Cognition and Instruction/Sociocognitive Learning

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Social Cognitive Theory[edit]

Albert Bandura Psychologist

Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory views learning as occurring within a social context and regards humans as self-organizing, proactive, self-reflecting and self-regulating.[1] Social cognitive theory categorizes the factors in human development as environmental, behavioral, and cognitive. It portrays development as emerging from the dynamic interplay of these three types of factors. Building on Bandura's earlier focus on observation and modeling as a source of learning, social cognitive theory describes how the belief in one's competence to succeed at a task, known as self-efficacy, strongly affects learning outcome.[2]

Reciprocal Determinism[edit]

Reciprocal Determinism

Bandura considers his model of reciprocal determinism as a way to explain how an individual’s behavior both influences and is influenced by both personal characteristics and the social world. Bandura’s reciprocal determinism model also explains that learning is the result of interacting variables. His model involves three components, personal, behavioral, and environmental factors that interact and influence each other. These three components are considered to function as interdependent rather than autonomous determinants, thus maintaining the fact that the they are conditional of each other. Personal factors include beliefs and attitudes of the individual. To apply this to a learning environment, one would say that the personal beliefs and attitudes of the learner would affect their own learning. If they were previously rewarded for a certain behavior in a certain situation, for instance, they are more likely to repeat that scenario. The behavioral component of learning can consist of responses one makes in a given situation such as one's response to a low test score with either frustration or an increased effort. Finally, environmental factors such as roles played by parents, teachers and peers can have an effect on an individual’s behavior and self-beliefs, which consequently impact their learning. Given the importance of this three components of Bandura’s model, we focus on the personal factors such beliefs about the self, and how it can affect behaviors and the interpretation of environmental cues. The model of reciprocal determinism will thus be considered in each section of this chapter.

Self-efficacy[edit]

self efficacy factors

Since self-concept and self-efficacy, though distinct constructs, are related in their conception and in their effects on student achievement, consideration is given first to the literature on self-concept as a basis for observations on self-efficacy. Self-concept is generally viewed as an assessment of self-worth deriving from comparisons with the past performance of self and the performance of others.[3][4] Self-efficacy tends to be conceptualized as a context-specific assessment of one’s competence to perform a specific task. Self-efficacy theory suggests that feelings of self-efficacy have their origins in experiences of success or failure that arise through attempts to master actual tasks. In brief, Self-efficacy is how the individual perceives ones own abilities and the level of confidence for achieving goals from the perceived abilities. There are three domains of self-efficacy that differentiates in: task difficulty, generality of one's self-efficacy (self-efficacy in one domain is not consistent with self-efficacy in another domain), strength of one's efficacy judgments. Within those three domains, there are four factors that Bandura stated to effect self-efficacy. These factors are enactive mastery, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and physiological and effective state. Enactive mastery is related to the knowledge that an individual has obtained from previous experience. For example, if an individual has achieved mastery in math they are more likely to have a high self-efficacy. Achieving mastery contributes to the individual’s perception of ones ability in completing a task. Vicarious experience is watching others and learning from what was watched[5]. For example, if an individual watches a classmate or teacher demonstrate an equation on the board they may feel their ability to the problem on their own has increased. There will be more discussion related to this in the section entitled enactive and vicarious learning. Another factor is verbal persuasion which is having an individual convince another that they are capable of completing a task. Having another person or classmate tell another that they have the ability to do well on a task or encourage them, might boost their confidence and their perception of their ability on a task. The final factor, physiological state, can effect the individual’s self-efficacy. For example, if an individual is tired due to a lack of sleep, their perception of their ability to complete a math task might be low. Even though they normally have high self-efficacy in math. These four factors as well as others affect the individual’s self-efficacy.[6][7] As self-efficacy is closely related to the concept of reciprocal determinism in ways that the personal, environmental, social aspects influence self-efficacy and vice versa, this part of the chapter will look closely at the different aspects and implications of self-efficacy and factors that will correlate with each other.

Agency[edit]

Agency refers to simply the capacity of a person to act in any given environment. When it comes to learning, agency and performance are closely related, since agency involves the individual's willingness to engage in academic tasks. Agency is characterized by number of core features that operate within human consciousness and influences the nature and quality of one's life and learning. Social cognitive theory distinguishes among three modes of agency: direct personal agency, proxy agency that relies on others to act on one's behest to secure desired outcomes, and collective agency which is exercised through socially coordinated and interdependent effort.[8] As defined by Bandura, efficacy beliefs form the foundation of human agency as people need to believe that they can produce results by their own actions, individuals who have agency are intrinsically motivated to perform and may need very little or no external incentives; Bandura (2007)[9] refers to this subjective operative capabilities. For example, a person with high self‐efficacy would be confident in his/her ability to perform a given task successfully. In order to fulfill and maintain the confidence, the person would exert greater effort in completing a difficult goal‐related tasks if he/she feels confident that the task would be successfully completed. Individuals with high self-efficacy, need to believe that challenges can be met and overcome. Self-efficacy beliefs usually affect cognitive functioning through the joint influence of motivational and information-processing operations. For example, this dual influence is illustrated in studies of different sources of variation in memory performance. The stronger people's beliefs in their memory capacities, the more effort they devote to cognitive processing of memory tasks, which, in turn, enhances their memory performances. However, efficacy in dealing with one's environment is not a fixed act or simply a matter of knowing what to do. People are neither autonomous agents nor simply mechanical conveyors of the environmental influences. Rather, they make causal contribution to their own motivation and action, which involves a generative capability in which cognitive, social, and behavioral skills must be organized into integrated action. Perceived self-efficacy helps to account for such diverse phenomena such as changes in coping behavior produced by different modes of influence. The stronger their perceived self-efficacy, the higher the goals people set for themselves and the firmer their commitment. These include the temporal extension of agency through intentions and thought, self-regulation, and self-reflection about one's capabilities, quality of abilities, and the meaning and purpose of one's life pursuits. In causal tests, the higher the level of induced self-efficacy, the higher the performance accomplishments and the lower the emotional arousal.[10] Among the mechanisms of personal agency, none is more central or pervasive than people's beliefs about their capabilities to exercise control over events that affect their lives. Self-efficacy beliefs function as an important set of proximal determinants of human motivation, affect, and action. So far, the discussion has centered on efficacy activated processes that enable people to create beneficial environments and to exercise control over them. Judgments of personal efficacy also affect selection of environments. People tend to avoid activities and situations they believe exceed their coping capabilities, but they readily undertake challenging activities and select social environments they judge themselves capable of handling. They operate on action through motivational, cognitive, and affective intervening processes. Some of these processes, such as affective arousal and thinking patterns, are of considerable interest in their own right and not just as intervening influences of action.[11] Those who argue that people do not exercise any control over their motivation and action usually emphasize that external events influence judgments and actions, but neglect the portion of causation showing that the environmental events are partially shaped by people's actions. In the model of reciprocal causation, people partly determine the nature of their environment and are influenced by it. Self-regulatory functions are personally constructed from varied experiences and not simply environmentally implanted. Among the mechanisms of human agency, beliefs of personal efficacy is also very pervasive and other factors serve more as guides and motivators, as they are rooted in the core belief that one has the power to produce what one desires. Do beliefs of personal efficacy contribute to human functioning? If it was otherwise people would have little incentive or motivation to act or to persevere in the face of difficulties. This core belief affect whether individuals think in self-enhancing or self-debilitating ways, how well they motivate themselves and persevere in the face of difficulties, the quality of their emotional well-being and their vulnerability to stress and depression, and the choices they make at important decisional points. The critique for this theory comes from this aspect since self-efficacy beliefs operate in concert with goal systems of self-regulation in contrast to the focus of control theory on discrepancy reduction. As evaluated by 9 meta-analyses for the effect sizes of self-efficacy beliefs and by the vast body of research on goal setting, contradicts findings that belief in one’s capabilities and personal goals is self-debilitating. [12]

Outcome Expectation[edit]

Selfbeliefs.png

Studies of the relationship between self-beliefs and performance tend to draw on this or related theories and usually endorse the notion of reciprocal determinism at a theoretical level which can also set the basis for self-efficacy level. However, attempts to model this mutual influence of self-beliefs and performance are few and are focused on the relationship between self-concept and performance. Comparisons are made between those who overestimate how well they will perform (over-estimators), those who underestimate their level of performance (under-estimators) and those who have an accurate perception of their performance level (accurate estimators) to determine how the three groups differ.[13] If differences exist then recommendations can be made to improve the accuracy of self-estimates, and thereby improve the efficacy of such measures. A key consideration is what differentiates those that are able to accurately self-assess from those that produce erroneous self-assessments. Feedback is also a very important factor in building outcome expectation and self-efficacy. Athanasou (2005) identified three key sources of feedback used by people in deriving self-estimates: social messages, personal factors and situational factors. Social messages were sources of information derived from interaction with others. Three types of social messages influenced self-evaluation: comparisons we make of ourselves with others, feedback we receive from others, and the social and cultural stereotypes.[14] Results from the above study indicated four main areas of feedback sources, and a positive relationship between ability and accuracy of self-estimates. Learning goal orientation and use of feedback were positively related; however their effects on accuracy of self-assessment were contrary to those hypothesized. Analyses indicated a positive relationship between ability and accuracy of self-assessments. However, over-estimators recorded higher levels of confidence, learning goal orientation and usefulness of feedback than the other groups.Most studies report the relationship between estimates of ability and actual ability to be only moderate.[15] Thus the reciprocal determinism of self-efficacy and performance seems to be without direct empirical support, probably because the longitudinal, repeated-measures data often considered necessary for this purpose are not available. It is possible, though, to model reciprocal effects with cross-sectional data. In the analyses reported in an article, the authors achieved this using a structural model in which the mutual influence of self-efficacy and performance in mathematics is represented as a feedback loop. This model was estimated in each of 33 nations on the basis of data on the mathematics self-efficacy and mathematics achievement of 15-year-olds. First, the reciprocal determinism of mathematics self-efficacy and achievement was supported in 26 of the 30 nations, providing empirical support for this proposition as an explanation for the observed relationship between mathematics self-efficacy and achievement. The model was a good fit to the data in 30 nations and was supportive of reciprocal determinism in 24 of these, suggesting a fundamental psychological process that transcends national and cultural boundaries. Such evidence can suggest the link between culture which is an example of environmental factors correlated to self-efficacy and performance. [16] Taken together, these findings provide persuasive support for Bandura's contention that self-beliefs and performance iteratively modify each other until the individual comes to a realistic appraisal of his or her self-worth or competence relative to the (mathematics) tasks at hand.

Goal Orientation[edit]

According to Locke and Latham (2002), ‘A goal is the object or aim of an action, for example, to attain a specific standard of proficiency, usually within a specified time limit'.[17] Elliot (1997) sees goals as cognitive representations that guide individual behaviour by focusing on specific outcomes. These definitions have a common thread that they suggest goal‐setting is based on purposeful conscious human behavior.[18] Thus, a goal is that which an individual hopes to reach or attain through purposeful behavior. Goal orientation refers to the mental framework that influences how people approach situations of achievement in terms of interpreting the situation and motivation to achieve. Past research suggests that goal orientation may be treated as either an individual trait or a situational characteristic. Button, Mathieu and Zajac (1996) claimed that goal orientation has both the dispositional and situational components.[19] College students who hold a strong learning goal orientation are more likely to pursue challenging activities and to exert greater effort when presented with a difficult class, topic, or activity. this mastery pattern is adaptive in an academic setting and leads to a higher level of achievement.[20] There are two types of goal orientation: performance orientation, where the aim of completing a task is to gain favorable judgments of one’s performance; and learning orientation, where the aim is to gain knowledge. Theoretically these orientations produce different behaviors. Individuals with a performance orientation are more likely to avoid challenges and pressure because that might increase the likelihood of failure and consequently be judged negatively by others. For people with performance orientation, their aim is on the performance and external reinforcement components such as positive feedback and judgment on their work or grades in school and taking risks that will result in negative feedback or bad grades lower their motivation to challenge tasks. In contrast individuals with a learning orientation seek out challenges and maintain their motivation even under difficult conditions, for them, failure is also a form of useful feedback. For learners with learning orientation, the process itself is also reward for learning and the result of succeeding or not does not effect them very much because they are more focused on gaining the knowledge which ironically often results in good external feedback and results as well.[21] Button et al., (1996) concluded from their investigations that learning and performance goal orientations were not mutually exclusive, each goal orientation represent a different end of a continuum. Self-efficacious students are better goal setters, because of their willingness to set “close” rather than “distant” goals and the ability to set one's own goals; also it has been shown that these students have an enhance self-efficacy. This also implies that student‐initiated goals and related achievement can be important to the subsequent establishment of challenging goals being applied to complex situations. In other words, perceptions of higher levels of control and goal commitment (self‐efficacy beliefs and a willingness to engage in important goal tasks) influence an individual’s willingness to set difficult goals[11].

Task Engagement[edit]

Self-efficacy is linked with the initial task engagement, persistence of task engagement, and successful performance. In self-efficacy, first setting the goal from the level of self-perceived performance expectation leads to how the student will approach and engage in a task. There seems to be two aspects to task engagement: the first is the willingness or the level of motivation to engage in a given tasks and the second aspect would be the actual attitude and behavior of engaging in the certain tasks. One’s ability and willingness to establish challenging yet achievable goals is necessary to evaluate options, make decisions, plan and achieve meaningful accomplishments. A willingness to take on important goal‐related tasks and have positive self‐efficacy beliefs were associated with those who reported a readiness to set difficult goals. This suggests that an individual, who experiences a general sense of autonomy, may likely extend this perspective to specific situations. Inversely, an individual who experiences a low general sense of autonomy may perceive less autonomy in specific situations. A sense of having autonomy, for example, through the opportunity to choose, is related to confidence in one’s ability to complete a task successfully.[22] Individuals, who perceive a margin of control in their lives, might take on difficult goal‐related tasks, since they likely feel confident in affecting outcomes. An individual’s sense of having some control in life as supported by choice is positively related to a sense of self‐efficacy and a willingness to engage in important goal tasks. By its very nature, goal‐setting invokes task effort that may include planning in order to increase the probability of success. Goal‐setting is thus a key component in self‐regulation (Locke & Latham, 2002) and can facilitate learning. Results suggest that before males engage in challenging goal attainment they must perceive themselves as self‐efficacious, whereas females are inspired by tasks that are important to them. If the tasks are important, so are the goals, regardless of their difficult nature. One’s ability and willingness to establish challenging yet achievable goals is necessary to evaluate options, make decisions, plan and achieve meaningful accomplishments. For example, in two studies, one with undergraduate university students and the other with high school students, Sideridis (2001) found the important task of maintaining a high GPA contributed to normative beliefs in the goal, importance of effort, intention to achieve the goal and positive study behaviors such as organizing and planning, which resulted in satisfaction over the long term.[23] These studies suggest the saliency of goal‐setting and self‐efficacy in academic achievement. They also imply that student‐initiated goals and related achievement can be important to the subsequent establishment of challenging goals being applied to complex situations. The literature indicates that an individual’s sense of having some control in life as supported by choice is positively related to a sense of self‐efficacy and a willingness to engage in important goal tasks.

Persistence[edit]

Persistence is defined as the act of perseverance in spite of obstacles and frustrations. Although the persistence of an individual can be respective to a variety of factors, it is found that the level of self-efficacy in an individual amounts to the extent of persistence in an individual. As self-efficacy refers to the degree of confidence of one’s ability to succeed at a task, the strength of one’s perceived efficacy accompanied by motivation highly corresponds to the extent to which they persist in a given task. In an observational study made by Hackett and Betz (1981), it was hypothesized that efficacy expectations are associated to the degree of persistence that lead to success in an educational setting. Their study ultimately found that both level and strength of self-efficacy for educational requirements were generally related to persistence and successful academic outcome in students [24]. Motivation is another determining factor that contributes to an individual’s persistence. A logistic regression analyses and general linear modelling approach was applied to predicting persistence and academic success in students. In both cases of academic motivation on persistence and academic success, it was proven that amotivation was the single significant motivational predictor in the final models [25]. These results are associated with the level of self-efficacy of the participants as the level of their motivation also seems to branch from the level of their self-efficacy.

