A learning theory is a set of principles organized to explain how people gain information and increase their knowledge. I am more attached to the social cognitive learning theory (SCLT) that gives an insight of learning-adjustments in response to contemporary economic changes.
SCL theory is founded on principles borrowed from both behaviourism and cognitive learning theories, adding the perspective of social environment in defining the learning process. The SCLT has an explanatory power used to explain current sources of knowledge suggested in educational philosophy (Lowery and Lui, 2020). For instance, due to an ever-changing economic world, people need to develop problem-solving skills and new ways to complete tasks effectively. These skill-requirements have changed the foundations of learning from a content-oriented experience to process-oriented. Therefore, this theory is relevant in explaining the modern-day learning.
The Cognitive theory argues that learning occurs through complex mental processes that involve information processing for understanding and retention. Tolman as cited by Çeliköz et al (2016) argues that people are born with a natural curiosity that relates how people establish a connection between information about the environment and themselves in their learning. On the other hand, the Behaviorist approach postulates that learning occurs when compulsory behavior changes are acquired through association of stimuli and response (Kelly, 2012). This approach views people as blank slates with no prior knowledge of their environment and as such, interactions with external influences impacts on their knowledge. Hence, a combination of the two principles of behaviour and cognition from the theories mentioned necessitated the formation of the SCLT theory.
Learning as per the SCLT occurs when people acquire new information by observing and emulating persons perceived as role models in the society. However, this does not necessarily lead to behavior change. Navavi (2012) gives an example using Bandura’s findings from the Bobo Doll experiment; despite no reward or encouragement to the children, they emulated beating a doll from the actions they observed. Thus as per SCLT theory, while behaviour is vital in learning, it needs attention, comprehension and retention for learning to be termed as complete.
When explaining the principles behind knowledge acquisition, both cognitive and behaviourism give extreme viewpoints that are irrelevant to contemporary learning. The SCLT theory combines both extremes in explaining how learning is achieved in the modern society.
Çeliköz, N. Erişen, Y. Mehmet & Şahin, M. (2016). Cognitive Learning Theories. In Kaya, Z. & Akdemir, A. S. (Eds.), Learning and teaching: Theories, approaches and models (pp.31-45). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304176971_COGNITIVE_LEARNING_THEORIES
Kelly, J. (2012). Learning theories. Retrieved from https://thepeakperformancecenter.com/educational-learning/learning/theories
Lowery, B. R. & Lui, L. (2020). Philosophy, theory and principle. Module 11 (Apr 20 – Apr 22): Theory Summary & Sharing Knowledge Bases.
Nabavi, R. T. (2012). Bandura’s social learning theory & social cognitive learning theory. Theories of developmental psychology. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267750204_Bandura’s_Social_Learning_Theory_Social_Cognitive_Learning_Theory