Uploaded by Kevin Ibeh


It is not an over statement to say that man learns everyday,
everytime, and everywhere. This is because learning involves
a change in human behaviour. This change ,which is positive,
is necessary for the mental and physical development of man.
What rather appears to be boggling the minds of philosophers
and psychologists, over the years, and which they have tried to
understand is the nature of learning, how it takes place and
how an individual can influence the learning of another person
through teaching and other related endeavors.
Consequently, different theories of learning have been
proffered. One of these theories is Social Cognitive Theory,
which was developed by Albert Bandura in 1986. The focus of
this theory is that learning takes place through observation.
I teach in an international private school that operates both
Nigerian and British curricular. I use Bandura's Social
Cognitive Theory in my English language class. This is
because of my belief that students learn more not only by
observing their teachers perform a task related to what they
are teaching, but also by observing their fellow students
perform meaningful and rewarding task in the class,
particularly those of them that they perceive as being
exceptionally intelligent.
To this effect, I will, in this paper, show how collaboration and
motivation aid in teaching and learning by applying Bandura's
Social Cognitive Theory in my year 10 English short story
writing lesson. I will also show how students can work
together to achieve a desired result.The teaching and learning
experience that I will explore here happened some years
back when I was handling a year 10 class.
For an effective realization of this, I will look at Bandura's
theory, situating it in the context of other recent researches
and pointing out how I effectively used it in my English short
story writing. This will be followed with a reflection on the
implications of the theory to teaching and learning. It is with a
brief conclusion that this paper will come to an end.
According to Wikipedia (2016:1), social cognitive theory holds
that " portions of an individual's knowledge acquisition can be
directly related to observing others within the context of
social interactions, experiences, and outside media
influences". This theory was established by Albert Bandura in
1986. According to him," when people observe a model
performing a behavior and the consequences of that behavior,
they remember the sequence of events and use this
information to guide subsequent behaviours. Observing a
model can also prompt the viewer to engage in behaviour
they have already learned."
It is good to note here that Bandura's social cognitive theory
gained its conceptual root from Edwin B.Holt and Harold
Chapman Brown's 1931 book, which claims that all animal
action is aimed at satisfying the psychological needs of
feeling, emotion, and desire. Holt and Brown(1931) predicted
that "a person cannot learn to imitate until they are imitated".
Neal E.Miller and John Dollars (1941) revised Holt and Brown
theory, arguing that four factors contribute to learning. These
are drives, cues, responses, and reward. They went further to
state that "a behavior is imitated depending on whether the
model receives a positive or negative response
Bandura (1977) expanded the scope of Miller and Dollars's
social learning theory through a series of studies, known as
"bobo doll experiment." Through these studies, he
demonstrated the value of modeling for acquiring novel
behaviours.He argued that social learning theory shows a
direct correlation between a person's perceived self-efficacy
and behavioural change.According to him, self-efficacy comes
from four sources:" performance accomplishments, vicarious
experience, verbal persuasion and physiological states".
In 1986, Bandura renamed his original theory. He called it
social cognitive theory. He did this to emphasize the major
role cognition plays in encoding and performing behaviours.
He argued that human behaviour is necessitated by personal,
behavioural and environmental influences. Melissa
Hurst(2016) reflecting on social cognitive theory of learning,
said that the theory is based on some assumptions. The first
one is that people can learn by observing others. This implies
that learners can acquire new behaviours and knowledge by
simply observing a model.
A model ,according to him, is a person who demonstrates
behaviour for someone else. According to McLeod (2011), the
motivation to identify with a particular model is that " they
have a quality which the individual would like to possess."
Moving further, he said that "individuals do not automatically
observe the behaviour of a model and imitate it. There is some
thought prior to imitation and this consideration is called
mediational processes. This occurs between observing the
behaviour (stimulus) and imitating it or not ( response)."
Bandura proposed four mediational processes. These are :
attention, retention, reproduction and motivation. By attention,
we mean the extent to which we observe the behaviour.
Retention centres on how well the behaviour is remembered.
Reproduction centres on the ability to perform the behaviour
that the model has demonstrated. Motivation is the will to
perform the behaviour. Here, the observer will consider the
reward and punishment that will follow a behaviour.
The second assumption is that learning is an internal process
that may or may not lead to a behavior. This goes to say that
the observer may process the new behaviour, but his learning
may not be affected until a later point or never at all. Hurst
goes further to say that there is an assumption of goal directed
behaviour. Learners set goals for themselves and direct their
behaviour accordingly. In the class room, learners are
motivated by such goals as a high GPA, popularity with class
mates and so on.