Case Study: In another study done by Taylor and Betz (1983), self-efficacy was measured in relation to the tasks required in career decision making. This study was aimed to investigate the theory of self-efficacy beliefs tied with academic success and persistence in students who were considering careers in the science and engineering field. It was discovered that college students’ efficacy expectations were dependent on the degree of their career indecision; students who were indecisive about their career path were less confident in their ability to complete the tasks required to make career decisions, and those who had decided on their career path experienced the reverse. The expectations of self-efficacy in completing their education for their specific technical/scientific careers were acquired at the beginning, at the end, and two months following a ten week academic course in career planning. The strengths of individual self-efficacy was then assessed by having students give an estimate of their level of confidence in ability to complete these requirements and duties for career performance. Other correlations that were used to measure the relationship between self-efficacy and academic success included the individual’s Math PSAT scores and high school rank and it was found that self-efficacy for technical/scientific educational requirements appeared to be related to objective measures of mathematical aptitude and high school academic achievement. According to Bandura, performance accomplishments are hypothesized to be an influential factor in self-efficacy; based on this notion, the subjects’ knowledge of their previous academic performance and aptitude test scores may have had a part in determining their efficacy expectations [26]. On the other hand, the relationship between measured and perceived ability did not correlate, which in turn suggests that the appeal of studying both efficacy expectation and objective ability as they can contribute to the understanding of career-relevant outcomes. Further work can be done in determining a causal connection between self-efficacy and particular academic behaviors with factors such as objective ability and incentive for performance can be considered in this context.

As much of previous studies on self-efficacy were based on the examination of targets problems, such as phobias, and performance criteria, like behavioral avoidance tests, this particular investigation looked at self-efficacy in various different levels and sets of academic behaviors. The expectations were not confined to an educational setting, but branched out into the consideration of occupational fields titles. The fact that significant relations were found with such variable and nonspecific factors suggests that “self-efficacy may be a relatively robust and flexible model that may help to explain complex as well as relatively discrete behaviors” [27]. Overall, this study resulted in the confirmation of the strength of efficacy expectations in relation to persistence and success in major choice.


Strategy use[edit]

Strategy use is a significant factor in determining the level of self-efficacy in individuals and vice versa. The use of strategy enables students to regulate their behavior and and be in control of their learning environment, thus putting a significance on self-regulation in establishing a connection to successful uses of strategy with positive outcomes. Furthermore, the different strategies used by an individual is strongly dependent on their perception of academic efficacy as well as some factors of reciprocal feedback through teachers. According to Zimmerman, students use strategies to regulate three foundational aspects for learning: their personal functioning, academic behavioral performance, and their learning environments [28]. Personal regulation are strategies such as organization, rehearsal, memorizing, goal setting and planning; strategies that are geared towards enhancing behavioral functioning are things such as self-evaluation and self-consequating; and finally, strategies that include students to seek information, keep records and seeking assistance can improve students’ immediate learning environment. For those students who are successful in self-regulation seem to have a general understanding of the environment on themselves and hold the ability to improve that environment through the use of strategy. To better understand students’ use of these self-regulated learning strategies and the factors that affect motivation for strategy use, we can take a look at Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons’ study conducted in 1986. This study was aimed at measuring students’ self-regulated learning strategies through the Self-Regulated Learning Interview Schedule (SLRIS). The results found that the measures of strategy use were highly correlated with students’ academic achievement [29]; additionally, perceptions of self-efficacy also acted as a determinant of strategy use.

Case Study: The SLRIS that Zimmerman and Martinez-Pon used in their study measured strategy use by asking students to report the methods they used in various learning contexts. Two multiple regression analyses were conducted in order to determine students’ perception of academic efficacy in relation to self-regulated learning strategies. These learning strategies were then used to predict both verbal and mathematical efficacy, where verbal self-efficacy was related to the individual’s use of strategies such as organization, reviewing notes and seeking peer assistance and mathematical self-efficacy had similar results, with the exception of seeking adult assistance which was negatively correlated. Final results on the strategy use of students indicate that “the achievement of these students in school indicates that a triadic model of self-regulation may have merit for training students to become more effective learners” [30].

In providing individuals with the necessary tools for efficient strategy use, Zimmerman proposes an academic self-regulation model called the SRL model. The theory behind this model outlines how teachers can aid students in becoming more engaged in their learning and lead to improvement in academic performance. The SRL model makes use of an feedback cycle consisting of three phases: planning, practice, and evaluation. In the planning phase, students will have a chance to carefully assess their academic environment and pick a strategy that can most efficiently address their learning goals. During the practice phase, students can implement their chosen strategy and make ongoing adjustments to the plan as they go, also giving them the opportunity to self-monitor their progress. Finally, in the evaluation phase, students can evaluate the effective of each strategy that was used to help obtain their learning goals. This model can be useful in to providing individuals with the necessary techniques to regulate their academic behaviors and control their learning environment.

Effort[edit]

Self-regulation strategies alongside self-efficacy successively help maintain the level of effort put forth by an individual. Volition is represented in effort regulation which describes one’s willingness towards a given task. Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons (1990) reported that individuals who demonstrate the successful use of self-regulation strategies and hold a high degree of self-efficacy were likely to succeed academically; this demonstrates that self-efficacy helps maintain volition and those who are successful in doing so consequently appear to promote the use of self-regulation strategies [31]. Zimmerman’s Model of of Self-Regulatory Process explains that learners regulate and maintain their concentration, attention and motivation so that they can learn efficiently and achieve their determined goal [32]. Based on this, there exists a three stage model of self-regulation that includes three cyclical phases involved in the self-relation process: a forethought phase, a volitional or performance control phase, and a self-reflection phase. When a student is engaged in a task, their learning behavior is supported by volitional/performance control. They then regulate themselves by strategies such as maintaining concentration, attention and motivation. The last stage to this model is the reflection on learning outcomes. This reflection helps individuals in maintaining the motivation needed to maintain and improve on their performance for future academic success.

Throughout the three stages mentioned, the phase of volition and performance control is a significant factor in looking at effort. When individuals set an initial learning goal in the stage of forethought they are then needed to regulate themselves and use strategies that can allow them to reach their goal. One of the learning strategies used includes effort regulation which is then represented through volition. Furthermore, as motivation is associated with effort and volition, it can then be seen as an essential construct of self-efficacy which ultimately fosters effort regulation. Zimmerman suggests that it is crucial for educators to understand the importance of learners developing self-efficacy because this can positively affect effort regulation strategy use; in order to promote self-efficacy teachers can help learners experience personal mastery experiences such as observing peers, repeated successful experiences and positive feedback that will allow them to improve their effort regulation strategies as manifested by volition [33]. In addition to these ideas, Onoda’s results of examining the relationship between self-efficacy and effort regulation strategy use determined that self-efficacy indeed significantly influenced effort regulation strategy use [34]. Through a series of questions based on the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire created by Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie (1993), it was discovered that self-efficacy developed through previous learning experiences was a determining factor in employing effort regulation as well as their ability to control their learning behavior for successful learning.

Enactive and Vicarious learning[edit]

Enactive and vicarious learning represent two different ways of acquiring knowledge [35]. Enactive learning occurs when one learn something by doing it; and vicarious learning refers to the learning that occurs when one observes others perform a task. Enactive learning, because it involves active engagement on a task, may appear to be most important because students can learn the steps to perform a task successfully; however it can also lead to a trial and error cycle if the student do not possess the knowledge required to perform the task. On the other hand, vicarious learning might seem more time effective because one does not actively perform the task and therefore there is no risk for errors, but at the same time it requires students to use more cognitive abilities such as focusing attention on the model that is being observed, and retaining the information intended to be learned. [36] In spite of these differences, much of the learning happens enactively and vicariously; in mathematics for example, students first need to learn the theoretical knowledge of how to solve a problem before they attend to do it. In fact when both types of knowledge are used, the chances for errors is significantly reduced.[37]

When discussing vicarious learning it is important to distinguish between learning and performance. Although learning might occur by observing a model, performance on a task might depend in several other factors such as motivation, interest, confidence, and several other factors. Self-efficacy might also play an important role in performance of a task that was previously learned by observation. As previously mentioned, self–efficacy is a judgement of one’s ability to perform a task in a specific domain. [38] A student who has high levels of self-efficacy, is more likely to perform a task that was learned vicariously. One important question to ask is whether observational learning can improve the self-efficacy of students. Braaksma. M. H and his colleagues claim that indeed the relation between observational learning and self-efficacy can be influenced by the perceive similarities between a student and the model; this means that students who can identify with a model are more likely to learn from observation and increase their self-efficacy. [39]

Because self-efficacy is domain-specific, Braaksma. M. H and his colleagues (2002) [40] examined whether if students could learn more efficiently when observing a model that has more share similarities to them compared to models that are more different. The study involved a written task where participants observed peer models write argumentative texts. The authors separated the participants into three conditions: participants who observed a competent model, those who observed a non-competitive model, and a control group where participants just did the written task without observing any model. Results from this study show that students who were weak at writing benefit more from observing the writing of non-competent models, and strong students benefit more from observing competent models. The results from this study show that perceived model identification is important. The author offer several reasons for this results, perhaps the results can be explained better by individual's need for social comparison and identification. [41] It might be the case that participants who were stronger writers identify more with competent writers since both have more things in common, such as writing style and error recognition. [42]


Another interesting finding from this study is that participants who were considered strong writers benefit from both observation and performance of the written task. According to the authors, strong writers possessed previous information about writing and are probably able to divide their attention between learning and performing. In contrast weak writers, since they might not possess enough information about the task, were unable to do this. Hoover, J. D., Giambatista, R. C., & Belkin, L. Y. (2012) [43] offer some further support for this finding. In their study participants were divided into two conditions: observation-performance, and performance only. The task in this study was a more complicated one compared to the study previously described; it involved negotiation between a buyer and a seller. Participants in the observation-performance condition were able to solve the negotiation problem more effectively than the performance alone condition. Together these findings point out that Vicarious or observation learning can increase performance and consequently raise the self-efficacy of students.

The results from both of these studies described above may have important implications for learning. On the one hand, Braaksma, M. H., et al study (2002) [44]. show the importance of share similarities between models and students. In classrooms, teachers might enhance the learning of their students by asking a student to perform a task infront of his other peers. In math learning for example, a teacher may ask someone who seem to understand the procedures of solving a specific problem to come to the blackboard and solve the problem so everyone could see. By observing peers solving a math problem, students might feel more identified with the model since both share similar characteristics such as level of intelligence, student roles, and even physical characteristics. On the other hand, Hoover, J. D., et al (2012) [45] study show that learning can be enhanced when observation and performance are combined. in classrooms, teachers might ask volunteers to try to solve a similar problem after observing the performance of other students. Observation, can also be important in the classroom because students might also get motivated to try to solve a task after observing one of their peers performance.

Modelling[edit]

The results from the studies described above suggest that modeling plays an essential role in learning; in a classroom for instance, students can learn from the performance of teachers and peers on a math problems; However not all models are the same; In Braaksma. M. .H; et al (2002) [46] study, Strong writers benefit more from observing competent models and weaker writer from observing non-competent models. These results suggest that observational learning might depend somehow on specific characteristics of the model. These results also suggest that similarities between learners and models can be essential for learning. For instance in schools, students might learn more effectively from the performance of peers on a math problem. As it was mentioned in the previous section,there are several explanations for the fact that students are more likely to learn from other students compared to less similar models such as teachers or older peers; one reason is identification; students recognize and identify with the characteristics they share with a peer model. Another reason is social comparison where students compare themselves to peer models; and a final reason might be related toSelf-evaluation, that is when students use others as a standard to evaluate themselves.[47] Similarly modelling also serve different functions; according to Bandura (as cited by Schunk, H, D; 2012) [48] there are three main functions of modeling: to facilitate responses, disinhibit student's responses, and provide observational learning. In a classroom students might feel more motivated to participate in a discussion when they see other peers doing the same, and might feel more confident to do so.

Another function of modelling is that it provides the necessary strategies that enhance learning such as active engagement and participation [49]. Improving Classroom Learning by simultaneously Observing Human Tutoring Videos while Problem Solving might be more effective than either watching a video or solving a problem alone [50]; furthermore it is important to encourage students to ask questions, discuss, and use examples to self-explain the material, in oth words it is important o actively involve students in their learning. Craig et al (2009) [51] emphasize the importance of active observation in learning. Active observation refers to observing that facilitates engagement with the material so as to facilitate deeper processing (Chi et al; 2008 as cited in Craig et al; 2009) [52]. In a study intended to explore the impact of collaboration on learning, Participants were divided into two conditions; the collaborative observing tutoring where students watch a video of a tutor teaching a student how to solve a problem, and a worked example where students watch a video of a tutor giving and performing the instructions of how to solve a problem. Participants were given a physics problem to solve right after they watch the videos and again 26 days after they watch the video. The results show no difference in score in the immediate post-test, but students in the collaborative observing tutoring score higher when the task was applied 26 days later. These results suggest that modelling provides essential strategies for effective learning such scaffolding and explanations in order to promote long-term retention of knowledge. [53]

Results of this studies can be easily applied to classrooms. As mentioned in the previous section, teachers can not only enhanced immediate learning by assigning a student to demonstrate how a problem is solved in front of the classroom, but also encourage retention of knowledge. Given that perceived similarities depend on specific characteristics of a model, students might be more complying to look at other students as an extension of their own capabilities. When a student is more skillful at solving a particular problem than another, perceived similarities may play an important role since, a less skill individual might feel more motivated to perform at the same level as the highly-skilled peer. In contrast when a model is perceived to be less similar, such as teaches or older peers,the student's motivation to achieve at the same level might suffer Braaksma, M. H., Rijlaarsdam, G., & van den Bergh, H. (2002)[54].

Teacher efficacy[edit]

In classrooms, teachers and students are equally affected by beliefs about their own abilities to perform a task. In the case of teachers, the beliefs are about their own capability to teach [55] Teacher efficacy can be influenced by several factors such as classroom experiences, relation with colleagues, and even school settings. [56] Knoblauch, D., & Chase, M. A. (2015) show that teachers have lower sense of efficacy in urban areas, this was perhaps because of the challenges that urban teaching represent. Teacher efficacy has a great impact on student’s learning. [57] Teacher efficacy is associated with effective classroom management, efficient teaching methods, and greater student’s achievements. [58] Teachers with high self-efficacy can influence student’s performance in several ways; they can encourage mastery experiences, provide verbal persuasion, and give informational feedback (Holzberger, D., et al 2015) [59] In summary, at schools, teachers with high self-efficacy can be fabulous models for students since they can not only raise their academic success but also enhance their learning by providing effective instructions.

In one longitudinal study conducted by Holzberger, D., et al (2015) [60] intended to explore the relation between teacher efficacy and the quality of instructions, students and teachers complete some test intended to measure teacher efficacy (social interaction with kids, and coping with job stress) and quality of instructions (cognitive activation, and mastery experiences). The tests were applied at the end of grade 9 and then again at the end of grade ten in order to measure changes in teacher efficacy or quality of instructions. Results show that scores in teacher efficacy measures change over the course of a year, it either improve or decrease depending on external variables such as student’s achievement and curriculum changes. Regarding quality of instructions, scores did not change between time 1 and time 2 suggesting that teacher efficacy and instructional quality are independent of each other and might be explained by other variables such as motivation to keep their jobs. It is important to notice that these results do not imply that teacher efficacy is irrelevant to learning. Even though this study might not show a relation between teacher efficacy and instructional quality, teacher efficacy is associated with other strategies that can enhance learning such as verbal persuasion and provision of feedback Schunk, H, D; 2012) [61].


