Behavioral and social learning theories’ principles, along with their limitations


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Behavioral and social learning theories’ principles, along with their limitations

  1. 1. behavioral and social learning theories’ principles, along with their limitations Many theories historically have been attempting to explain the way human being learn things.Out of these theories are behavioral learning and social learning. The two theories have plentyelements in common and they are wide-apart in some areas. This essay will briefly summaries thekey tenets of each theory, stating some of their limitations by the end of the essay. As far as behavioral theory of learning is concerned, it stresses the importance of childrenmaking connections between experience and behavior. This includes two perspectives: Classicalconditioning and operant conditioning. In the former, an organism learns to connect, or associate,stimuli so that a neutral stimulus becomes associated with a meaningful stimulus, whereas in thelatter the learning in which the consequences of behavior produce changes in the probability that thebehavior will occur. Also, there are two ways for the teachers or parents to increase or decreasebehaviors of the kids in that they punish the misbehavior and reinforce the good behavior. When itcomes to application of the behavioral theory in the classroom, the teacher should use the operantconditioning to change human behavior. For the teacher to do that he/she should strive to increasedesirable behaviors and decrease undesirable behaviors. As to desirable behaviors, there are sometactics that teacher might use to achieve that; these strategies can be listed down: 1- Choose effective reinforces 2- Make reinforces contingent and timely 3- Select the best schedule of reinforcement (fixed-ratio schedule, variable- ratio schedule, fixed-interval schedule and variable-interval schedule) 4- Consider contracting. 5- Use negative reinforcement effectively 6- Use prompts and shapingRegarding undesirable behaviors, there are four tactics and it is recommended to be used in thisorder. These strategies are: 1- Use differential reinforcement. 2- Remove reinforcement ( extinction) 3- Remove desirable stimuli 4- Present desirable stimuli ( punishment) Unlike the behavioral theory of learning that sees learning as a habit formation, socialleaning theory claims that behavior is learnt from the environment through the process ofobservation. According to this theory, children observe the folks around them acting andbehaving in different ways. These individuals surrounding the kids are considered the models;
  2. 2. for instance, parents at home, actors in films on TV, teachers at school…etc. How doeslearning take place according to this theory? The answer is that children observe these modelsand try to imitate their behavior and while doing that process of imitation, kids try toreproduce the same behavior taking into consideration the gender; girls observe femaleswhereas boys observe males. Moreover, like behavioral theory of learning, social learningtheory also stresses the notion of reinforcement and punishment to increase or decrease acertain behaviors. If educators, embodied in teachers or parents, want to decrease anundesirable behavior, they use punishment and use reinforcement to increase a desirablebehavior. Although the theories attempted to approach the way human being learn throughconditioning and observation, they still have many limitations; some of which are the wholeapproach stresses external control of students’ behaviors and it should help students’ learn tocontrol their own behaviors and become internally motivated. This is because it is not thereward or punishment that changes behavior, but, rather, the belief that certain actions will berewarded or punished. Other weaknesses are related to ethical problems which might emergeif operant conditioning is used inappropriately. Finally, while applying behavior analysis,teachers might focus too much on student conduct and not enough on academic learning. Asto social learning, one of the weaknesses is generalization. This means that the theory ignoresthe fact that people are born with different genetics and the impact these genetics have onhuman behaviors. Also, when it comes to punishment, it seems that it is not plausible topunish children for an action they are not responsible for. The two theories did not payattention to cognitive side and its contribution to learning process. Finally both theories seestudents are passive and their learning takes place thanks to the environment they live in. Basically, the two theories, behavioral learning and social learning, have substantiallycontributed to the explanation of the way people learn. Yet, their attempts to come up withfeasible elucidations could not have been safe from many critics from cognitive learningtheories. Akharraz Mohamad