Annick M. Brennen
Dr. Kenneth Morgan
EDPC514 Psychology of Learning
August 13, 1998

Social Origins of Thinking (Culture and Cognition)

The foundation of the social origins of thinking is that children learn skills, attitudes, and values by interacting with the community in which they live, and by observing and imitating a competent model (also called observational learning). Thinking starts as an interpersonal process and is then internalized. Albert Bandura was cited as the main proponent of social learning. Television programs can be used very successfully to promote learning. Television programs such as Sesame Street and Barney provide the evidence that observational learning is an effective teaching tool. Thus social learning theory attributes changes in behavior to observation and imitation.

In a multicultural classroom, teachers can apply social learning theory and observational learning by utilizing drama, role playing, and the demonstration of psychomotor skills. In a vocational setting for example, teachers can demonstrate how to set up a word processor to type and format a business letter. They can ask students to write down the sequential steps for producing the business letter and study the steps before setting up the word processor. They can also pair a vocationally competent student with a less vocationally competent classmate to work on tasks and master skills. They can utilize coping models. For example, they can ask low-achieving students who have mastered a skill to demonstrate the skill to the entire class. Computer-assisted instruction can also be used to help low-achieving students.