Another interesting feature that characterized teachers with high levels of self efficacy is related to agency. As previously mentioned, agency is the willingness of a person to act in any given environment. Because at schools, often, there are situations that teachers can control such as classroom management, and situations that teachers cannot control like curriculum demands, teacher efficacy involve the ability to act on those features that can be control. At the beginning of this section, it was established that teacher efficacy is related to effective classroom management, and efficient study methods, these are features that are under the control of teachers. Teachers with high levels of efficacy focus on the things they can control while being aware of the situations that are out of their control (the figure shown below state some other situations that teachers can an cannot control).


According to Bandura (as cited in Woolfolk, A. E., & Hoy, W. K. 1990) [62] the motivation of teachers to manage the classroom and use efficient teaching strategies depend on two factors: outcome expectation and efficacy factors. Efficacy factors refer to individual beliefs that one is capable to perform effectively on a task; in contrast, Outcome expectation refers to individual's judgement about the likelihood that a positive or negative outcome might happen. Teacher efficacy is a combination of these two factors, for instance a teacher who believe that she can greatly impact the learning of her students (personal efficacy), is more likely to believe that her effort s will result in a positive outcome (outcome expectation).


In a study, Woolfolk, A. E., & Hoy, W. K. (1990) intended to explore the relation between personal efficacy, outcome expectation, and classroom management. Participants in the study did a bunch of questionnaires intended to measure personal efficacy, teachers' outcome expectation, and strategies for classroom management. The results show a complex relation between these variables; overall, the results show that teachers who have higher personal efficacy tend to have positive views about outcomes and therefore use more humanistic strategies such as cooperative interactions and direct experiences. In contrast, teachers with a lower sense of personal efficacy tend to hold negative predictions about outcomes, and use more rigid and highly control environments in order to manage the classroom. Similarly, teachers with high personal efficacy have more positive views about teaching than teachers with lower efficacy, and therefore spend more effort to encourage intrinsic motivation on their students whereas teachers with lower efficacy tend to use rigid control strategies to elicit specific behaviors on their students [63] The results from this study clearly show that teacher efficacy is a complex construct that involve a combination of personal efficacy and the general beliefs about teaching. these results can serve to explain the findings from Holzberger, D., et al (2015) [64] study. The fact instructional quality can remains the same overtime regardless of teachers' level of efficacy can result from a change in individuals beliefs about teaching but not in the beliefs about personal efficacy. teachers may still belief that they are capable of teaching because of the extrinsic rewards and therefore adopt more controlling strategies; but on the other hand, their intrinsic motivation to teach might be affected.

Collective Efficacy[edit]

So far we have discussed self-efficacy, enactive and vicarious learning, teacher-efficacy and how they are related to the reciprocal determinism. This part of the chapter is going to explore the concept of group efficacy. First there is a distinction that needs to be made between collective efficacy and group efficacy. Collective efficacy is each individual group member's perception of how well the group will do on the task[65]. Thus each group member could have a different collective efficacy based on their perception of the groups ability. Whereas group efficacy is the whole group's perception of how well the group will do on the task[66]. This would include each group member holding the same efficacy This difference is small but is important when interpreting data results. The following discussion will look at collective efficacy, performance goals, group performance, group cohesion, social lofting and school efficacy.

Bandura argued that collective efficacy is related to self-efficacy. He suggested that the four factors that influence self-efficacy also influence collective efficacy. These factors are enactive mastery, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and physiological and effective state. He also emphasized social comparison, social influences, mix of knowledge, and past group performance which influence more specifically collective efficacy. Making references to reciprocal determinism these factors each fall under either personal, behavioural or environmental [67]. Enactive mastery and mix of knowledge are personal factors. They are both related to knowledge that the individual already has which contributes to their feeling of being competent to complete a group task. Vicarious and social comparison are related to modelling which was discussed earlier. These behavioural factors influence collective efficacy. Verbal persuasion, physiological and affect states, and social influences are all related to environmental factors. Socially, these affect how the individual perceives his/her capability to complete a group task. Each of these factors contribute to collective efficacy. Each of these factors interact with one another and together affect collective and group efficacy.

Group Performance/ Performance Goals[edit]

Collective efficacy, group performance and performance goals are important aspects to examine. Collectively, research has shown that collective efficacy is related to group performance [68] A higher sense of collective efficacy produces better performance on the task. Those students who perform well on group tasks often have higher collective efficacy than those who do not [69]. For example, if a group is given the task to create a board game, and they have a high collective efficacy they are more likely to perform well. If the performance was done well it would be reflected in the grade or assessment that took place after the project. A way to improve collective efficacy and performance is through setting goals. In addition to group performance, the goals that a group sets are important, too. Research shows that when there are specific goals; overall performance and efficacy is higher than when there are no goals or they are non specific [70]. For example, a teacher might divide the students up into teams and get them to build the highest tower. Here the teacher has set a specific goal which is to build the highest tower. Since students are given a specific goal they should perform well overall than if they were given the instruction to “do your best” when building a tower. As well as making the goals specific it is also important to make them challenging. However, making them too difficult and too easy was negatively correlated with group performance [71] Thus, teachers need to take into consideration of the level of the students and their capabilities when setting group goals. For example, giving kindergarteners the task of designing a science experiment is too difficult for them, but giving the same task to fourth graders would be more appropriate. Once group goals are set, the group needs to make a commitment to these goals. Research shows that if a group has high efficacy they are more likely to commit to their goals [72]. This makes sense considering that if the students perceive that the task needs to be attended to, has specific goals, and feels that they are capable of completing the project, they are more likely to be committed to the project. Higher commitment is also shown to correlate with persisting when difficulties arise in the project[73]. Further discussion on persistence was discussed earlier in the chapter. Students need specific, challenging goals, and to make a commitment to these goals in order to achieve high collective efficacy and high group performance.

Another aspect is whether a task requires high interdependence or low interdependence. If a task has high interdependence, the group members are more likely to rely on one another and develop a higher group efficacy [74]An example of this would be a group project that consists of performing a skit. The members have to rely one on another to perform the skit and all members have to be present when performing the skit. Whereas, a group that has low interdependence are more likely to not rely on group members and will have a lower group efficacy. An example of a group project would be the creation of this Wiki book. Although each of us are in a group and each group is creating a chapter we must likely divide the chapters up. This allows for each member to do their own part and not have to rely on other group members. In addition, at the end of the project we are getting marked individually. This project overall promote lower group efficacy.

Group Cohesion[edit]

Another way to increase collective efficacy is making sure the group has cohesion.Group’s cohesion,is defined as an attraction to group members and each group member wants to work with the others[75]. It can also be defined as group members who are interested in the same subject or have a collective mind. Higher group cohesiveness is an important predictor of group performance [76]. Thus the more cohesive the group, the better they will perform, and the higher the collective efficacy they will have. In order to achieve group cohesion a teacher should allow students to pick their groups. This would address the aspect of each group member wanting to work together. However, it should be emphasized the group’s goals and the expectation of the group this will promote commitment and collective efficacy. In addition, one of the downfalls of group work is that the students get off task. A study that observed high school adolescents found that they were able to complete group work while staying on task, whereas elementary school children were more likely to become off task. This could be due to the seating arrangements. In elementary school they are more likely to sit in groups, and have a lot of opportunity to interact with each other in informal situations thus making it easier for them to go off topic. Whereas high school students are more likely to sit in rows or individually so when they were put into groups they were only in groups to complete a task. This association with being in a group and completing a task makes it more likely they will stay on task.[77] Further, research has shown that it takes up to seven weeks to fully develop group cohesiveness. These seven weeks allow the group time to work together, and develop their collective efficacy [78]. If the group sees that they are able to perform well on previous tasks, this will increase their collective efficacy. Thus it is important for teachers to let the child work with the same group for longer periods of time. However, there is research that contradicts this assumption. Research conducted by Goncalo, Polman, and Maslach shows that having a high sense of collective efficacy right at the beginning of a project can be detrimental to the group’s overall performance. Having a high sense of efficacy can reduce the beneficial forms of conflict that is essential to group work[79]. Even though previous research has suggested that it takes seven weeks for a group to develop collective efficacy some groups may develop it early[80]. In addition, one group may develop high group efficacy from working with each other previously. It is uncertain if a group who has worked together previously and has a high group efficacy, will miss out on the beneficial forms of conflict. Beneficial forms of conflict include disagreeing on how to carry out the project, and reconstructing the information through discussion, evaluation, and consensus. For example, take this Wikibook project, if I had worked with my group members previously and we received a favourable performance outcome and had developed a high collective efficacy we might have gone about the project in a different way. At the beginning of the project we might not have changed our outline because in the past we had done well. As well, when we were in the final stages of editing we might not have put in as much time and effort because in the previous task we had done well. Our group discussed ways to improve our project, which included using more examples, adding pictures, and how to make the project flow better. Once again we might not have talked about it at such length if we had already established high collective efficacy. In conclusion, it may not be as beneficial as once thought for students to work together on multiple projects; there needs to be more research to further support this assumption[81]. Another important note to be made is that self-efficacy is normally discussed as being domain specific, as was mentioned earlier in this chapter. This can also be used in relation to collective efficacy[82]. Children should be placed in different groups for different subjects. To further illustrate this point, a baseball team might have high collective efficacy while playing baseball but they may not have a high sense of collective efficacy in completing a science experiment. Thus, they should be put in another group when performing different tasks of task to allow each member the opportunity to achieve collective efficacy. Some groups can be picked based on who the children want to be with and other groups could be picked based on interest. A group’s cohesion, is related to the environmental aspect of the reciprocal determinism. The other group members are the environmental aspect that influences group cohesion and collective efficacy. Another aspect of the environmental reciprocal determinism, is the size of the group.

The size of groups affects group performance and group efficacy. A research study showed that groups of three had higher group efficacy than those in groups of seven [83]. In addition, group members in smaller groups are more likely to stay on topic and complete the task[84].The article suggested that the lack of group efficacy was due to the difficulty communicating within larger groups and multiple personal interest took over group goals. However, it was mentioned that the key to group size depends on the type of task at hand. Even though the article suggested that groups of three are good for multi motive tasks other tasks might produce higher group efficacy in larger groups[85]. This would explain why sports teams work together well even though they consist of a larger group of people. Thus, if you are getting students in the class to build a tower this is best done in small groups to reduce the lack of communication. However, activities such as trivia would be better suited to larger groups. This is because each child in a group will have different knowledge which will lead to better performance and higher group efficacy. Cohesion and group size are important aspects of a groups performance outcomes and efficacy.

Social Loafing[edit]

Social Loafing

The discussion so far has been about how to improve collective efficacy through specific and difficult goals, making groups interdependent, group cohesion, and adequate number of group members. One pitfall of group work is 'social loafing 'which is an environmental factor. This occurs when a group member or members do not pull their weight in a group project [86]. Ideally teachers would like to think that when they put students in groups that each one will contribute equally to the project. However, this is not the case as many students have experienced. There is always the one person in the group who never pulls their weight which has negative consequences for the other group members. Research has shown that when there is a group member that is not pulling their weight other group members put less effort into the project. This leads to a lower group performance and collective efficacy [87]. A way teachers can avoid this is to make specific and challenging goals, promote each group’s interdependence, group cohesion and use adequate number of students in each group. In addition to making sure that there is an evaluation at the end of the project that includes what contribution each person made to the project. This evaluation is best done with the other group members not present in order to make each member feel more comfortable about saying what each member truly contributed to the project. This type of evaluation will lead to the social loafer getting the grade he or she should receive for their contribution. This should also help with the other members still putting in adequate effort despite having a member who is a social loafer.

School efficacy[edit]

We have addressed three different efficacy’s in this chapter. Although they each have their own defining characteristics they are also similar. School efficacy is the belief of the school that the students can perform well, and this includes the students and the teachers. Research has found that if a school collectively feels incapable of improving the learning of the students both the students and the teachers efficacy decreased. In context, students who have high self-efficacy because they have done academically well before is related positively to school efficacy. Some factors that contributed specifically to school efficacy are the SES status of the students and the stability of the students. Students who come from low SES status and do not show up to class often affects the school efficacy negatively [88]. In order to promote a higher school efficacy both the students and the teachers efficacy need to improve. There are suggestions as to how to improve efficacy in previous sections.

Collective efficacy stems from self-efficacy and has similar factors that affect it. Those factors include enactive mastery, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, physiological and effective state, performance goals and persistence. However, collective efficacy is associated with being in a group and thus has some different factors that affect an individuals collective efficacy. These include group cohesion, interdependence of the group task, group size and the phenomena of social lofting.

Implications for Instruction[edit]

Self-Efficacy - Teaching Presence

Self-efficacy stands as a significant factor in fostering self-regulation in students and have proven to enhance the quality of their learning. This leads to its implications within a classroom that demands the consideration of other factors, such as teachers. One of the most significant drivers of a learning environment are the teachers themselves. It has been shown that an individual’s own perception of self-efficacy was the final determinant of their success and in addition to having successfully acquired the motivation and effort to use self-regulated learning strategies, a teacher may incorporate constructivist learning environments to encourage or enhance these behaviors. As shown in the venn diagram below, personal factors, academic behavioral performance and learning environments interrelate with one another, showing how one factor affects another. Adopting a student-centred approach to learning and teaching can lead to an increase in student involvement; exerting a positive influence on students’ affective and cognitive domains, as well as their perception of the learning environment [89]

Implications for teaching from the above discussed theories of especially task engagement and goal orientation suggest that team‐based learning is very successful when students take ownership of a complex problem, and engage the problem in a collaborative and systematic manner. Team‐based learning environments provide students with opportunities to solve complex problems resulting in their developing greater self‐confidence in their abilities. Understanding the relationship of goal‐setting in the learning process can facilitate a positive team effort experience for students through a learning and iterative process. Students, who successfully learned through collaboration, might be intrinsically motivated and self‐efficacious when placed in other team‐based learning settings. However, students who are inexperienced in this environment or who do not have sufficient knowledge of the subject might require additional guidance in order to have a satisfying experience. If this guidance is not provided, the experience could be not very satisfying, and thus have a negative effect on intrinsic motivation, self‐efficacy beliefs and team‐based learning in general. So, it might be more effective to expose upper class undergraduate students to collaborative learning projects, where it is assumed that they possess the minimum required subject knowledge so that they can successfully apply what they know to the experience: participate in collaborative activities involving critical thinking, and formulate creative and innovative solutions by setting goals.

Teacher efficacy can offer learning strategies that could be beneficial for students; Even though Craig’s et al (2009) [90] study found no relation between teacher efficacy and instructional quality, Teachers with high sense of efficacy can contribute to learning by providing other means to enhance learning such as providing constructive feedback. Teachers can be an important model for students, especially when they incorporate the individual needs of students. Teachers can encourage students to use both enactive and vicarious learning in order to enhance the learning process. Apparently, the most effective way of learning involves learning occurs when students can observe teachers performance, and have some opportunity to apply the learned skills on a similar task. For example, in a math problem, students might benefit from observing a teacher or peer solve a problem, as well as by solving the problem themselves; this allows students to apply the knowledge they learn by vicariously.

In order to promote collective efficacy in group settings teachers should make sure their performance goals are clear, specific and challenging. Making sure the students know exactly what is expected of them for specific tasks allows the students to develop collective efficacy.

Allowing for group cohesion with the right number of members in the group allows for better performance and overall higher collective efficacy. Group cohesion can be achieved by allowing students to pick their groups and let them work in their groups throughout the school year. In addition, making sure the groups are appropriate for the task at hand is essential. Smaller groups should be used for more intimate projects, larger groups should be used when vast knowledge is needed to complete the task, or in group sports the necessary number of players needed in order to play the sport.

