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Educational Learning Theories: Chapter 3 Introduction

Chapter 3 Introduction

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Albert Bandura (1925- ) was born in Mundare, Alberta in 1925. He was the youngest of six children. Both of his parents were immigrants from Eastern Europe. Bandura’s father worked as a track layer for the Trans-Canada railroad while his mother worked in a general store before they were able to buy some land and become farmers. Though times were often hard growing up, Bandura’s parents placed great emphasis on celebrating life and more importantly family. They were also very keen on their children doing well in school. Mundare had only one school at the time so Bandura did all of his schooling in one place.

After spending a summer working in Alaska after finishing high school, Bandura went to the University of British Columbia. He graduated three years later in 1949 with the Bolocan Award in psychology. Bandura went to the University of Iowa to complete his graduate work. At the time the University of Iowa was central to psychological study, especially in the area of social learning theory. Bandura completed his Master's in 1951 followed by a Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1952. After completing his doctorate, Bandura went onto a postdoctoral position at the Wichita Guidance Center before accepting a position as a faculty member at Stanford University in 1953. Bandura has studied many different topics over the years, including aggression in adolescents (more specifically he was interested in aggression in boys who came from intact middle-class families), children’s abilities to self-regulate and self-reflect, and of course self-efficacy (a person’s perception and beliefs about their ability to produce effects, or influence events that concern their lives).

Bandura is perhaps most famous for his Bobo Doll experiments in the 1960s. At the time there was a popular belief that learning was a result of reinforcement. In the Bobo Doll experiments, Bandura presented children with social models of novel (new) violent behavior or non-violent behavior towards the inflatable redounding Bobo Doll. Children who viewed the violent behavior were in turn violent towards the doll; the control group was rarely violent towards the doll. That became Bandura’s social learning theory in the 1960s. Social learning theory focuses on what people learn from observing and interacting with other people. It is often called a bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory, and motivation. Bandura and his colleagues Dorrie and Sheila Ross continued to show that social modeling is a very effective way of learning. Bandura went on to expand motivational and cognitive processes on social learning theory. In 1986, Bandura published his second book Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory, in which he renamed his original social learning theory to be social cognitive theory. Social cognitive theory claims that learning occurs in a social context with a dynamic and reciprocal interaction of the person, environment, and behavior. Social cognitive theory posits that people are not simply shaped by that environment; they are active participants in their environment. Bandura is highly recognized for his work on social learning theory and social cognitive theory.