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Social Cognitive Theory in Practice:

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Amber Schoer

on 20 July 2014

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Transcript of Social Cognitive Theory in Practice:

Overall, this lesson was successful. The teacher raised the level of rigor by allowing students to construct knowledge from the text by applying knowledge to their own lives and the world around them. The dialogue within the classroom allowed the students to share different, sometimes contradictory, views while still maintaining an environment of mutual respect and critical inquiry. By adding more explicit modeling and increased opportunities for self-evaluation.
The teacher of the observed 4th grade class uses two important components of Socio-Cognitive Theory. First, he recognizes the reciprocal relationship between environment, behavior, and the student. This is evident though the students' willingness to share their thoughts with their classmates openly and respectfully, as well as the students' ability to self-regulate as they take part in the learning process. Also, the instructor capitalizes on students' latent learning by creating the space for discussion. Students are able to build upon each others' ideas, and share new knowledge as it becomes clear to them.
Lesson Plan Redesign
Social Cognitive Theory in Practice:
A Deeper Understanding through Classroom Observation

Learning through observation.

One's belief about his/her ability to complete a given task.
Main Assumptions of Social Cognitive Theory
Social Cognitive Theory is as blend of Behaviorist Theory, which focuses on the importance of environment for learning, and Cognitive Theory, which focuses on the mental process involved in processing information. This approach views learning as reciprocal causation, or a cause-and-effect relationship, among environment, behavior,and the student.
The creation of a positive learning environment through modeling, the promotion of self-efficacy, encouragement of self-regulation, and the understanding that latent learning can take place, all allow students to learn most effectively (Ormrod 2011).
Evidence of Socio-Cognitive Theory in the Classroom
One's ability to control time and behavior onself.
When behaviors are demonstrated to students, modeling reinforces expectations through repetition while also allowing students to cognitively process the expected behavior. Seeing other students' response to the modeled behavior also provides reinforcement.
The person modeling a behavior must be competent, viewed as an authority on the subject, and able to "exhibit behaviors relevant to learners' own circumstances" (Ormrod, 2011, p.332).
Thus, the reciprocal relationship between environment, person, and behavior is reinforced through modeling of thought processes and behavior.
Self-efficacy is an important component of Socio-Cognitive Theory because one's beliefs about their ability to complete a task directly impacts the results of the task. Students' previous experiences with a given task may raise a variety of emotions and responses. Their mental state when completing the task is an important component of learning.
Teachers can create an environment where students feel confident completing tasks. This can be done through behavioral and cognitive reinforcements such as modeling and positive reinforcement.
As students get older, they become better able to regulate their time and behavior themselves. Consistency and specificity are key in the development of greater student self-regulation.
This self-regulation is both a cognitive and a behavioral process. Thought and behavior patterns must be established and consistently reinforced to develop greater self-regulation.
Evidence of Self-Efficacy Within the Lesson:
The instructor has clearly created a space in which his students feel confident in their abilities. This takes place through positive verbal reinforcement. For example, the teacher writes students answers as they discuss, then uses the student's name when he paraphrases a successful thought for the class. This observed positive reinforcement creates motivation and confidence within the student mentioned as well as within the observing students in the class. At the end of the lesson, the teacher listed all the specific ways the students were successful in their discussion. This consistent feedback bolstered student self-efficacy.

Students also felt more comfortable sharing their thoughts with the large group, because they had had practice communicating with others in smaller groups through the "Think, Pair, Share" activity. This practice provides important modeling of cognitive thought processes, and these skills can then be translated into the large group discussion.
Evidence of Self-Regulation Within the Lesson:
The teacher begins the lesson instructing students to share their ideas with their partners. This creates "co-regulated learning." The students and the teacher are equally responsible for the learning process (Ormrod, 2011, p.348). He then offers them advice: he tells them to allow themselves and others time to think before answering. Later in the lesson, the teacher paraphrases student ideas and pushes them toward a particular focus. This verbal modeling of his thought process reveals the importance of regulating cognitive processes for his students.

Also, the environment has shaped in such a way that students understand, and adhere to, the behavior and academic expectations within the classroom. The teacher has clearly taught the students the importance of self-regulating, for he did not have to refocus or redirect behavior for the students at all. They were able to govern themselves, and the group conversation, in a mature, respectful manner. The students' personal regulation shaped their behavior, which in turn, directly shaped their learning environment.
Developing more student self-regulation
While the teacher's debrief of the group discussion was important, and should remain in the lesson plan, students should also practice self-evaluation of their own as a part of their development of self-regulatory skills (Ormrod 2011). Closing the class with a brief reflective writing task could not only help the teacher assess what knowledge each student gained and their mastery of the learning objective, but such a task can help students evaluate their work and the work of their classmates. The teacher should also model self-regulating cognitive processes for the students. He sould not merely pass out reflective writing prompts. He should also demonstrate a self-evaluative thought process for the class.
Including more teacher-modeling
At one point, toward the end of the group discussion, the teacher asked the students to think about the discussion prompt in a slightly different way. He asked them to think about communication and its national and international importance. When the group discussion resumed, students continued talking about the same ideas they had discussed previously; they did not begin discussing the larger effects of communication. To help the students think more abstractly, the teacher could have offered an example and modeled the thought process that guided him to that result. This type of teacher modeling helps students' cognition, especially when the content is rigorous or difficult. There is a huge benefit to allowing the students to discuss and learn from each other, rather than from the teacher, but if the teacher expects deeper, more critical thought, he must first model it for his students.
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