Conclusion[edit]

Social cognitive theory provides a framework for the constant changing of human behavior. In order to be able to understand and predict such behaviors, it is important to consider the variables that interact amongst each other and how those interacting factors are determined. The essence of social cognitive theory based on the theory that learning is the product of observation. It also considers these foundational interacting variables that come together to explain Bandura’s concept of reciprocal determinism as the basics for the theory of social cognition. Our chapter outlines three different elements that contribute to the social cognitive theory as well as cognition and instruction. Within these elements include self-efficacy, enactive and vicarious learning, and collective efficacy. Self efficacy determines how an individual perceives their own abilities and the level of confidence they have for achieving their goals and well as their abilities. Drawing from self-efficacy, we move on to enactive and vicarious learning that represents the ways we acquire knowledge. Enactive learning refers to the way an individual learns something by doing it, and vicarious learning occurs through observation of others performing the given task. Both learning styles are used in different cases, but the use of both are proven to be the most successful. In relation to self-efficacy, learning through observation - vicarious learning - can improve self-efficacy as it gives individuals a chance to identify with a model and lead to self-regulation. Furthermore, collective efficacy explains the individual perception of success of the group. Bandura argues that collective efficacy greatly relates to self-efficacy as there are factors that influence both efficacies. These factors come back down to the influence of personal, behavioral and environmental components of the reciprocal determinism model.

It is said that environments and social systems are greater influences of human behavior; thus, the social cognitive theory justifies that different factors do not affect individual behavior in a direct manner, but instead affect them to a degree that influence other factors such as one’s aspirations, self-efficacy beliefs, personal standards, emotional states, and other self-regulatory influences (Pajares, 2002). Our chapter determines how these different influences and factors co-exist and affect the basic components of Bandura’s reciprocal determinism theory.

Suggested Readings[edit]

Burney, V. H. (2008). Applications of social cognitive theory to gifted education. Roeper Review, 30(2), 130-139. Effect of self- and group efficacy on group performance in a mixed-motive situation. Human Performance, 13(3), 279-298. doi:10.1207/S15327043HUP1303_3

Phan, H. P., & Ngu, B. (2014). Factorial equivalence of social cognitive theory: Educational levels × time differences. Educational Psychology, 34(6), 697-729. doi:10.1080/01443410.2013.814190

Schunk, D. H. (2012). Social cognitive theory. In K. R. Harris, S. Graham, T. Urdan, C. B. McCormick, G. M. Sinatra, J. Sweller, J. Sweller (Eds.) , APA educational psychology handbook, Vol 1: Theories, constructs, and critical issues (pp. 101-123). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association doi:10.1037/13273-005

Glossary[edit]

`Active observation: Observation that facilitates engagement with the material

Agency: capacity of a person to act in any given environment

Collaborative observing tutoring: Observation of the teaching interaction between a teacher and a student

Collective efficacy: This type of efficacy refers to the individual’s perspective of how well the group can accomplish their task.

Enactive learning: Learning by doing performing a task

Group Cohesion: Is an attraction to group members as well as group members who are interested in the same subject or have a collective mind.

Group efficacy: This type of efficacy refers to the group’s perspective as a whole in how well the group can accomplish their task

Goal Orientation: refers to the mental framework that influences how people approach situations of achievement in terms of interpreting the situation and motivation to achieve

Identification: Feeling close to a person that has similar characteristics as yours

Informational feedback: Feedback that helps improve performance

Learning: Act of acquiring new knowledge

Learning Orientation: aim of completing a task is to gain knowledge

Mastery experience: performance that leads to learning

Performance: Process of completing an action

Performance Orientation: aim of completing a task is to gain favorable judgments of one’s performance

Persistence Continuing in a course of action despite difficulties

Reciprocal determinism: term coined by Bandura to describe the foundation of his theory of social cognition— psychological functioning involves a continuous reciprocal interaction among behavioral, cognitive, and environmental influences

School efficacy: This type of efficacy refers to the school as a whole in relation to how they can effectively promote learning in their school. It is closely related to student and teacher efficacy.

Self-efficacy: how the individual perceives ones own abilities and the level of confidence for achieving goals from the perceived abilities

Self evaluation: Evaluating one self according to a standard

Self-regulated Learning Strategies Uses of students' strategies that regulate individual behaviour

Social comparison: Determine self worth by comparing ourselves to others

Social Lofting: This happens when one person in the group does less work than the other members in the group

Subjective operative capability: the concept that efficacy beliefs form the foundation of human agency as people need to believe that they can produce results by their actions in order or else the incentive or the reinforcement to act is very little

Teacher efficacy : teacher's own belief about their teaching skills

Verbal persuasion: convince someone to do a task by using verbal communication skills

Vicarious learning: Learning by observing others

Worked examples: Explanation of how to solve a problem

Volition Cognitive process that allows one to decide on committing to a course of action.

Reference[edit]

Woolfolk, A. E., & Hoy, W. K. (1990). Prospective teachers' sense of efficacy and beliefs about control. Journal Of Educational Psychology, 82(1), 81-91. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.82.1.81

Social Contexts of Learning[edit]

This chapter discusses beliefs about the social contexts of cognition, and how social and cultural factors can influence a child's development of mind (thoughts). In the subsequent sections of this chapter, we will discuss social cognition, situated cognition, Bronfenbenner's ecological model, the child in culture, social interaction/cognitive tools, socio-cultural contexts of learning, implications for instruction, and individual contextual differences. Situated cognition theory identifies features of the environment relevant to immediate conversational contexts, interpersonal relationships, and social group memberships. It also increases our understanding about how these features shape thoughts and actions. We also look into Bronfenbenner's ecological model and it's influence on a child's learning environment. In the socio-cultural context, Vygotsky theorized that human development was inseparable from cultural and social development and that these social interactions help children to develop cognitive tools. These cognitive tools develop skills specifically tied to an individual's personal culture and social experiences and include language/speech and cultural production. As time progresses, these skills become internalized in the zone of proximal development. In relation to instructional implications, placed based, culturally based, and cooperative learning techniques are discussed. It will help future educators use this theory and research effectively, and apply it to a practical classroom setting. Individual Contextual Differences have various influences on our cognitive development. It encompasses both Bronfenbrenner's theory about the influence of the microsystem and macrosystem in regards to child development and Vygotsky's theory on social and cultural factors being essential to cognitive development. Therefore, we look at how differences in societal, classroom and institutional settings have an effect on a child's cognitive development. The social context in which cognitive processes take place are highly influential in the development of mind.


Social Cognition[edit]

Social cognition focuses on the theory of mind. Theory of mind is a broad concept, encompassing and understanding the full range of mental states, as well as the antecedents and consequences of such understanding.The social context is made up not only of our relationships with specific others but also the groups we identify. As we continue to develop and associate with certain social groups, this becomes a part of our “social identity"[1]. These social groups establish norms, or standards for correct and appropriate beliefs, opinions, and behaviors. For example, it may be the "norm" to use inappropriate language with your friends, but not with your parents or family members . Such norms influence our behavior all the time, whether other members of the social groups are physically present or not. This social identity is activated by situational reminders of our social group membership or by our own intentional thought. Once this identity is activated, we tend to conform to that group’s norms. [1].

Social identities serve as behavioral guides for appropriate behavior. This can have some negative effects. If define social identity by our social group membership that we share with some people but not others, it divides the world into ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Shaping how we think about and behave toward other people. People on the ‘us’ side of the line, are considered group members and are therefore better liked.[2] In a school context, children can often become victims of bullying if they do not identify with a popular social group, and adopt a social identity that suits their peers "cultural norms".

In order to understand the development of social cognition and social identity, we must examine situated cognition. Cognition almost invariably occurs in the context of other people. It refers to the web of face-to-face encounters, personal relationships, and social group memberships that make us who we are. Not only do these social entities very frequently constitute the content of our thoughts and feelings, but they fundamentally shape the processes underlying our thinking and behavior as well. To detail some of the evidence for this broad claim, this chapter describes the interface of situated cognition, the ecological model of development, and the child in culture. The social context of cognitive development has to do with our thoughts and beliefs about the social world. It also refers to our beliefs about others, the self, people in general, specific aspects of people (e.g., thoughts, desires, emotions), social groups and social institutions[3]. Situated Cognition

Situated cognition is centered on the idea that knowing is “inseparable” from actually doing and highlights the importance of learning within context[4]. The Situated Cognition Theory is based upon principles related to the fields of anthropology, sociology, and cognitive sciences. Its main argument is that all knowledge that a learner acquires is somehow situated within activities that are social, physically or culturally-based. The Situated Cognition Theory mainly supports, that the acquisition of knowledge cannot be separated from the context in which this knowledge is collected. Therefore, a learner must grasp the concepts and skills that are being taught in the context in which they will eventually be utilized. As a result, instructors who are trying to apply this theory in their classes are encouraged to create an environment of full immersion, wherein students must be able to learn skills, as well as new ideas and behaviors that are taught in the context in which they will be used at a later time. Collins, Brown, & Duguid are creators of the situated cognition model, and believed that learning culture played a major role in education, and that learning by doing was an often overlooked approach[4].

Situated cognitive learning emphasizes that learning in the real world is not like studying in school. It is often describe as acculturation or adapting the norm, behavior, skills, belief, language, and attitudes of a particular community. This community might be mathematicians, gang member, writers, and students of any group that has particular ways of thinking and doing. Knowledge is seen not as individual cognitive structures but as a creation of the community over time. The practices of the community, the way of interacting and getting things done, as well as the tools the community has created constitute the knowledge of that community. Thus learning means becoming more able to participate in those practices and using the tools. Situated cognitive learning emphasizes the idea that much of what is learned is specific to the situation in which it is learned[3]. However, situated cognitive learning says that knowledge and skills can be applied across contexts, even if the context is different from the initial learning situation. For example, when you use your ability to read and calculate (which you learned in school), to complete your income taxes, even though learning how to do your taxes was not part of your original high school curriculum[5]. In this situation, the student would be applying their mathematics and reading skills which they learned in the classroom, to the real world. Demonstrating how situational learning can be applied across different contexts.

Situated cognition offers the key insight that cognition is for adaptive action, our minds evolved under the demands of survival rather than for detached puzzle-solving or abstract cognition. This principle implies the existence of close connections between cognition, motivation, and action. Cognition is generally not neutral and detached, but is biased by the individual’s motives and goals, with motives shaping our thoughts. Consider a person’s understanding of the meaning of traits (such as reliable, honest, or intelligent), which are basic components of our impressions of other people as well as ourselves[2]. Research shows that our definitions of such traits are not objective and invariant, but are shaped in self-serving ways by our own perceived understandings of those traits. Also the fundamental human need to belong shapes our social cognition. People experiencing a heightened need to belong, after a social rejection; tune their attention and cognition to process social information in the environment more carefully and thoroughly. This example of biases in cognition caused by the perceives motivational concerns effectively illustrate how social cognition serves the needs of adaptive action important in determining the course of cognition [6]. There is evidence that social-cognitive development and learning recognizes that individuals develop through reciprocal interactions, in which people contribute to an individuals development. These social interactions, are rooted in the situation in which it occurs. Research on reciprocal transactions between organisms and the environment is a basic feature of Brenfenbenner's ecological theory.[7] Social-cognitive learning states that a child's personality functioning differs among individuals. Personality is understood by reference to basic cognitive and effective structures and processes. These personality variables develop through experiences with one’s sociocultural environment. Social-cognitive development differentiates among a number of distinct cognitive capacities contributing to personality functioning. These include cognitive mechanisms that underlie skills and social competencies, knowledge structures through which people interpret or “encode” situations, self-reflective processes through which people develop beliefs about themselves and their relation to the social environment, and self-regulatory processes through which people establish personal goals and standards for performance and motivate themselves to reach desired ends[8]. In the next section, Bronfenbrenner's theory divides the community in which a child grows up into four systems. The community in which a child develops, will ultimately effect the situation in which the child learns, a child's interpersonal relationships and who they associate with. As previously mentioned, social cognition and situational cognition explain the development of a child's mind, but both can be largely influenced by a child's environmental context. Bronfenbrenner outlines some of these social contextual influences in his ecological model.

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Ecological Model[edit]

Bronfenbenner's Ecological Model

Ecological Model.gif

Bronfenbrenner provides an ecological model for understanding human development. He explains that children’s development within the socio-cultural context of the family, community, broader society and the educational setting. All have an impact on the developing child, because all the various contexts are interrelated. For example, even a child in a supportive, loving family within a healthy, strong community is affected by the biases of the larger society, such as racism, sexism or violence, and may show the effects of negative discrimination and stereotyping. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological context of child development and learning can be depicted as a series of concentric rings as with each system influencing and being influenced by the others[7] for example:

Microsystem

Bronfenbenner's theory: The microsystem is the system closest to the person and the one in which they have direct contact. Some examples would be home, school, daycare, or work. A microsystem typically includes family, peers, or caregivers. Relationships in a microsystem are bi-directional. In other words, your reactions to the people in your microsystem will affect how they treat you in return. This is the most influential level of the ecological systems theory.

Let's look at the microsystem in Marian lives. The first part of his microsystem is her home environment. This includes his interactions with her parents and little sister. Marian’s school is also part of her microsystem. Her regular school interactions are with her kindergarten teacher and the other children in his class[9].

Mesosystem

The next level of ecological systems theory is the mesosystem. The mesosystem consists of the interactions between the different parts of a person's microsystem. The mesosystem is where a person's individual microsystems do not function independently, but are interconnected and assert influence upon one another. These interactions have an indirect impact on the individual.

One aspect of Marian’s mesosystem would be the relationship between her parents and her teacher. Her parents take an active role in her school, such as attending parent/teacher conferences and volunteering in her classroom. This has a positive impact on her development because the different elements of her microsystem are working together. Marian’s development could be affected in a negative way if the different elements of her microsystem were working against one another[9].

Exosystem

The exosystem is the next level we will examine. The exosystem refers to a setting that does not involve the person as an active participant, but still affects them. This includes decisions that have bearing on the person, but in which they have no participation in the decision-making process. An example would be a child being affected by a parent receiving a promotion at work or losing their job.

One part of Marian’s exosystem would be his father's workplace. Marian’s father is in the Navy. This often takes her away from the family, and she sometimes does not see her father for months at a time. This situation impacts Marian, and she becomes anxious when her father leaves. Marian’s anxiety has an effect on his development in other areas such as school, even though she has no interaction with her father's work or say in the decision making process, but this may have impact her learning environment[9].

Macrosystem

The fourth level of ecological systems theory is the macrosystem. The macrosystem encompasses the cultural environment in which the person lives and all other systems that affect them. Examples could include the economy, cultural values, and political system. The macrosystem can have either a positive or a negative effect on a person's development. For an example, consider the different effects on the development of a child growing up in a third-world economy versus that of the United States.

