Social Cognitive Theory

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Social Cognitive Theory

Behavioural theory doesn't factor us as being so Bandura extended on these behavioural view points creating the Social Cognitive Theory.

Social - learning from modelling and social context

Cognitive - thoughts, beliefs, expectations and judgements

Reciprocal Casuality:


  • beliefs, expectations, knowledge and attitudes

Physical and social environment:

  • resources, physical settings and other people


  • individual actions, choices and verbal statements

All are reciprocal as they influence each other 

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Learning from others: Bandura (1986)

Four elements of observational learning:

1. Attention

  • Pay attention to model - gaining audiences attention
  • Individuals are more likely to pay attention if model is attractive, successful and interesting

2. Retention

  • Model behaviour they want students to imitate
  • Students take in this behaviour

3. Production

  • Students match their behaviour to the modelled behaviour

4. Motivation & Reinforcement

  • Students will imitate the model believing that by doing so will increase their own chances to be reinforced (reinforcement strengthens ones future behaviour)
  • Direct reinforcement - praise / rewards
  • Vicarious reinforcement - watching other people
  • Self reinforcement - internal praise

What does observational learning help with?

  • teaching new behaviours and attitudes
  • directing attention
  • encouraging existing behaviours
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Modelling helps with:

  • directing attention
  • encouraging existing positive behaviours
  • changing inhibitions (giving examples to help support students)
  • teaching new behaviours
  • arousing emotions
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Self Efficacy and Agency


Efficacy - beliefs about personal competance and ability to produce a desired result

Agency - ability to make intentional choices, design and execute actions (more agency you feel the better the effect)

Self Efficacy:

  • situational characteristic - may feel comfortable in a certain environment but there is one small area you feel weak in
  • context specific
  • strong predictor of behaviour
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Self Efficacy and Agency

Four sources of Self-Efficacy:

1. Mastery Experiences

  • Direct success increases efficacy and failure lowers it: if you are comfortable or successful with something in the past you will feel more confident with suceeding in the future
  • Most important source
  • Strongest source in adults

Use moderately difficult tasks to challenge and engage pupils

2. Vicarious Experiences

  • Accomplishments are modelled by someone else: observing others successfully makes you feel more confident in suceeding, knowing someone else can

Use peer models to observe and learn from others that are suceeding - more confidence

3. Social Persuasion

  • A 'pep talk' or specific feedback will help improve self efficacy
  • Give meaningful feedback and encourage individuals

By encouraging group work means individuals can share different ideas

4. Physiological and Emotional Arousal

  • Emotions
  • Some thrive on anxiety some don't
  • Less important

Positive moods boost self efficacy and teachers can reassure and encourage students to try

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Self Efficacy and Agency

Greater Efficacy leads to:

  • greater effort
  • higher goals
  • findings new strategies

Those who are more confident can find new strategies when learning

Low Efficacy leads to:

  • task avoidance
  • giving up easily
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Self Regulated Learning

Self-regulation is an integrated learning process, consisting of the development of a set of constructive behaviors that affect one's learning

Factors influencing self-regulation:

  • knowledge - understanding self, subject and task
  • motivation - seeing the purpose within the task
  • volition - follow through and persistance

Those who are self-regulated in learning will have knowledge, motivation and vilition by their own choice.

Those who want to be self-regulated will ask questions.

Requires effort!

Four main parts:

1. Analyse the task

2. Settings goals

3. Engage in learning

4. Reflect on work

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Self Regulated Learning

How can teachers promote self efficacy and self regulated learning?

Assign complex tasks

  • achieveable yet challenging
  • engage students
  • provide feedback

Share control with students

  • choice increases motivation
  • choice allows students to adjust level of challenge

Assign tasks that are self-evaluative

  • focus on personal progress
  • emphasise process as well as product

Encourage collaboration

  • encourages co-regulation
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