Education is by no means the least stressful event that occurs throughout our lives. From elementary school until university, there are so many expectations that are held. Not only are we fighting ourselves academically, but as growing adolescents, some of us experience unpleasant periods of rebellion, confusion, and even peer pressures or social alienation.
This week we paid great attention to the different issues and theories that undermined the learning experience. I have always been fascinated by Albert Bandura. To me, his name is as familiar as Sigmund Freud throughout my undergraduate psychology journey. He seemed like a very reasonable and intelligent man. I would love to have held a conversation with him and picked his brain.
If you can think back to most circumstances in your life, observing was how you were able to form ideas about the unknown. As an infant, we exist in the world to learn. We have no prior knowledge of what things are or what they mean. We rely on observation of those around us to learn the basics of life. Even as small children, we go into environments (i.e. school) were interactions with others are observed and encoded into us. First, we form the opinion of what is right and wrong by watching others that we see most similar to ourselves. Second, people respond to the imitated behavior we pick up with either reenforcement or punishment. Third, we observe how others are treated when they do the behavior and whether or not we should imitate it, which is also known as vicarious reenforcement (McLeod, n.d.).
These observations that we pick up can be in terms of educational content or in behavior as the way we treat others and handle situations.
This expands beyond school as well. Even as emerging adults and adults today, we still rely on observation as a main form of learning. Imagine landing a new job. During training, you are paired with an individual that management sees as a superb worker that represents the company in the best possible way. By pairing you with this individual, they hope that you will observe them and pick up their good habits and general understanding of how things work. This can be the same in educational settings. I remember, in middle school specifically, our science teacher was really good at pairing students for labs and projects. Our groups ranged from two to four individuals, but the complexity of material understanding within the group was always on varying parts of the spectrum. Our teacher was really great about finding films that related our information to things we understood. During different important aspects of the lesson’s learning, those who understood it best were able to have the opportunity to go in front of the class and explain or demonstrate to the class their knowledge and at the end of the semester, there was a prize you could win. It was nerve wrecking at the time, but thinking back on it, it allowed us to view the way the examples were given in the film, apply it, try it, and then share it with others. I would like to think that this is a subtle relation to social learning theory, but only in one small part of what it means.
McLeod, S. (n.d.). Bandura – social learning theory. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/bandura.html