Ecological theorists such as Bronfenbrenner[7] point to the importance of the settings and circumstances in which students live for understanding children’s behavior and establishing productive programs and policies to promote the development of children and youth. Teachers make many decisions that can be informed by an understanding of the context in which children live. These decisions include curricular and instructional decisions about materials and methods used in the classroom. Teachers’ guidance of children’s classroom learning can be fostered by understanding how the knowledge, practices, and language socialization patterns within children’s families and communities contribute to children’s ability to function in the classroom how to communicate and work with children’s families,[7] as well as how to promote children’s participation and positive social relations in the classroom influence by cultural and social context. The Child-in-Culture

The child in culture, it is important for teachers to learn about the culture of the majority of the children they serve if that culture differs from their own. Recognizing that learning and development are influenced by cultural and social context, it would be an impossible task to expect teachers/caregivers to understand all the nuances of every cultural group they may encounter in their practice. It is more important for teachers/caregivers to become sensitive to the knowledge of how their own cultural experience shapes their perspective and to realize that multiple perspectives must be considered in decisions about children’s learning and development, in addition to their own. Children have the learning ability and capability to function simultaneously in more than one cultural context. However, if teachers/caregivers set too low or too high expectations for children based on their home language and culture, children cannot learn and develop optimally and reach their full potential. The ideal would be for example, that children whose primary language is not English should be able to learn English without forcing them to give up their home language and to get a teacher/caregiver to translate or teach in both languages. Likewise, children who speak only English benefit from learning another language. The goal is that all children learn to function well in the society or even community as a whole and move comfortably among groups of people who come from both the same and different backgrounds[10]

In understanding the mind of the child (learner), teachers must also understand that each student is an individual who is developing a sense of self and relationships in a variety of contexts, notably the family, school, and community.[9] Hence, teachers considered themselves least knowledgeable about issues concerning diversity and schooling effects on students. This perception exists despite major efforts made at the national level to provide guidelines for preparing teachers to teach culturally diverse students.[11] Research suggests that there is both cause for concern and hope for improvement. For example, Hollingsworth,[12] indicate that novice teachers’ views of children are often inaccurate because they assume that their students possess learning styles, aptitudes, interests, and problems that are similar to their own.[12] Furthermore, recent research suggests that prospective teachers hold simplistic views of student differences have little knowledge about different cultural groups, may have negative attitudes toward those groups, they Teachers) may view diverse backgrounds of students as a problem, and have lower expectations for the learning of ethnic minority students.[12]

For some children, these points of difference may not have much effect. But for others, the mismatch between parental or community expectations and the expectations of the formal learning environment may leave the child feeling as if he or she is straddling two distinct worlds. How we think about child in culture can help us move toward greater sensitivity or, alternatively, can create additional roadblocks to our ability to engage and work with families. Early calls for cultural competency sometimes put forward a list of observed parenting traits of minority cultures with little explanation of how these aspects of culture may be part of a whole and with little understanding of the cultural participants’ intention behind these actions. This type of thinking, though well-meaning, can solidify stereotypes instead of helping us penetrate them. Educators, open to embracing the diverse cultures represented in their classrooms, had little guidance in how to achieve this sensitivity in more than just a superficial way. One observation notes that ironically, teachers may conscientiously try to create culturally sensitive environments for their students (e.g., through multicultural displays and activities) while simultaneously structuring classroom interaction patterns that violate invisible cultural norms of various non-dominant groups. Teachers may also inadvertently criticize parents for adhering to a different set of ideals about children, families and parenting[13].

Research have shown that in many content domains when children are asked to learn or solve problems based upon materials with which they are familiar, or in ways that make “human sense” they learn more rapidly. These relations between culture and learning do not fade away, but become even more pronounced as children move from early into middle childhood and adolescence. Consequently, those concerned with leveraging the power of culture to promote learning should take care to pay as much attention to the cultural enrichment of children as to their health and physical well-being, all of which play an especially important role during this period of extraordinarily rapid developmental change[13]. Cognitive Tools and Social Interaction

The previous sections have mentioned how a community influences cognition by determining the context in which a child learns about the social and cultural rules around them[5]. This community also determines the situation in which learning and cognitive development takes place. For example, a child who grows up in a rural town in Saskatchewan is going to have grown up in a very different community, when compared to a child who grew up in New York City. Their learning will have taken place in a classroom with different socio-cultural "norms". Although these skills can be transferred across situations, each child is going to develop a different set of cognitive tools that reflects the cultural and social environment they grew up in. Cognitive tools are specialized, and designed to guide a learner in following the "norm" behaviors dictated by a particular community[5].

In a community, there are many social interactions and processes. As time goes by, these social interactions define our patterns of thought and cognition. This social cognition refers to the information processing of social situations. Once this information is encoded, it is used in all other social interactions and applied to people. Due to this fact, early interactions will shape and serve as a template for future pro-social behaviors. These early interactions also influence our ways of thinking, and shape how we view the world. This type of situated cognition, refers to knowledge that is learned and developed through authentic activity [4]. Social interaction can serve as an important conceptual tool. They reflect the collective knowledge and wisdom of the culture in which they are used, and connect the insights and experiences of individuals[4]. These tools are understood through repeated use, and by interacting with others. Over time, these tools become implicit knowledge and shape your view of the world. Allowing you to adopt the belief system of the culture they are learned in. For example, Vygotsky states language is a cognitive tool produced through social interaction[14]. Language is tied to culture, and different languages have different semantic meanings, leading to differences in speech and cognition. These differences in socio-cultural acquisition influences an individuals thought patterns and beliefs[14]. In this way, social interaction creates cognitive skills, specifically tied to an individuals personal cultural and social experiences. In the following sections, we define Vygotsky's socio-cultural contexts, and explain how these contexts produce cognitive tools such as language, speech, and cultural production, and how these tools are learned through more knowledgeable others in the ZPD. Socio-Cultural Contexts of Learning

In the 1930’s, psychologist Lev Vygotsky developed a new socio-cultural theory of learning and development. His theory was conceived decades before Bronfenbenner's ecological model, although both psychologists emphasized the social and cultural context. At the time, Vygotsky's theory contrasted that of the popular child development theorist, Jean Piaget[14]. For his era, Vygotsky's theory of development was revolutionary. He stated that human development was inseparable from cultural and social development[14]. These social and cultural interactions lead to the development of higher cognitive processes such as language, and attention[14]. Vygotsky developed four basic principles of learning and knowledge. These are: knowledge is constructed, development cannot be separate from the social/cultural context, language plays a central role in mental development, and learning is facilitated through collaboration by working with "more knowledgeable others" [14].

The learning of these socio-cultural processes occurs through the cultural inventions of a society. Thus, development of conscious cognition is the result of social and cultural influences[14]. Vygotsky defined specific aspects of these social interactions as specialized cognitive tools. These tools become internalized as a learner progresses through the ZPD, and shape our thought patterns. Specifically, Vygotsky emphasized language, speech, and cultural production as highly influential cognitive tools produced through socio-cultural interaction. Vygotsky also stated, that these cognitive tools are learned and enforced through more knowledgeable others in the ZPD[14]. These concepts will be broken down, and explained in detail in the subsequent sections. Language and Speech

The development of cognitive processes, are shaped through communicative interactions in specific social situations of development[15]. Vygotsky, emphasized that speaking and thinking are unified, with two basic functions: revealing reality, and communicating meaning in social interactions. Through language, an individual’s cultural identity is formed, because children acquire knowledge in a specific cultural setting through familial and institutional influences[16]. As Bronfenbenner suggested, the ecological community in which learning takes place, influences developmental processes like language and speech[7]. Language initially serves as means of communication between the child, and people in the immediate environment[16]. However, upon conversion to internal speech, it affects how a child organizes his/her thoughts. It becomes an internal mental function[16]. For example, a child that grows up in an English western family, has a different dialect and system of values and beliefs compared to a child that grows up in rural India[15]. These differences can manifest in differing writing styles. This is because, each child has their own set of deliberate semantics, and words can have different meanings[15]. This is also known as, dialectic contradictions, which are historically accumulated structural tensions in a language[15]. These differences in the cultural context of language acquisition, manifest themselves in differing thought processes resulting in different cognitive and communicative interactions. This process of language/speech acquisition, can also be referred to as acculturation[4]. In this way, language is a cognitive tool as it has the ability to influence our patterns of thought.

Cultural Production[edit]

In previous sections, culture was defined as acculturation[5], or the process where a child learns and adopts the "norm" beliefs and values of a community. Each child learns these norms in different situational contexts and interactions. After repeated use, these norms become a part of a child's social identity, and determines the character of a child and future patterns of behavior and thought[5]. Culture can be produced through language and speech, the learning of cultural norms from elders of a group with mastery social skills (ZPD), and by a community[4].

Culture plays a dominant role in shaping social interactions, and the development of cognitive processes. It is a tool that is changeable, and created during a child’s early social lives[14]. Cultural production can occur at two levels: institutional (macrosystem), and intrapersonal (microsystem). In an institutional setting, this refers to the larger social context such as school settings, political context etc. An interpersonal setting would refer to interactions between each other , such as peer to peer interactions[14]. An individuals overall cultural history, is responsible for producing useful cognitive tools that are accumulated over time [14]. Eventually, this leads to the internalization of culturally valued skills and behaviors, making these cognitive processes automatic[14]. A culture creates special forms of behaviors, which are specific to a specific cultural history[15]. These structures affect problem solving capacities, and patterns of social interactions. To examine these differences, psychologists can conduct cross-cultural studies. An example of a cross-cultural study, could include investigating how some cultures don’t believe in displaying knowledge overtly, compared to cultures where that is considered a good thing. Vygotsky states that culture is developed and produced through processes of social interactions, and through active agents in the immediate development context.

Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)[edit]

Vygotsky theorized that learning largely occurs in a child’s ZPD. It mostly takes place in Bronfenbrenner's microsystem level of the ecological model. He defined this as “the distance between the actual developmental level, as determined by actual problem solving, and the level of potential development under adult guidance or in collaboration with a more capable peer[17] .” This form of social interaction occurring between the student and “more knowledgeable others,” serves as a cognitive tool for developing higher learning processes[17]. In a classroom setting, a more knowledgeable other includes any active agents such as teachers, supervising adults, or peers[17] . There are three levels of a learners developmental progress in the ZPD over time (see figure 2 [17]). These three levels are the actual level, potential level and realized level[17]. The actual level refers to what a learner is able to accomplish without assistance. It refers to the actual base level of knowledge a student possesses on their own[17]. Whereas, the potential level is how well a learners performs with assistance by a more knowledgeable other[17]. A student has the capability to achieve this potential level of knowledge through collaboration. For example, a tutor is helping a grade two student learn grade three level mathematics. On their own, the student is able to readily solve grade two mathematics problems. Since this student possesses a strong actual level of mathematics, the student can be taught grade three level mathematics by collaborating with a more knowledgeable tutor. Eventually, through rehearsal and practise, the student is able to complete grade three mathematics problems on their own. This is referred to as their realized level of knowledge. Three Stages of ZPD Progression

Figure 2.[17] Adapted from “The Mediation of learning in the Zone of Proximal Development through a Co-Constructed Writing Activity,” by Thompson, 2013 Research In The Teaching Of English, 47(3), p.259

Essential to this theory, is that the level of knowledge being learned must be more advanced than what the student currently knows [17]. Teachers can also use scaffolding, which uses a student’s prior knowledge to help give students a base level of information They can use this to build more complex concepts[17]. Like in the example, the tutor built off the students prior knowledge of grade two mathematics, and made sure the material was more advanced than what the student currently knew. Before a student attempts to master a new skill, they can be given supplemental information to introduce them to the new material. This can include artifacts such as: books, videos, textbooks, and computer technology[17]. These artifacts act as priming agents for learners, and ease the learning transition to more complex concepts. By using the ZPD as a cognitive tool, instructor’s can approach mastery of more difficult skills through collaborative classroom strategies. See figure two for further explanation learning through the ZPD[17].

Learning in the ZPD.jpg

Figure 3[17]. Stages of Learning in ZPD. Adapted from “The Mediation of learning in the Zone of Proximal Development through a Co-Constructed Writing Activity,” by Thompson, 2013 Research In The Teaching Of English, 47(3), p.257 Implications for Instruction

The social lives of school children, can have many instructional effects. As previously mentioned, the situation in which information is learned, level of difficulty, collaboration with more knowledgeable others, level of social cognition/competency, and cultural production, all have differing instructional effects in the classroom. Each student has a different cultural history, that influences their patterns of thinking, and how they approach solving problems in the classroom. Teaching should incorporate the situation and use conceptual tools[4]. Learning should involve, the activity, concept, and culture. For example, teaching children the definition of words. It is simply not enough to have them write out definitions from the dictionary, in an abstract way[15]. Learning words, must take place in an authentic way, and relate to the cultural situation in which the word is defined and used in speech[4]. The next section will discuss how some of the previous social and cultural factors can be mediated through instructional methods. Some useful pedagogies for instructors that will be discussed are place based and cooperative learning strategies.

Place-based Instruction[edit]

One way of taking otherwise abstract concepts and rooting them in culturally meaningful pedagogy, is a method known as place based instruction. It uses both ideas about situated cognition and Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory. The environment in which we learn and situation in which the learning takes place, is responsible for co-creating our knowledge. A place based learning approach is suited for the multi-cultural classroom. If focuses on transforming the traditional classroom environment, into a place that engaging for all types of learners[18]. At its core, it links place to cultural struggles, and aims to empower diverse learners through the integration of local cultural knowledge[18].

Main Focuses of Place Based Pedagogy[18]:

1. Support thinking about a system using the “bigger picture”

2. Connect students to lived experiences- creating meaning through place based instruction

3. Foster Reflexive Inquiry

4. Regulate and Control How Ethnically Diverse Learners Organize their Identity

One way this pedagogy can be implemented in the classroom is by creating a community garden. It is a creative way of incorporating language, culture, and environment by increasing feelings of interconnectedness[18]. A community garden is open to all, and provides a green space for children in urban areas. It creates a setting for social interactions to take place through the cooperative planning, designing, and execution of a garden and all its elements[18]. The garden is a great way of creating conversation between students about local and self-cultural identity[18]. Students can research herbs related to their cultural background, and report to the class the various cultural ways in which the herb is used culturally like in, cuisine, medicine, or religion[18]. They can then plant these herbs in the garden, tying place with the construction of their knowledge. This also allows for peers to create conversations about cultural differences, fostering reflexive inquiry [18]. The place based framework, examines how a culture and local environment makes up the community and culture of the school. This method also allows ethnically diverse learners to, self-identify their cultural values, and decide what they want to share. This control and the self-regulation of their own identity, can help grow self-regulated learning as well[18].

Culture-Based Education and Its Relationship to Student Outcomes

Adapted from: Kana‘iaupuni, S., Ledward, B., & Jensen, U. (2010). Culture-based education and its relationship to student outcomes. EDUCATION.

Figure 4. "Hawaiian Cultural Influences in Education Study Model[19]"

In a study by Kana‘iaupuni[19], they explored the kinds of teaching strategies being used in Hawaiian classrooms and investigated the impact of teachers’ use of culturally based education strategies (CBE), on student socio-emotional development and educational outcomes. Cultural relevance in education was shown to have direct effects on student socio emotional factors such as self-worth, cultural identity, and community/family relationships. It was also shown to have direct and indirect effects on educational outcomes, such as student engagement, achievement, and behaviour[19] (Kana‘iaupuni, 2010). In Figure 1, it shows the reciprocal interrelating relationship between CBE, educational outcomes, and socio-emotional development. Adapted from: Kana‘iaupuni, S., Ledward, B., & Jensen, U. (2010). Culture-based education and its relationship to student outcomes. EDUCATION.

Figure 5: "School Engagement Among Hawaiian Students By Teacher CBE Use[19]"

The results of the of the study show (see figure 5[19]) that teachers who use CBE methods in the classroom have higher levels of student self-efficacy and trust, than students with Low CBE Teachers. Students exposed to high levels of CBE by their teachers are also more likely to be engaged in schooling than others, by putting cultural skills to use in their communities and forming trusting relationships with teachers and staff[19]. In the study, they used methodology involved in place based pedagogy[18]. They took into account the local environment and interwove it into the curriculum. Students took part in classes teaching Hawaiian culture, and and/environmental stewardship[18]. The study illustrates how place based pedagogy can significantly improve students rates of self-efficacy and trust in the classroom when teachers use a high amount of CBE/place based curriculum[19]. Cooperative Learning

In Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, he emphasized the importance and role of peer collaboration and learning. Cooperative based learning refers to intentional learning activities, where group members work towards a shared learning goal[20]. It is different from classroom “group work,” as group work does not always guarantee actual learning will take place . The goal of cooperative based learning is to understand that each learner brings their own particular set of skills to the table[20]. If differs from collaborative learning, because students are not trying to improve a weak skill, but rather identify the skills they excel in and use them to help the group.For example, Amy may struggle with abstract concepts like mathematics, but has a great imagination (Also, see figure 3[20]). She is grouped together with students who excel with abstract concepts, but struggle thinking imaginatively. This way, students are able to share their skills, and teach each other. This is known as reciprocal teaching, where learners are able to teach other members of their group[20]. By working towards achieving their common learning goal, students must combine their different skill sets to solve the problem. It can help students see different perspectives on how to approach problem solving activities[20].