Another assumption is that behaviour is self-regulated. Social
cognitivists are of the view that people regulate their learning
and behaviour. We also have the assumption of reinforcement
and punishment, which have direct effect on learning and
behaviour. People , according to Hurst(2016) "form
expectations about the likely consequences of future
responses based on how current responses are reinforced or
punished. People's expectations are also influenced by the
observation of consequences that follow other people's
behaviour". This is known as vicarious experiences. Again, the
non-occurrence of an expected consequence may also have a
reinforcing or a Punishing effect.
Saul McLeod (2011:2) observes that "reinforcement can be
external or internal and can be positive or negative. If a child
wants approval from parents or peers, this approval is an
external reinforcement, but feeling happy about being
approved of is an internal reinforcement.A child will behave in
a way in which it believes will earn approval because it
desires approval."
In my year 10, English Language class, I have 20 students. Out
of this number, 12 are boys, while 8 are girls. The average age
of these students is 14 years. Given the nature of the Nigerian
and British curricular that we operate in school, these students
are seen as freshers into the senior school curriculum. Based
on this, I consider the class as a very delicate one , as it is in
this class that solid foundation is expected to be laid for
students, not only in English language, but also in all the
subjects that students offer at the senior level.
Consequently, I perceive Bandura's social cognitive theory as
a good learning theory for me to use in my English language
class. I come to reason that students need a model whom they
can observe and imitate. Thus, a week before my English short
story lesson, I asked my students to visit the school library,
and read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's short story collection,
titled "A Thing around her Neck". In the same week , I placed
on the school Notice Board, reviews of Adichie's short story
collection from different literary scholars, highlighting with
my pen the various lines that contain their numerous praises
for her work. I made my students to read this too before our
short story lesson.
In my school, each lesson is 35 minutes. English language lesson is
usually given two periods of lesson, which is 70 minutes. I used this
double period to teach the lesson. The students, of course, have heard of
what short story writing is all about. But, nobody has taught it in such a
way as to make them write it. The usual fear that it is a difficult type of
writing is there. I started the lesson by introducing them to what short
story is all about and to the different short stories written by both
English writers and African writers. I used, mainly , Adichie's stories,
which they have read as my case studies. At the end of my introduction, I
asked them questions based on what I taught them. The students
answered my questions. Those of them that answered the questions
correctly were instantly rewarded. I asked the students to give them a
round of applause.
Those that did not get the answers correctly, were corrected. I, then,
highlighted the elements of short story writing, such as: introduction,
rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution as our areas of
concentration in the lesson. I made them to understand that they are
going to write their own stories. I divided the students into four groups.
Each group comprises five students. I made sure that each group has two
female students. I also made sure that each group has a group leader.
The leaders were chosen from those that answered my questions
correctly. They are to act as models to their groups.
I wrote four short story topics on the board and asked each group to pick
a particular topic and write on it. I made them to understand that each
member of a group should contribute in the writing of the story. I also
made each member of the groups to be responsible for writing a
particular element of the story such as introduction, rising action ,
climax, falling action and resolution. The leader of each group should
start the story after planning with members of the group on how to
create the story line,its rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.
Then he/she will pass it on to the next person, till every person in the
group has made a significant input, in relation to the part of the story
assigned to him/her.
As the various groups were writing their stories, I moved from one group
to another, going through what each student was writing. I ,here, applied
the reward and punishment methods stipulated in Bandura's social
cognitive theory. I praised the students that were contributing
meaningfully to the development of their stories, and cautioned those
that were not making much input in the stories. I noticed that each time I
praised a student's writing, the student would be happy and the next
student that would write would like to be like the previous writer by
imitating his/her style of writing.
Towards the end of the lesson, I collected the stories written by the four
groups and read each before the class. I asked the students to assess
each story that we read. Their contributions were marvelous. They made
positive and negative comments on each story that we read in the class.
As this was going on, I observed the facial appearances of members of
each group as their fellow students analyze both the content and style of
their stories. I noticed that they always smile whenever positive
comment was made about their work and frown whenever negative
comment was made.
I made them to understand their strength in short story writing and
praised them for it. I equally made them to understand their weaknesses
and asked them to work hard to overcome them. In the end, I thanked
them for their contributions and cooperations in the course of the lesson.
