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Social Cognitive Theory

Social cognitive learning believes that learning takes place through a variety of different methods. Children learn through hands on experience as well as through indirect experience such as modeling others behavior in order to develop the cognitive skills needed to assess a situation and determine the consequences of their actions through proper analysis based on past experiences.

Combined experiences in life contribute to a child’s social and cognitive development and in turn directly influence their behavior. It is believed that by changing a child’s environment you can then change their behavior by helping them to master the skills need to become confident and secure.

The social cognitive learning model involves four components that are believed to contribute to a child’s overall cognitive development; they are psychological situation, expectancy, reinforcement value and behavior potential.

Psychological situation is the belief that every child interprets the same situation differently, leading to different results based on the amount of control the child has over their own actions and consequences.

Expectancy refers to the amount of probability that a particular behavior will result in the same outcome allowing a child to expect a positive or negative outcome for a specific behavior based on past experiences.

When using the social cognitive learning model it is important to reinforce the behavior with a positive connection in order to support the positive connection.

The reinforcement value is the reinforcement of desirable behavior in order to form a connection between a certain behavior and the attached consequence of a child’s action.

By forming positive and negative associations with certain behaviors, children are likely to sustain positive behavior while avoiding behaviors that are going to provide a negative consequence such as a time out or other form of punishment.

Behavioral potential is how likely a child is to participate in a behavior based on the consequences of past experiences. Therefore if negative behaviors are not reinforced with consequences a bad habit can become rooted within a child.

It is important to give a child the needed positive and negative associations in order for them to live up to their behavior potential.

Each child is different and will respond to social cognitive learning differently based on the amount of influence that the child believes their behaviors will have on the outcome and consequences of any given situation.

If a child has positive experiences and actions in the past they are more likely to make the connection between the behavior and the consequence whether it be positive or negative.



Social Cognitive Learning

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