The Five Steps to Achieve Cooperative Learning in the Classroom[20]

1. Give Specific Learning Objectives

2. Plan out learning strategies, and composition of groups

3. Explain the learning objective

4. “monitor-observe” the students

5. Assess the achievement and cooperation of students

Some examples of cooperative learning strategies for the classroom are the jigsaw method and group investigation method[20]. In the jigsaw method, students are divided into groups. Then, one member from each group is sent to a special group to learn about a specific course topic. Once students individually read the material, they discuss and reflect upon the material as a group, making note of its key points[20]. Lastly, each student returns to their original groups. After their peers read the material, the student sent to the special group leads their group discussion, reflecting on the topics key points. The premise of this strategy is to have the students in each group teach each other, and become better self-regulatory learners[20]. In the group investigation method, students are first divided into groups. They are then given information about a specific course topic, and read through the material individually, and are asked to make note of its key points[20]. After this, the group discusses the material collectively, reflecting on its key points, and could be asked to prepare a presentation for the class.This strategy promotes group dialogue and aims at cultivating social interaction skills. Cooperative learning, is a strategy that instructors can use in the classroom to promote social cognitive growth, and increase student's performance[20]. In the next section, we discuss how social cognitive processes are affected by macrosystem influences, such as individual contextual differences in societal, classroom, and institutional settings. Individual Contextual Differences

The cognitive development process can be differed individually. Lots of aspects of social context can have varies of influences on our cognitive development, Such as: intelligence, environment factors, learning opportunities, economics status, family and society. As previously mentioned, the social and cultural context in which learning takes place, greatly affects our cognitive growth. Theories like situated cognition, Bronfenbenner's ecological model, and Vygotsky' socio-cultural theory, discuss how macrosystem influences such as the cultural environment, make up our implicit views on the world. In this section, we will look into how different classrooms, different institution and society can affect our cognition and how do we do to improve this development.

The problem of boys having lower graduation rates, greater worries about intimacy and relationships are touched upon to suggest some reasons behind it. Using the internet and accessing pornography are acting as arousal addictions that have negative effect on social life of boys. Lots of documents shows the problems of women getting misrepresented, objectified and sexuality are evident in our societies’ status quo. The society and media is often portraying women as object for sex and beauty, demising women’s actual capabilities. We should advocate the need to value women’s capabilities and encourage them to discover their true power.. Simply put, media is any device or system that we humans use to accomplish our goals. The wheel, an oar, an abacus, a hammer, a toothpick, and a TV set are various examples[21].

These influences heavily affect development of the authentic self for both males and females negatively. Being authentic self is being who you really are, knowing your personal why, discovering your capabilities and expressing your inner self to others. These are real, genuine and authentic which comes from your heart. The problem with the media is that they are portraying cognition of what it means to be ideal women or men that are accepted by the society. Often, these perfect images of beauty, success and satisfaction are falsely created by media often to get more people’s attention and money. Thus, people start to take in what the media tells them to be rather than finding their own true beauty, capabilities, and values that are truly meaningful for themselves. For that reason, the media exposure simply makes us to seek what is ideal in our society instead of genuine values that are found within self-discovery so lots of people are developing a wrong cognition because of that. In order to sustain the authentic life, we need to have a clear sense of values and define our view of life that comes from inner self. Our own clear vision, belief, goal, and mind act as a firm pillar that support from being impressionable person who easily get swayed by society and media influence. Therefore, we can prevent ourselves from following other people’s values.When movies and television first appeared predictions were made that they would replace most, if not all, classroom instruction[21]

The notion that these media companies are “giving us what the public want” is concerning because they’re actually just giving us what the media companies and advertisers want, and manipulating viewers in believing that it is our fault for the brainless content that’s being produced. It’s also a problem that men make up the majority of the board of these reputable media companies because the way women are represented is inaccurate and are often times exploited through the views of white, capitalist male elites who take no interest in genuine women empowerment. On the other hand, although men aren’t as demonized via media as women are, they still do struggle with radical stereotypes, biases, and discrimination. In Demise of Guys, Atherton mentions that men are constantly exposed to explicit content such as pornography, creating an “arousal addiction[22].” Men are also constantly shown “ideal” images of masculinity where there is a lack of emotional representation and here, problems in intimacy and relationships will start to manifest.

These media influences affect the development of the authentic self for both females and males in a sense that when they are exposed to inaccurate representations without knowledge on the corporate strategy behind it, they will be easily manipulated into believing that who they are and how they look isn’t good enough. Especially for girls and boys who are exposed to explicit and exploitative content at a young age, they will start to believe that what they see on media is their reality. When in reality, everyone is different – we come in all shapes, sizes, and color – and it’s important to base your beauty from within rather than from the physical.Educators increasingly are aware of media’s potential for changing how learning and teaching take place. Even though education continues to lag behind other segments of society in using media[21]. Media likes to hyper-sexualize women and pit them against each other while romanticizing the male character for their strength and independence. Although some women and men might prefer to play that role in reality, we would possibly live in a different society if we focused on issues such as gender equality, health and fitness, and educated viewers on the reality of the world instead of the dream. Classroom

We should value children’s competencies in learning, focusing on self-directed learning approach.We should value children’s competencies in learning, focusing on self-directed learning approach. Rather than simply throwing information and knowledge at children, it is important to acknowledge that they are capable, competent learners who are not helpless. Children are competent enough to be innovated by learning, creating changes and solving problems. We should also emphasize design thinking approach where children are engaged in real life context to solve problems and create solutions. Thus, the opportunities actively engage children to be part of a community member. They can highly relate their learning in their real life that matters and is meaningful. We should be providing real tools and materials to build real things where children have an access to these materials for their creative ideas of invention. The social contexts of cognition and learning have obvious applications to the classroom. As any teacher knows, the classroom is above all a social environment and teaching is a form of social interaction that affects group collaboration, motivation, learning and even use of technology[23].

One of the strength of these kind of learning approaches is that these encourage children to form great cognitions and fulfill their potentials. By recognizing children’s capacities to think, learn, and change will help them to see their learning abilities. Also, these approaches of learning are very good for children to enjoy and have some fun. Because it requires children to come up with their own creative ideas and solutions, they can have more interest in what they do and learn throughout the process. The weakness in these approaches is the possible financial problem. Many resources and materials are probably needed for children to access that could cost quite of bit of money. If these approaches of learning are incorporated in other regular classes, funding will be needed and not all schools can afford it as they wish.

The self-directed learning approach can help students to be engaged in what they learn and do with genuine interests[24]. Also, being in the field rather than simply staying in the classroom can motivate them better. Thus, the learning can be made more effectively. For instance, whenever students go to a field trip to learn about certain thing with their own eyes, it got me more interested and motivated. Do you still vividly remember when you went to Science World, different kinds of museums, and Camps where you got to participate in activities that engaged you actively? The answer will be yes. Institutional

The whole education system is seems like "Building a house", and the base or the foundation construction is the most important part for a building, just like the meaning of the elementary education for the whole education system[24]. Lots of schools are ranked according to standardized testing, but the author didn't told us is this kind of practice is right or wrong, good or bad. However, school ranking in some way is good, they may help schools to improve themselves by comparative. But with my personal experience, the ranking by testing for student is not good and really make me stressful in my whole middle and high school. In China, school ranking and ranking students in all schools is very universal, they divide student into two classes, good and bad. Then, the parents who wants their child get in the good school or class, they will pay a lot money and time for them. This classification is serious influence and hurt students' self-esteem and enthusiasm for learning and study. In conclusion, in view of all its defects and the harmful effects of university and schools, why would anyone pay attention to the school ranking?

"when the teaching begins, educators must ask, who are the students, what are their particular needs, and what do they bring to the classroom?" points out the importance of student in teaching and curriculum design as well as the whole education process. When a school designs their education methods, they should consider the students themselves. What is their goal of learning? How will students' own value, culture and experience influence their learning? And what can teachers learn from the students? If remembering the questions when designing and implementing curriculum, I think the curriculum can better cope with students' needs.

We do have pressure on curriculum, which includes technology, culture, economy and environment, etc. When designing and implementing curriculum, it is also very important to consider these factors that will influence students' learning goals, needs, etc. For example, a curriculum for in-class course may greatly differ from a distance course.

The problem of boys having lower graduation rates, greater worries about intimacy and relationships are touched upon to suggest some reasons behind it. Using the Internet and accessing pornography are acting as arousal addictions that have negative effect on social life of boys. Lots of documents shows the problems of women getting misrepresented, objectified and sexuality are evident in our societies’ status quo. The society and media is often portraying women as object for sex and beauty, demising women’s actual capabilities. We should advocate the need to value women’s capabilities and encourage them to discover their true power.

These influences heavily affect development of the authentic self for both males and females negatively. Being authentic self is being who you really are, knowing your personal why, discovering your capabilities and expressing your inner self to others. These are real, genuine and authentic which comes from your heart. The problem with the media is that they are portraying cognition of what it means to be ideal women or men that are accepted by the society. Often, these perfect images of beauty, success and satisfaction are falsely created by media often to get more people’s attention and money. Thus, people start to take in what the media tells them to be rather than finding their own true beauty, capabilities, and values that are truly meaningful for themselves. For that reason, the media exposure simply makes us to seek what is ideal in our society instead of genuine values that are found within self-discovery so lots of people are developing a wrong cognition because of that. In order to sustain the authentic life, we need to have a clear sense of values and define our view of life that comes from inner self. Our own clear vision, belief, goal, and mind act as a firm pillar that support from being impressionable person who easily get swayed by society and media influence. Therefore, we can prevent ourselves from following other people’s values.

The notion that these media companies are “giving us what the public want” is concerning because they’re actually just giving us what the media companies and advertisers want, and manipulating viewers in believing that it is our fault for the brainless content that’s being produced. It’s also a problem that men make up the majority of the board of these reputable media companies because the way women are represented is inaccurate and are often times exploited through the views of white, capitalist male elites who take no interest in genuine women empowerment. On the other hand, although men aren’t as demonized via media as women are, they still do struggle with radical stereotypes, biases, and discrimination. In Demise of Guys, Atherton[22] mentions that men are constantly exposed to explicit content such as pornography, creating an “arousal addiction.” Men are also constantly shown “ideal” images of masculinity where there is a lack of emotional representation and here, problems in intimacy and relationships will start to manifest.

These media influences affect the development of the authentic self for both females and males in a sense that when they are exposed to inaccurate representations without knowledge on the corporate strategy behind it, they will be easily manipulated into believing that who they are and how they look isn’t good enough. Especially for girls and boys who are exposed to explicit and exploitative content at a young age, they will start to believe that what they see on media is their reality. When in reality, everyone is different – we come in all shapes, sizes, and color – and it’s important to base your beauty from within rather than from the physical.

Media likes to hyper-sexualize women and pit them against each other while romanticizing the male character for their strength and independence. Although some women and men might prefer to play that role in reality, we would possibly live in a different society if we focused on issues such as gender equality, health and fitness, and educated viewers on the reality of the world instead of the dream. Conclusion

In conclusion, from a socio-cultural perspective there are many social influences on cognitive development. As previously stated, the socio cultural context of cognition is explained through social and situated cognition, cultural production, social interaction and cognitive tools, socio-cultural theory, and individual contextual differences.Through social interaction students learn social cognition and develop cognitive tools. Individual differences in socio-cultural contexts are influenced by those closest to you. Over time these differences are internalized, and affect your cognition, thought patterns, and views about the world. As learners, we are influenced by macrosystem factors outside our control. This includes societal, individual, classroom, and institutional differences in contexts and situations of learning. This can have many instructional implications, and calls for more place based and cooperative classroom pedagogies, Research has stated that situated learning has an increasing influence on education. The ecological model also states that in order to understand human development, one must consider the entire ecological system in which growth occurs. As discussed, recent research suggests that prospective teachers hold simplistic views of student differences. They have little knowledge about different cultural groups. In fact, they may have negative attitudes toward those groups, and view the diverse backgrounds of students as a problem, and have lower expectations for the learning of ethnic minority students. In the development of children, there are many social processes of interaction. These early interactions will shape and serve as a template, for future pro social behaviours. The social context can have various of influences on our cognitive development. Such as : intelligence, environment factors, learning opportunities, economics status, family and society. In order to be effective instructors, one must take into account the social-cultural perspective, and account for the social influences on cognitive development. Glossary

Acculturation: adapting the norm, behavior, skills, belief, language, and attitudes of a particular community[4].

Cognitive development: Cognitive development is a field of study in neuroscience and psychology focusing on a child's development in terms of information processing, conceptual resources, perceptual skill, language learning, and other aspects of brain development and cognitive psychology compared to an adult's point of view[4].

Dialectic contradictions: Historically accumulated structural tensions in a language. . Each child, has their own set of deliberate semantics. Therefore, words can have different meanings according to each child[15].

Ecological model: An ecosystem model is an abstract, usually mathematical, representation of an ecological system (ranging in scale from an individual population, to an ecological community, or even an entire biome), which is studied to gain understanding of the real system[7].

Exosystem: The exosystem refers to a setting that does not involve the person as an active participant, but still affects them. This includes decisions that have bearing on the person, but in which they have no participation in the decision-making process. An example would be a child being affected by a parent receiving a promotion at work or losing their job[9].

Macrosystem: The macro-system encompasses the cultural environment in which the person lives, in the larger sociological context. This level of the ecological model often influences students without them even knowing it, leading to implicit beliefs or beliefs shared by a culture. Examples could include the economy, cultural values, and political system[9].

Mesosystem. The mesosystem consists of the interactions between the different parts of a person's microsystem. The mesosystem is where a person's individual microsystems do not function independently, but are interconnected and assert influence upon one another. These interactions have an indirect impact on the individual. For example, the relationship between parent and teacher, can have an indirect impact on a students learning[9].

Microsystem: The system closest to the person and the one in students have have direct contact. Some examples would be home, school, daycare, or work. A microsystem typically includes family, peers, or caregivers[9].

Place based instruction: The environment in which we learn and situation in which the learning takes place, is responsible for co-creating our knowledge. A place based learning approach is suited for the multi-cultural classroom. It focuses on transforming the traditional classroom environment, into a place that is engaging for all types of learners[18].

Scaffolding: building of a students prior knowledge to learn new or difficult concepts[17].

Situated Cognition: A theory based upon principles related to the fields of anthropology, sociology and cognitive sciences. Its main argument is that all knowledge a learner acquires is somehow situated within activities that are socially, physically or culturally-based[4].

Social cognition: A subtopic of social psychology that focuses on how people process social information (especially its encoding, storage, and retrieval) and how this information is applied to social situations, other people, and social interactions[4].

Social Context: refers to the immediate physical and social setting in which people live or in which something happens or develops. It includes the culture that the individual was educated or lives in, and the people and institutions with whom they interact[4].

Zone of proximal development: The zone of proximal development, often abbreviated as ZPD, is the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do with help[17]. Suggested Readings

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1999). Environments in developmental perspective: Theoretical and operational models. In Measuring environment across the life span : emerging methods and concepts(1st ed., pp. 3-28). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

Brown et al., (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 32- 42

Campbell, F. A., Pungello, E. P., & Miller-Johnson, S. (2002). The development of perceived scholastic competence and global self-worth in African American adolescents from low income families: The roles of family factors, early educational intervention, and academic experience. Journal of Adolescent Research, 17, 277-302.

