The purpose of this paper is to discuss a learning theory with application to a teaching-learning situation in health care. This paper will focus on the social learning theory and its application to the teaching-learning process in nursing. I will explore a clear definition of the theory and present the main concepts. Lastly, I will apply my knowledge of the social learning theory by describing how I use it in a health care setting when educating student nurses during senior practicum. Definition of the Social Learning Theory and its ContributorThe social learning theory suggests that people learn new behaviors through observation of factors in their environment, by taking note of other’s behavior and the consequence of that behavior.
Observing a desired result makes the learner more likely to adopt a behavior to seek that result. This does not necessarily mean that the learner needs a direct experience to learn, but rather just taking notice of another’s behavior they can learn by what happens to that person (Bastable, 2008). Albert Bandura, a Canadian psychologist, is known as the originator of the social learning theory.During his early research, Bandura examined the foundations of human learning and the tendency of children and adults to model their own behavior on behavior observed in others.
He found that “learning is often a social process, and other individuals, especially significant others, provide compelling examples or role models for how to think, feel, and act” (Bastable, 2008, p. 67). He termed this “role modeling”. Bastable defines role modeling as “the use of self as a role model… whereby the learner acquires new behaviors and social roles by identification with the role model” (2008, p. 34).
In his book, Social Learning Theory (1977), Bandura argues that most human behavior is learned through observing others and that it could be potentially hazardous for individuals to learn by relying only on their own actions. The social learning theory puts great emphasis on the learner’s personal characteristics, behavior patterns, and internal processing; as well as the impact of social dynamics (Bastable, 2008). Therefore, it is important to identify the learner’s perception, interpretation and response to the social situation in which they are learning.This can be particularly important in the health care environment. Learning and behavior occur because of the interaction of environmental and cognitive factors occurring within a social context by observation, imitation, and modeling the behaviors, attitudes and emotional reactions of others (Abbott, 2007; Ormrod, 1999).
Bandura (1977) uses a four-step approach when implementing learning consisting of four phases: Attentional , Retention, Reproduction, and Motivational. The attentional phase is when the learner observes the role model.The processing and memorization of the observations takes place in the retention phase. The learner performs the learned action or behavior in the reproduction phase.
Lastly, the motivation phase focuses on the learner’s motivation to perform the behavior depending on their perception of reward or punishment as a consequence. This is known as vicarious reinforcement (Bastable , 2008). Application of Learning Theory to Health care Setting As a Registered Nurse I have had the opportunity to be a preceptor to a number of nursing students.I take this role very seriously as I am aware of the impact that my mentoring has on the students’ learning experience, competence and satisfaction (Bastable, 2008).
I base my teaching and mentoring around the social learning theory. Bastable (2008) and Neary (2000) both recognize the importance of role modeling for students pointing out the importance for the experienced nurse mentor to exhibit desired professional attributes and behaviors as this is the first observation a student will make.At the outset of the practicum I want to be aware of the student’s personal characteristics, including their perception, interpretation, motivation and response to their own learning. I find out what their learning objectives and goals are and build on their current level of knowledge and on their previous experiences by asking questions and presenting the student with the opportunity to ask me questions. By doing so I begin building a rapport and trusting relationship in which the student can feel secure and supported.Seifert and Sutton (2009) state that most students value their relationships with their teachers and benefit from the positive support the relationship provides. I begin role modeling by having the student shadow me.
This teaches time management, patient care, rapport with staff, self-confidence, self-regulation, self-efficacy, self-evaluation, and competence. Throughout the practicum I observe and conference with the student to assess their retention and reproduction of what I have modeled, as well as any gaps in learning and give corrective feedback as needed.I continually assess the student’s motivation to learn, being aware that this is influenced by vicarious reinforcement. I show this through my attitude, job satisfaction and love for nursing by being positive, energetic and eager to work. My goal by the end of the practicum is to have taught my student these qualities all the while teaching policy, procedure, and safe and competent patient care. In conclusion, the social learning theory involves the consideration of the individual learner in the context of the social environment and the behavior to be learned.
It believe it is a “do as I do, not as I say” concept. Exposing my students to socially healthy experiences by being an exemplary role model is imperative to the success of my students.ReferencesAbbott, L. (2007). Social Learning Theory.
[taken from the University of Texas at Austin online http://teachnet. edb. utexas. edu/~lynda_abbott/Social. html].
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Bastable, S.
(2008). Nurse as educator: Principles of teaching and learning for nursing practice (3rd ed. . Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Ormrod, J. E. (1999).
Human learning (3rd ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Neary, M. (2000). Supporting students’ learning and professional development through the process of continuous assessment and mentorship. Nurse Education Today, 20, 469-474. Seifert, K. , ; Sutton, R. (2009).
Educational Psychology (2nd ed. ). Global Text. http://docs. globaltext.
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