a later time through the retention. Further practice of the newly learned behavior also leads to improvement as well as advancement of skill. And lastly, Bandura highlighted motivation as another important step in successful observational learning. He stated that in order to successfully imitate a behavior, one needs to be motivated. He also highlighted reinforcements and punishments as the two highly effective factors in changing the motivation of a person (Vagner, 2009).

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