Poch, S. (2005). Higher education in a box. International Journal of Educational Management 19(3), 246-258. doi:10.1108/09513540510591020

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. References

Miller, S. A. (2010). Social-cognitive development in early childhood.interactions, 20, 21. Turner, J. C., Hogg, M. A., Oakes, P. J., Reicher, S. D., & Wetherell, M. S. (1987). Rediscovering the social group: A self-categorization theory. Cambridge, MA, US: Basil Blackwell, Inc. Smith, E. R., & Conrey, F. R. (2009). The social context of cognition.Cambridge handbook of situated cognition, 454-466. Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational researcher, 18(1), 32-42. Anderson, J. R., Reder, L. M., & Simon, H. A. (1996). Situated learning and education. Educational researcher, 25(4), 5-11. Smith, E. R., & Conrey, F. R. (2009). The social context of cognition.Cambridge handbook of situated cognition, 454-466. Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. A. (1998). The ecology of developmental processes. Cervone, D., Shadel, W. G., & Jencius, S. (2001). Social-cognitive theory of personality assessment. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 5(1), 33-51. Bronfenbrenner’s, U. (2011). YOUTH, Science TEACHING AND Learning. Böhmer, W. (2009). An investigation into the inclusion of child development in early childhood programs (Doctoral dissertation). Gay, G. (2000). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. New York, NY:Teachers College Press Hollingsworth, S. (1989). Prior beliefs and cognitive change in learning to teach. American educational research journal, 26(2), 160-189. Maschinot B. (2000). The Changing Face of the United States The Influence of Culture on Early Child Development: 2000 M St., NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036-3307 (202) 638-1144 Rogoff, B., & Morelli, G. (1989). Perspectives on children's development from cultural psychology. American Psychologist, 44343-348. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.44.2.343 Mahn, H. h. (2012). Vygotsky's Analysis of Children's Meaning Making Processes. International Journal Of Educational Psychology,1(2), 100-126. doi:10.4471/ijep.2012.07 Reunamo, J. J., & Nurmilaakso, M. (2007). Vygotsky and agency in language development. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 15(3), 313-327. doi:10.1080/13502930701679320 Thompson, I. (2013). The Mediation of learning in the Zone of Proximal Development through a Co-Constructed Writing Activity. Research In The Teaching Of English, 47(3), 247-276. Sloan, C. (2013). Transforming Multicultural Classrooms through Creative Place-Based Learning. Multicultural Education, 21(1), 26-32 Kana‘iaupuni, S., Ledward, B., & Jensen, U. (2010). Culture-based education and its relationship to student outcomes. EDUCATION. Clapper, T. t. (2015). Cooperative-Based Learning and the Zone of Proximal Development. Simulation & Gaming, 46(2), 148-158. doi:10.1177/1046878115569044 Bruning, R., Schraw, G., & Norby, M. (2010). Cognitive psychology and instruction (5th ed). Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. ISBN: 978-0132368971 Atherton J S (2013) Doceo; Assignment Presentation Guidelines [On-line: UK] retrieved 2 March 2016 from http://www.doceo.co.uk/academic/assignment_presentation.htm#Referencing Lajoie, K& Azevedo, J (1992). Laughter and stress Humor, 5, 43-355. Dobbin, F. 2004. The New Economic Sociology: A Reader. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Social emotional learning (SEL) is the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes to effectively manage and understand emotions in social settings. SEL programs teach children to establish positive relationships while making responsible decisions in the school setting. SEL is intended to provide a foundation for socialization and achievement in school and later life.[91] There are five competencies identified within SEL: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.[92] These competencies enhance students' understanding of themselves and others around them. This chapter examines the theory, research and application of the five SEL competencies.

Self-Management[edit]

Self-management is the management of one’s emotions, behaviours, and thoughts in a variety of situations. There are three approaches to social emotional learning: positive youth development (PYD), critical youth empowerment (CYE), and sociopolitical development (SPD). The approach that relates to self-management the most is PYD. PYD uses a variety of activities and experiences to assist young people in building their social and emotional competence in the society[93]. These activities and experiences allow young people to build an attitude towards their capability at different stages of their life. It is important to develop a positive attitude because attitude is the way of thinking or feeling that is reflected in one's behaviour. In order to maintain a positive attitude, one need to learn their capability on managing stress, motivating oneself, controlling impulses, and setting toward achieving personal and academic goals[94]. In an educational setting, self-management is an essential component for young people to grasp. Stress is often the feeling that occurs to young people the most often in school. Self-management will benefit young people by preventing a mental breakdown and have methods of calming oneself. So through the PYD activities and experiences, young people can learn how to self-manage their social and emotional competence.

Managing Emotions

Emotions are an instinctive or intuitive feeling derived from reasoning or knowledge. Being able to manage emotions is important because it can either affect an individual’s behaviour in a positive or negative way. Every individual has different methods of coping with emotions; it just comes down to the individual's self-management skills. An individual first self-manages through learning how to manage stress, motivate oneself, control impulses, and set toward achieving personal and academic goals[95]. Research has shown that stress is one of the factors affect a student’s level of functioning. Academic stress is when a student feels they lack the skills, emotions, and time to effectively perform a given task[96]. Under stressful conditions, it is difficult for students to manage their emotions because majority of the time, they feel helpless about a task. Motivation can be one of the best methods to manage emotions. Motivation gives an individual the drive to set towards achieving their personal and academic goals. Throughout that process, an individual can maintain positive when they think about what their accomplished goal or the reward (if any) at the end of the goal. In a school setting, student motivation is called autonomous motivation. Autonomous motivation is undertaking an activity because of its meaningfulness and relevance[97]. Students are more motivated to pursue activities that made more meaningful to them by their educators. It is called autonomous motivation because the educators will mold a classroom environment that allows students to make choices of their own in classroom interactions. According to a research done on social emotional learning skills such as motivation and managing stress, these skills are good indicators of future academic outcomes[98]. The research was conducted towards high school students. The results showed that students who had lower social emotional learning skills academically scored in the bottom 25%, and students with high social emotional learning skills academically scored in the top 25%[99]. Students who saw college as an important journey or goal in life was reflected in their grade point average (GPA) after their first year of high school. If there is a steady or significant increase in a student’s GPA, this means they had the motivation to work towards getting admitted into college. By improving students’ social emotional learning skills, students will become more self-regulated and engaged learners[100]. Becoming self-regulated means to become autonomous by controlling their own emotions and behaviour. Self-regulated students will be able to effectively seek motivational goals to pursue. They will also be able to seek methods that can sufficiently cope with their stress.

Classroom Management

In an educational setting, classroom management is one of the contributing factors to students' self-management. Classroom management is the teacher's knowledge about student's behaviour and development, as well as developing strategies and practices that would assist students[101]. With this knowledge, teachers can pass down the tools necessary for students to successfully manage their own behaviour. For students to gain the capability of managing their behaviours in a classroom, they must first learn how to regulate their own emotions. For example, if a student knows how to calm their own emotions and be patient, chances are they will be less disruptive in class. However, students are not the only ones who must learn how to regulate their own emotions. As an educator of the students, they must learn how to regulate their emotions before becoming a role model for the students. As a role model, the teacher demonstrates proper solutions on handling situations, as well as creating positive relationships with every student in the class[102]. Creating positive relationships with the students will allow the teacher to understand them better. This way, teachers can develop better strategies and practices tailored to each student’s needs.

There are four principles of effective classroom management[103] :

Four Principles of Effective Classroom Management Details
1. Planning and Preparation Teachers have a clear lesson plan for the day so transitions between activities will be smooth.
2. Extension of the Quality of Relationships in the Classroom Creating positive relationships with students will decrease the possibilities of classroom disruptions.
3. Management is Embedded in the Environment Teachers use materials to support their teaching routines (eg: using charts or pictures)
4. Ongoing Processes of Observation and Documentation Teachers need to consistently reflect upon their management skills to see if it is working effectively.

The main purpose of these principles is to allow educators to gain the skills to prevent the worst case scenarios. This means being planning ahead of time so educators will not panic and handle the situations ahead of them. These principles are not to prepare educators on how to react, but how to prevent and build skills[104]. Reaction is how the educator manages and expresses their emotions during a situation, whereas prevention will allow the educators think ahead of time and prepare for the worst. In doing so, this promotes organization and educators will have control over the classroom. A technique that could be used to gain control over the classroom is enforcing a daily routine. This routine could be used when transitioning between activities[105] or to get the class to quiet down. For example, if an educator wants to get the students' attention, they could clap their hands in a rhythm and have the students follow. By doing so, this enforces positive behaviour from the students and students will manage themselves by reinforcing expectations[106]. The clapping creates a positive behaviour and will be emitted by students in applicable situations. Also, having a particular transition between activities can create positive behaviour because it will make the classroom more predictable[107]. For example, educators can use a particular song to end an activity to start the next. Students will get into the habit of this routine and manage themselves through reinforcing the positive behaviour.

Using these principles, students can gain autonomy through managing their own behaviour[108]. These principles not only allow educators to gain control over their classroom, but students will have the opportunity to self-manage. To create a positive relationship with the students, educators will need to create boundaries and balance between warmth and discipline[109]. Educators need to understand the degree of their discipline because going by the rules for everything will stray the students away from the educators. Discipline that are over controlling can cause educators to be inflexible and unresponsive to student needs[110]. There should not be a determined discipline because every year, there will be new students in every classroom. The discipline should be modified based on the needs of the students so there will be opportunities for students to learn the skills to self-manage.

Self-Awareness[edit]

Self-awareness is assessing one’s emotions and thoughts and its impact on behaviour. One of the three approaches to social emotional learning, sociopolitical development (SPD), connects to self-awareness. SPD is the critical reflection of young people that help them see and understand structures, social values and practices that they may be struggling with[111]. Critical thinking will assist young people on realizing what their weaknesses are. Self-awareness allows the young people to determine their strengths and weaknesses, as well as maintaining a positive attitude and confidence. This is especially important in an educational setting because young people need to understand their capabilities to set goals for themselves that are not out of their limits. Figuring out what one’s strengths and weaknesses are can influence emotions and thoughts either a positive or negative way. If one is struggling with their weaknesses, this could result with frustration, anger, or any negative emotions or thoughts. This will also lead up to negative behaviour. In an educational setting, educators need to understand students’ weaknesses so they can scaffold alongside to turn them into strengths. This will be beneficial with students’ self-awareness.

Morals and Values

On one hand, morals are a person’s standards of behaviour involving their definitive belief about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable for them to do. It is crucial for people to develop morals because they establish a set of rules for themselves based on their belief between right and wrong. Having morals will provide a person with directions, guiding them towards more positive decisions and preventing themselves from negative choices. This works in with SPD through the critical reflection that one must go through. SPD seeks out social values, structures, practices, and processes that need to be altered[112]. A person with morals can easily seek out those social factors that do not fit in with their beliefs. Setting a set of ground rules allows an individual to determine whether their emotions and thoughts are generating a positive or negative behaviour.

On the other hand, values are what are important to an individual. Values and morals work to build on each other. Morals determine what is acceptable and not acceptable in an individual’s perspective, and values determine what is important. Values will trigger the emotions in an individual because a value sets an importance on an object, a person, a place, etc. in the individual’s life. Values can give an individual confidence and optimism in life because these values act as a motivation for the individual. Motivation is a factor that will benefit young people in schools. Motivation gives people a reason to do things because it interests them. Usually, an individual will develop motivation for a task because they can get something out of it (eg: a reward). The reward they get out of a task could be of some value of theirs. Thus, having values can also be used as a motivator for people.

SECURe

SECURe (PreK) Strategies and Routines

Researchers have come up with a school intervention called SECURe[113]. SECURe stands for Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Understanding and Regulation in education. This intervention is used in primary education to assist with three skills: cognitive regulation/executive function, emotion processes and interpersonal skills[114]. SECURe uses games and songs to teach these skills, such as using a storybook to identify the emotions of the characters. The educator would then teach a method called, "I Message" [115]. This method teaches students to express their emotions to their classmates. For example, if a student is upset with their classmate because they were calling them names, then the student would speak up to their classmate and say, "I am upset because I do not like being called names". I Message is beneficial in assisting students to become self-aware because this method allows students to regulate their emotions to discover how they were feeling and why they felt that way. By becoming self-aware, students can regulate their emotions and communicate in a calm manner to their peers about how they feel. This reduces the chance of students acting in an irrational behaviour that could lead to negative consequences.

Another component of SECURe is creating daily structures and routines because this provides opportunities for students to practice skills in recurring interactions and relationship-building activities[116]. This is mainly for students in prekindergarten and/or kindergarten. These students have just started interacting with other students their age so creating a routine is very beneficial. Creating a structure or routine will give them the basic understanding of which behaviour to use in certain situations. Grasping this component of SECURe will enable them to move further as they progress and eventually self-manage.

Social Awareness[edit]

Social Awareness Refers to
Being aware of others
Understanding that others have feelings
Knowing that YOUR actions affect others

Social awareness is the student's ability to express and control their thoughts and emotions in different situations. Developing the student's ability to self regulate their thoughts, emotions, attention and reactivity is a key goal of SEL. Through learning social awareness strategies, students can identify which emotions are appropriate to display in different social events. For example, students know how to regulate their behaviors inside a classroom compared to a formal event such as a wedding ceremony or funeral. As students continue to develop frameworks on how to behave in a formal setting compared to a casual setting, students demonstrate more behaviors aligned with the social norm.

Through becoming socially aware of one's surroundings, students also learn techniques in how to remain motivated and focused on a given task within the classroom. For example throughout the school day, students can learn how to improve their level of motivation and focus as teachers encourage them to practice mindfulness techniques which refers to being consciously aware of how one is feeling physically and emotionally at that present moment and accepting those emotions. Research has shown students who are mindful of their emotions are more socially aware of how to regulate those positive and negative emotions [117] For example, when students are feeling stressed and angry, being mindful of their current emotional state allows students to reflect on how they are feeling and encourages regulation of their emotions through talking about their feelings, or accepting their emotional state and relaxing. Social awareness also refers to the student’s ability to see situations in different perspectives. This teaches students how to be respectful, and open minded when being introduced to new situations with different challenges such as transitioning into a new school, classroom or having to work with new people. These new situations allow students to become more aware of one's surroundings as it also encourages students to be accepting of diverse point of views. If these skills are not practiced within the classroom, these transitional situations would lead to chaos as individuals will not understand the importance of compromising and integrating ideas from both the sides of the relationship. For example, teachers can demonstrate social awareness within the classroom by incorporating the student's ideas when creating classroom rules and boundaries. This demonstrates social awareness as the students are encouraged to speak up and share their perspectives on situations in which the teacher will take into consideration. This demonstrates social awareness as there is a level of compromise and integration of ideas when creating classroom standards and rules. These types of relationships leads students to build a trusted relationship with their teacher which allows the student to be less at risk of developing social and emotional regulation problems as the students learn new strategies in how to be open minded to different ideas [118]. Through being open minded, students learn compromise helps to resolve social, emotional and physical problems. For example, if there is a conflict between two friends, if both individuals demonstrate social awareness by listening to the perspective of the other individual, it is more likely that the conflict will be resolved sooner as both sides of the relationship shares their ideas while listening to the other.

Mindfulness brings many advantages to students Physically, Emotionally and Mentally

Physically Emotionally Mentally
Students report feeling less fatigue better emotional regulation Better attention span
Improved sleep cycle teaches students to "think before acting" better memory capacity
Lowers blood pressure feeling less stressed higher academic performance
Helps relieve physical tension teaches relaxation techniques less substance use and depression

Gestures

Gestures are the ways in which children learn to express how they are feeling through physical hand motions and body movements. These methods of learning can be integrated into the classroom setting by teaching students ways in which they can express their emotions through words and showing their emotions through their their hand gestures. For example, when teachers ask students how everyone is feeling today from 1-5 (1 being bad), students should learn to express their emotions through hand gestures not simply holding their emotions into themselves. When students do not practice skills in expressing their emotions through gestures, they are more likely to develop temperament as these students may internalize all their emotional expressions [119]. Gestures help students to develop more efficient ways in communicating their thoughts and feelings which may be unclear for teachers and peers.Gestures can also be used to teach students new information. For example, when learning their colors, body parts and letters, students can learn these information through songs, videos, and hand gestures such as Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes or ABC. Through learning these songs, hand gestures and body movement, students can retain the information in a fun and interactive way allowing the students to be more motivated and engaged to learn new information. Gestures also teaches students strategies in reading and understanding symbols in different situations. For example when seeing a "quiet" sign in the library, students will know they need to remain silent inside the library, taking into consideration the other people who maybe studying and trying to focus. However, some gestures or symbols have more than one meaning. For example raising our hands in class demonstrates the student has something they want to share. On the other hand, raising our hands while crossing the street shows a different meaning as it represents manners to the driver. Students can learn which gestures are appropriate for certain situations when the teacher demonstrates the meanings behind these gestures through "role playing" in which students and teachers act out situations helping to demonstrate which gestures are appropriate for certain situations.

