Happy New Year Everyone! Thanks for sticking around! I hope you found some value from the posts I selected while I took a little time off over the winter break. In the meantime, the new year is getting off to a thrilling start! As the new Publications Writer for the Performing Arts Center (PAC) at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN), much of my time has been spent learning, absorbing and comprehending new information, processes, and systems, which I, then in turn, organize the data to maintain and/or develop new ways to achieve our goals with positive outcomes. Then, a little after a month of my stepping in to this position, (and just as I am getting a good feel of the new job, formulating strategies on how I want to evolve with it), the Director of the PAC (the supervisor that hired me) announced he was retiring! It was soon after that I discovered that until a new individual is placed in that position permanently, I would be stepping in to act as the PAC’s Interim Managing Director! Wow! Talk about accelerated learning! This is where a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management comes in handy, for sure! Therefore, to begin the new year and stay on course in a positive direction, as I continue to process all these rapid changes in my professional life, the focus of this week’s blogs will be centered on the learning experience in a social environment.
During my studies as a graduate student at Ashford University, the MBA professor in my Learning Organizations and Effectiveness Course, explained that social learning is an extension of operant conditioning (meaning that behavior is a function of consequences). This puts an emphasis on the environment in which learning takes place. In other words, the social learning process emphasizes that people can learn through observation and direct experience. He also purports that theorist Albert Bandura used this model to explain behavior like juvenile delinquency. Bandura’s theory, he stresses, postulates that young children learn aggressive responses by observing others. This social learning theory contends that the learning process occurs largely through modeling. In short, the model directly influences the learner. Therefore, it is the task of the model to transfer the necessary skill or knowledge onto the learning process.
Joining an academic community like CSN that continues to expand and evolve as a result of society’s social and technological changes at an accelerated rate, is very exciting. However, if not prepared, a new paradigm shift like this, can introduce pressure and challenges into the situation, based on each individual’s ability to apply discipline and control in the direction of their lives. In his book, Self-efficacy in Changing Societies, theorist Albert Bandura (1997) purports self-efficacy also plays an influential part in sculpting the parameters of human functionality and the intellectual development that helps shapes an individual’s beliefs, occupational development patterns, and even the quality of their health and well-being. In his own experiences with overcoming trial and error, Bandura discovered that there is an inherent ability for people to overcome hardship and stress by responding strategically to chance events in order to help build successful lives (Bandura, 1997).
Individuals can guide their destiny with an optimistic view of efficacy. Bandura’s theories suggest this can help an individual deal with failure, frustration and conflicts that easily derail people who lack a strong sense of self-worth and value. His theories further contend that values, attitudes, and styles of behavior are shaped through the power of modeling and observing others (Boswell, 2007). This pattern can be observed in the corporate workplace from individuals that work closely together. I remember as an employee at Capitol Records for example, when I first joined the national corporate arena, the administrative staff of the upper management executives reflected a demeanor that mirrored their departmental leader. Executives who were reserved and intimidating, hired staff members that modeled a similar disposition. In the meantime, department heads that were friendly, more open, personable and outgoing, had staff members that modeled a more playful and welcoming persona. In short, the lower level staff members mirrored the behavior to reflect the energy patterns of the supervisors they worked for.
Bandura’s (1991) research also contends there are many stages of moral reasoning. He cites that different types emerge from continuous stage sequences that can alter uniform thinking models (Bandura, 1991). For instance, punishment based obedience can destroy self-worth and self-efficacy rendering an individual to a belief system whose values are based on negative reinforcement. This conditioning is transferred into the workplace as an individual with a timid personality that is disinclined to voice their opinions for fear of being reprimanded and ridiculed. One strategy to help overcome these tendencies is for the individual to identify and become cognizant of the triggers that activate feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth. This can help the individual take action that can change their views and motivate them to incorporate positive outcomes. In conclusion, even though social learning is an extension of operant conditioning, individuals cognizant of the effects of negative input, can change patterns through analysis and by responding strategically.
Psychology cannot tell people how they ought to live their lives. It can however, provide them with the means for effecting personal and social change.
― Albert Bandura, Social Learning Theory
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Bandura, A. (1991). Social cognitive theory of moral thought and action. Handbook of moral behavior and development, 1, pp. 45-103. Hillsdale, NJ, USA: Standford University. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://exordio.qfb.umich.mx/archivos%20pdf%20de%20trabajo%20umsnh/aphilosofia/2007/NEUROPSICOLOGIA/BanSCTMoral.pdf
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy in changing societies. Cambridge, UK : Cambridge University Press.
Boswell, R. (2007, December 6). Belief that people learn by watching earns psychologist top award in field. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: ProQuest. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/docview/241121957/fulltext/13D047E8E8B2A4592FA/1?accountid=32521