Monday, December 27, 2010

compare and contrast Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory with Piaget’s Cognitive Theory.

compare and contrast Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory with Piaget’s Cognitive Theory. How applicable is the Social learning Theory to the Zambian Educational system.

Both Albert Bandura and Jean Piaget were psychologists who contributed greatly in the field of psychology. This implies that there are some similarities and differences between Albert Bandura’s Social learning theories with Piaget’s cognitive theory. On the other hand, their age group focus is not exactly the same and this also reflects that there are some differences between Bandura’s social learning theories with Piaget’s cognitive theory. Above all, this essay aims at comparing and contrasting Bandura’s social Learning theory with Piaget’s cognitive theory. The essay will also look at some of the application of the social learning theory to the education system in Zambia .

Piaget’s cognitive theory attempts to look at how humans are able to process the different mental activities.
The author himself was mainly interested in the biological influences on how humans come to know things. He believed that what distinguishes human beings from other animals is our ability to do abstract symbolic reasoning. Friot etal (1979)
In trying to justify what the cognitive theory is all about, Friot etal (1979) added to say that piaget’s interest in the study of the cognitive development started at the time when he was with Binet. These authors have reported that
while working in Binet's IQ test lab in Paris , Piaget became interested in how children think. He noticed that young children's answers were qualitatively different than older children which suggested to him that the younger ones were not dumber (a quantitative position since as they got older and had more experiences they would get smarter) but, instead, answered the questions differently than their older peers because they thought differently.
While Piaget’s cognitive theory was more concerned with the way humans process information and how they posses the ability to do abstract symbolic reasoning different from animals, Bandura’s social learning theory has more to do with the way humans relates to each other and the different social aspects as Akin (1999) says
… Bandura began to look at personality as an interaction among three “things:” the environment, behavior, and the person’s psychological processes. These psychological processes consist of our ability to entertain images in our minds, and language. At the point where he introduces imagery, in particular, he ceases to be a strict behaviorist, and begins to join the ranks of the cognitivists. In fact, he is often considered a “father” of the cognitivists movement! Behaviorism, with its emphasis on experimental methods, focuses on variables we can observe, measure, and manipulates, and avoids whatever is subjective, internal, and unavailable -- i.e. mental.
Both the social learning theory and the cognitive theory have a bearing on behaviorism because they believe that the environment of the pupil greatly affects the performance of a pupil in the different circles of life. “As a biologist, Piaget was interested in how an organism adapts to its environment (Piaget described as intelligence.) Behavior (adaptation to the environment) is controlled through mental organizations called schemes that the individual uses to represent the world and designate action. This adaptation is driven by a biological drive to obtain balance between schemes and the environment (equilibration)” Dewey, (1997). On the other hand, Bandura’s social learning theory according to Akin (1999) says that “in the experimental method, the standard procedure is to manipulate one variable, and then measure its effects on another. All this boils down to a theory of personality that says that one’s environment causes one’s behavior. Thereby proving to the assertion that both theories have a bearing on behaviorism.
Both the social learning theory and cognitive theory involve some stages which can be followed. However, these stages are different in the sense that the cognitive theory has Stages of Cognitive Development while the social learning theory have stages modeling
The difference being talked about here is that Piaget identified four stages in cognitive development such that firstly, there is sensorimotor stage for Infancy, secondly, there is Pre-operational stage for Toddler and Early Childhood, thirdly, there is Concrete operational stage for Elementary and early adolescence and finally there is Formal operational stage for Adolescence and adulthood. On the other hand, Bandura was convinced at some point to establish that there were certain steps involved in the modeling process such that, they are also four in nature; firstly there is Attention when listen, Retention as second stage, where one has to retain and remember what has been paid attention to. Reproduction is the third stage which involves the translation of the images or descriptions of what has been learnt into actual behavior and finally there is Motivation which believes that whatever we do there is something driving us to do so.
In both Bandura’s Social learning theory and Piaget’s cognitive theory there are so many contributions which have been made to the field of psychology. For instance piaget’s cognitive theory, there is a process of coming to know things and the stages we move through as we gradually acquire different abilities while in Bandura’s social learning theory, there are some contributions of which some of them says that we store events in through visual images and through verbal codes as we process the different information.
While Piaget’s cognitive theory starts from childhood from the birth point to old hood or up to the adult age or death point, Bandura’s social learning theory is more concerned with the adults not necessarily from the maternity ward. This is because some of the concepts which apply in the school setting cannot be applied to the infants in the cognitive theory
Although both theories can be applied in the school setting the social learning theory is more clearly and apprehendable than the cognitive theory. Piaget’s cognitive theory can be applied especially in the pre-school and primary programs while Bandura’s social learning theory can be applied at any level of education in the Zambian schools. But above all, both theories can be applied in the Zambian education system for many kinds of learning’s such as in the guided learning, discovery learning and others which support the development and boosting the interests of the child.
The stages in the social learning theory are more appealing in the school or classroom setting in the Zambian domain. For instance, stage one of the social learning theory in modeling, there is attention as the first stage. Attention is very important in communication circles. If a pupil wants to learn, they must pay particular attention so that they can easily understand what is being taught. There is no learning if there is no attention at school. Therefore, the fist stage of the social’s learning theory specifically modeling is very important in the education system in Zambia .
According to Bandura in his Social Learning Theory of (1977), he says that there are
Some of the things that influence attention involve characteristics of the model. If the model is colorful and dramatic, for example, we pay more attention. If the model is attractive, or prestigious, or appears to be particularly competent, you will pay more attention. And if the model seems more like yourself, you pay more attention. These kinds of variables directed Bandura towards an examination of television and its effects on kids!

The second stage of modeling in the social learning theory is very important as well. Retention does not only apply to a school setting only but it is important in all institutions of learning because after attention, one must be able to retain or remember what one has paid attention to. As stated above, this is where imagery and language come in because some scholars have argued that we store what we have seen the model doing in the form of mental images or verbal descriptions. Reproduction is also vital because pupils need to translate the images or descriptions into actual behavior and finally motivation, pupils in schools work better if there are motivating factors. Not only pupils in school, even in places of work, people work wavy well if there are motivating factors.
It can be concluded that the essay have critically compared and contrasted the two theories in a number of ways. The paper has also shown how applicable the social learning theory is to the education system in Zambia . Some of the similarities which have been discussed in this paper are that, both theories can be applied to the education system in Zambia . Both theories are products of scholars from the same psychology field though had different backgrounds. Both have stages and others. There were also a good number of differences which were discussed such as the nature of stages is not the same. Secondly piaget’s cognitive stages apply to every one from maternity ward to the grave yard while Bandura’s Modeling stages apply to adults who have the capacity to listen, retain and process the information.

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