I have come to understand that Bandura's social cognitive theory is
significant and has a lot of implications for teaching and learning. My
year 10 English short story lesson has made me to affirm what Bandura
said in his theory that learners need a model to observe and imitate. The
learning outcome of my lesson, I must say, is rewarding. This is because
my students, who previously have not written any story of their own, can
now boast of having written one. They are no longer afraid of writing
short stories. They have come to realize that they can write it. Thanks to
the models that were made available to them and the positive
reinforcements enjoyed by their models for performing a certain
behaviour- the act of writing an interesting stories.
The first model that I provided for them to observe was Chimamanda
Ngozi-Adichie. My students easily identified themselves with her as a
model. The reasons are, first , Adichie's sociocultural background. She is
an African from an Ibo descent. As my students are mainly Nigerians,
they saw her as their sister, speaking to them through her stories. Some
of my students are not Nigerians. They are White children. They equally
appreciated her as a model they can imitate because she has spent
almost half of her life in their countries, specifically in America, living
and writing from there.
Another thing that attracted my students to Adichie as a model is her
age. She is a young woman in her mid-thirties. Bandura noted in his
theory that children are likely to observe and imitate models that are
related to them in terms of age and sex. This was evident in my class as
my students followed her writing behaviour because she is a young
woman. The girls in my class appreciated her more.
Another model that I presented to my students were their peers- their
fellow students. They were able to accept these students as their models
and group leaders because they have observed them in the past and
during the present class on short story writing , performing behaviours
that have been rewarded. They wanted to be like them. They wanted to
learn from them. When the group leaders were explaining the story lines
of their stories , they paid attention. They equally imitated their writing
styles when they were writing their own parts of the story.
Apart from these, the students were motivated to write their stories when
they noticed that I was interested in their stories. They came to terms
with the fact that since what they were doing was part of a class work,
that there must be a mark that would be attached to their writings. Since
everybody would like to pass, they have to work hard to earn the marks
to pass. This form of motivation is external. Beyond this,is the fact that the
students were internally motivated to write their stories. This was
achieved when I praised them for their input in the story writing and how
happy they felt as a result of that.
The implication Bandura's social cognitive theory has for teaching and
learning is that it makes teachers to prepare themselves well before
entering the classroom to teach the students. Teachers have to gain
proper mastery of the contents of their lessons and maker proper plans
concerning the delivery of their lessons. This is because they are the first
models that the students are observing their behaviours to know if they
are to identify with them or not. As Bandura helps us to understand ,
learning cannot take place, until this identification is carried out by the
learner. Teachers should be conscious of the fact that this identification
is not automatic. The learner has to undergo what is known as
mediational processes, which include: attention, retention, production,
and motivation.
Thus, teachers must always be prepared for their lessons and deliver
them in such a way as to capture the attention of their students to identify
themselves with them and what they are teaching. Students like to
identify themselves with teachers they believe know they are teaching.
Teachers should equally teach their lessons with instructional materials
that would make their lessons to be memorable before the students.
Moreover, teachers should use simple language and distinct
methodology during lesson delivery, to enable students reproduce the
contents of the lesson during text or examination. Again, teachers should
adopt reward and punishment methods in their lesson. They should
reward the good efforts of their students during lesson. This will motivate
the students to put more interest in the lesson. Teachers should also talk
to the students that are not doing well in the class and provide them with
a suitable model in the subject- area, whom the students can emulate
their behaviours and perform better.
Teachers should again make effort to build a high -efficacy level in their
students. They can do this by recognizing their accomplishments in the
class. As Bandura(1989:1175) rightly points out: " learning occurs if there
is a close identification between the observer and the model and if the
observer also has a good deal of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the extent
to which an individual believes that they have mastered a particular
Lastly, teachers should make use of audio-visual devices, like television
as parts of their instructional materials. This will aid them to show their
students some videos that contain models that can exhibit behaviours
worthy of inspiring their students to imitate.
From the foregoings, we have come to note that Bandura's social
cognitive theory which I applied in my year 10 English short story
writing, to a great extent , reveals that students learn through
observation, particularly when they are presented with models that have
achieved prowess in the desired area. They are equally motivated to
learn when they are rewarded for a good attempt made towards the
achievement of the desired goal.
It is based on this that I conclude by saying that of all the numerous
theories of learning, it is the social cognitive theory that can help the
teacher and the learner to achieve the behavioural objectives of