Relationship Skills

Relationship skills are the strategies students use to build and maintain positive relationships among peers and surroundings. When building positive relationships, researchers often wonder why individuals chose to create friendships with certain people but not others. Researchers wonder whether creating relationships has to do with personality traits, physical abilities, socioeconomic systems, intelligence, or other features[120]. Overall, students build positive relationships as they learn to communicate their thoughts and feelings in a positive and healthy way through using emotional regulation. Learning these techniques allows students to become more open minded to diversity within the classroom as they learn to interact with all peers regardless of their age, gender, size or ethnicity. When these skills are developed at a young age, students built upon these frameworks on how to build and maintain relationships in the future with their co-workers, family members and their partners, as students are able to identify which relationship strategy worked and didn't work while they were in school. Overall, students who show better acceptance by their peers often demonstrated more admirable qualities within them such as being friendly, intelligent, attractive and athletic. To add on, these students were shown to be more successful in the future facing less emotional problems such as depression and social anxiety disorder [121].

Bullying

Bullying is one of the most common issue within all school environments but can be difficult to identify due to the several different methods of bullying that takes place. Bullying can be done directly (hitting, pushing punching), or indirectly (verbally abusing someone through name calling, isolating). Two main reasons for bullying others include alleviating boredom/creating excitement and to split up friendship and group processes. Bullying is common within the classroom as students choose to reject and/or "pick on" students who look more vulnerable and seem to be easier targets.[122] In general, researchers show females to be more verbally victimized whereas males report being bullied more physically [123] These situations affect children emotionally as they feel alone, misunderstood and are scared to speak up and seek help from an adult due to the believed consequences behind their actions. However, not speaking to a trusted friend or adult only makes the situation worse as bullying is often a destructive process as the bully continues to become stronger within the relationship while the victim becomes weaker [124] During these situations, teachers need to step in and teach students the effects of bullying how it can lead to depression, isolation and withdrawal within the victim [125]. The teacher can bring more awareness of the effects of bullying by incorporating role plays of different bullying situations, or having professionals come into the classroom and speak about the consequences behind bullying and the importance of speaking up when one is involved in a bullying relationship. Through these involvements, the bullies are more likely to see the situations in the perspective of the victim, as they learn ways in how to create and maintain an equal respectful relationship with their peers.

Building Relationships

Building relationships centers around student’s ability to learn how to create and maintain positive relationships inside and outside the classroom. It is evident that certain students have better relationship building skills compared to others, however, the true and main reason behind their advanced skills is still in research. It can have something to do with the student's cultural family background; the student's peer groups; personality characteristics and much more. Nevertheless, learning these skills at a young age teaches students appropriate strategies to use when building relationships with future peers, partners and co-workers. Students learn that the way they talk with their surrounds should be altered when interacting with people who are older than them such as teachers and parents. For example students should should show respect to older people by constantly being open minded towards receiving positive and negative feedback. If students chose to talk with adults like how they interact with their peers such as saying "what's up" or "how's it going"? teachers and adults can be lead into the perspective that this student is extremely rude and should be better educated. In order for these situations to be avoided, research has shown that students learn better when they are shown ways in how to build positive relationships. Therefore teachers should step into the classroom modelling positive relationship building techniques such as demonstrating how to share, be respectful, and be welcoming for diversity. For example, when providing students with snacks, teachers can demonstrate how giving all students 1 piece is the fair thing to do as everyone gets the same amount. To add on, teachers should model the different levels of acceptable interaction between one's peers compared to adults they know. Through modelling these behaviours, students learn to modify their behaviour and create positive and long lasting relationships with their peers and surroundings [126].

Responsible Decision Making

Responsible decision making is the student's ability to construct responsible choices about their personal behaviours and social interactions. For students to develop these skills they need to consider various questions such as, how would this decision benefit me? what would be the consequences behind this decision? who will it impact? These question, choices and behaviour are often guided by the individual's pre-constructed ethical standards, such as safety concerns, social norms and the evaluation of consequences behind performing these actions. These responsible decision making techniques are often guided by cultural and religious beliefs.

There are two main different cultural point of views known as:

Collectivist Individualistic
We Oriented Me Oriented
Blending in Standing out
Belonging Standing out
Group Goals Individual Goals
Cooperation Competition
Group Support Self Reliant

For example, cultures that emphasize individualism (US, Canada, Australia), chose to make decisions based on what they believe would benefit themselves the most, whereas collectivist communities (Asia, Latin America) emphasizes the importance of group harmony instead of individual decisions [127]. These cultural differences affect the student's level of moral decision making even at the young age of 4. In the CBC video babies born to be good?, researchers conducted an experiment where researchers recruited students under the age of 5 to test their level of moral reasoning. All students showed diversity in age (4-5), ethnicity and gender. In each of the situations, the experimenter left one student in a room (1 on 1) full of mess. When the experimenter left the room to grab a clipboard, all the children chose to clean up the mess to help the researcher. Before conducting the experiment, researched believed students coming from collectivist communities (Asia, Latin America) will lie in order to not receive credit for helping the researcher whereas individualistic communities would be honest and take the credit for the job being done.The results confirmed the hypothesis as researchers found students from individualistic communities didn't mind “standing out” and receiving acknowledgement” whereas collectivist students preferred “blending in”. These cultural differences can be present upon individuals as they grow older due to their different moral and ethical values. For instance, when a student receives a job offer, individualistic communities would encourage the students to make the decision based on how the situation would benefit the individual whereas collectivist communities emphasize putting their group unity before their individual choices. Despite the different cultural perspectives, in order for responsible decision making to take place, individuals need to keep in mind how this decision would affect themselves as well as their surroundings. Through using responsible decision making, students learn to become critical thinkers as it introduces them to the importance of "thinking before acting". Teachers can integrate these aspects of learning through reading short scenarios of a story and by asking students questions on what would be the responsible thing to do next? or What action can lead to a big consequence? These scenario acting techniques help students learn strategies in regulating their actions to fit their ethical beliefs.

Social Behaviour

Social behaviour looks at how individuals interact physically, emotionally and socially in different situations. This includes looking at how individuals interact through verbal face to face conversations or talking through a phone or electronic device. Social behavior also refers to physical interactions through holding hands, linking arms, hugging, etc. An individual's level of social behaviour is highly correlated with their past experiences. For example, when a child is highly neglected by their parents, they are more likely to display aggression inside the classroom due to the fact they were mostly rejected by their primary caregiver. [128]. These negative interactions guided students to believe this world is an unsafe place therefore, they become highly defensive in new situations as they choose to reject new peers and teachers. During these situations, teachers need to step in and make the child feel safe and comfortable within the classroom, by integrating positive reinforcements such as complementing the student on their work, or providing feedback on how the student can improve their learning and understanding. Through these levels of interactions, the student often becomes less aggressive in different situations as the teacher helped to restructure the students understanding of the world to be a "safe environment" altering one's morals and shaping their interactions with their peers and parents.

Teamwork

Teamwork is build within the classroom when students acknowledge the importance of collaboration of different works and ideas to make it better. Through using teamwork strategies, students learn ways in feeding off of each other through learning ways in getting their points and ideas across while listening to the opinions and feedbacks of other individuals. For example, when students work on group assignments, they often split up the work evenly and collaborate their ideas in the end. This allows the work to become more developed as it integrates different perspectives of the situation into one assignment. When there is a disagreement within the group, students learn more teamwork strategies by compromising and being respectful towards the ideas of their peers. However, if these skills are not practiced, teamwork situations would become chaotic for learners as well as teachers and students will struggle to regulate their ideas, emotions and relationships. Nevertheless, when teamwork is practiced inside the classroom through doing group projects, or playing team sports, children learn ways in building neutral and respectful relationships in the future. For example through playing a team sport, students better understand that in order to run a company, there needs to be different individuals having different roles to run the company however, group collaboration is important for the company to be successful.

Conflict

Individuals often face social and emotional conflicts inside and outside the classroom setting. The individual's ability to deal with these conflicts are highly dependent on their previous experiences resolving conflicts and is often shaped by their beliefs of social norms and ethical beliefs. For instance, at a young age, students are often unclear on social norms on how to resolve a conflict as they may have not been exposed to these situations. These students may lack morals therefore, may believe the best way to resolve a conflict is fighting back and becoming defensive. During these times, teachers can show students the consequences behind fighting back as it only makes the conflict worse. Teachers can then teach students ways to resolve the conflict through talking about the problem as students may have had a miscommunication. Many individuals also face emotional conflict such as feeling lonely, rejected, mad, and sad. During these situations, teachers should guide students in having a conversation about what they are feeling and why they are feeling this way. Research has shown students who resolve emotional conflicts through talking about it, lead the student to become more emotionally and socially stable in the future [129]

Glossary[edit]

Academic Stress: An academic task is perceived as stressful by people who do not feel as if they have the skills, or emotional or time resources, needed to effectively manage a given activity.

Aggression: The practice of making assaults or attacks; boldly assertive.

Alleviating Boredom/Creating Excitement: Picking on an individual to make their lives more fun, eventful and interesting.

Autonomous Motivation: Engaging in an activity because of its perceived meaningfulness and relevance.

Collaboration: to work, one with another; cooperate, integrate ideas

Collectivist Perspective: view point of Asian, Latin American communities emphasizing importance of group collaboration, group unity, and group belonging.

Critical Youth Empowerment (CYE): Focuses on collaboration and connection through various models of youth empowerment.

Destructive process: as the bullying continues, the power imbalance becomes greater because the bully continues to grow stronger as they figure out more vulnerable aspects of the victim making the victim weaker and an easier target.

Diversity: The inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

Emotional Regulation: The child's ability to monitor their behaviour in different situations.

Ethical standards: Perception of what is morally right and wrong, and their reasoning behind beliefs.

Individualistic Perspective: view point of Canadians, Americans, Australian citizens emphasizing the importance of independence, having privacy, being self oriented, etc.

Motivation: The reason for acting or behaving in a particular way.

Neglected: Given little attention to, fail to show care.

Positive Youth Development (PYD): Using activities and experiences to assist young people in developing social, moral, emotional, physical, and cognitive competence in their community.

Reactivity: How the individual responds to the environment.

Scaffold: Process through which educators guide children along their emerging abilities.

SECURe: Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Understanding and Regulation in education.

Self Regulation: Child's ability to control their reactivity in different situations while controlling their emotion and attention.

Sociopolitical Development (SPD): Promotes an understanding of the cultural and political forces that shape one's societal status by emphasizing the acquisition of practical, analytical, and emotional faculties to act within political and social systems.

Split up friendship and group processes: Convincing others to not hangout with certain people due to having undesirable qualities.

Symbols: Something used for or regarded as representing something else; Can include words, images, phrases to represent another object.

Recommended Readings[edit]

Ann Sanson, S.A. (2004) Connections between Temperament and Social Development: A Review. 143-170.

Jackson, Cassandra McKay. (2014). A Critical Approach to Social Emotional Learning Instruction Through Community-Based Service Learning. 292-312.

Weinstein, C.S., Romano, M. (2015) Knowing Your Students and Their Special Needs. 110-145.

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< ref name="&&&&">@@@@</ref > < ref name="&&&&" / > < ref>B. Paul, Kinematics and Dynamics of Planar Machinery, Prentice-Hall, NJ, 1979</ref >

Activity Theory[edit]

The Development of Activity Theory[edit]

Activity Theory (AT), often referred to as Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), is a broad cognitive learning theory that emphasizes complex mediation of action and interactions between individuals (subjects), objects, contexts and communities. It is often considered as a conceptual lens through which to consider a human activity more in-depth, providing “the tools for revealing the social and material resources that are salient in activity.” [1] Activity Theory was developed by revolutionary soviet psychologists Lev Vygotsky, Alexi Leont’ev and others during the 1920’s and 1930’s in response to earlier theories of learning including behaviorism, psychoanalysis and reflexology.[2] Vygotsky’s focus was to draw on his earlier work in cultural-historical theory to determine how culture and language mediate between a stimulus and the response. AT also differs from Piaget’s theories, as it sees cognitive processes as influenced and mediated by external artifacts and influences, rather than considering them as separate.[3] Basically, AT focuses on activities undertaken by subjects (human agents) who are motivated toward some objective (object); their activities are mediated by tools or mediating artifacts (which can include symbol systems and language).[4] This can take the form of a person (subject) using a can-opener (tool) to open a can (object), or of a child (subject) using words (tool) to ask for a cookie (object). Tools / mediating artifacts can be more abstract, including mathematical algorithms or the knowledge of a process, and are considered separately from, but also mediating the subject and its motivations.[1] This relationship has often been portrayed using a triangular diagram; pictured first is Vygotsky’s original theory (stimulus (S), Response (R) and “a complex, mediated act” (X)); the second image presents a more common version; subject, tool/mediating artifact, object. The following example demonstrates this and suggests Leont’ev’s further contributions to follow.

Vygotsky and Leont'ev's Early Activity Theory

Example: Leont'ev’s "primeval collective hunt"[edit]

"a beater, for example, taking part in a primeval collective hunt was stimulated by a need for food, or perhaps, a need for clothing, which the skin of the dead animal would meet for him. At what, however, was his activity directly aimed? It may have been directed, for example, at frightening a herd of animals and sending them towards other hunters, hiding in ambush. That, properly speaking, is what should be the result of the activity of this man. And the activity of this individual member of the hunt ends with that. The rest is completed by other members. This result, i.e. frightening of the game, etc., understandably does not in itself, and may not, lead to satisfaction of the beater's need for food, or the skin of the animal. What the processes of his activity were directed to did not, consequently, coincide with what stimulated them, i.e., did not coincide with the motive of his activity; the two were divided from one another in this instance. Processes, the object and motive of which do not coincide with one another, we shall call "actions". We can say, for example, that the beater's activity is the hunt, the frightening of the game the action."[5] In this early example, the subject is the hungry hunter, the tool/mediating artifact is the hunter’s specific activity (frightening the animals) and the object is the food and clothing resulting from the successful hunt.

Over time, more elements were elaborated in this model which better represent the complexity of each of the three components above. Recently, Yrjö Engeström summarized this development of AT across three “generations” with Vygotsky and Leont’ev’s foundations above as the first and second.[4] Both of these focused mainly on children and learning, and Vygotsky put much emphasis on language as the dominant mediating artifact. [3] The third and current generation of AT began in the 1970’s, and focused on an increasingly complex range of relationships between the individual and his or her activities with various communities, including the workplace. New areas of focus such as cross-cultural interactions and networks of interacting Activity Systems are central to contemporary activity theory. Differences of tradition, language and cultural contexts add much complexity, and remains an area of active research.[4] In the diagrams below, the activities are now constrained by the rules/conventions of the context; they exist within communities, and they must consider the division of labor (social strata). These elements are all interconnected, meaning that each one is influenced by each other. One exception is the outcome, which may occur separately from and differ from the object of the activity. The object is also considered to be a “moving target” because it is dependent on several variables. The second image includes object 3, which is an outcome that is only possible when two or more subjects perform some activity to that end, each with an Activity System in play. The inclusion of many communities and subjects creates a complex challenge for AT theorists.[4]

An individual Activity System, and two interacting systems

Example: A Teacher’s Decision-Making[edit]

The following is a slightly shortened example that demonstrates the added components in the above Activity System diagrams: Roth and Lee provide a fictional example of Katherine, a fifth grade teacher in a rural district who has taught her group of students in previous years.[3] She decides that a unit on electricity would be best taught through hands-on experiential activities, but feels pressure from her school board towards accountability. She instead decides to rely on a canned direct-teaching method in order to ensure economy of instructional time, under assurances of mastery learning and higher achievement scores. During the week, she sees excited faces slowly dim, though she finishes the unit in time. She is disappointed at the apparent disengagement, and consoles herself that they will be fine in the end, and that they will do some fun experiments another time.

The subjects interacting here are Katherine and each of her students. The desired outcome is to learn the prescribed content satisfactorily. Katherine’s activity included direct teaching, influenced by rules set by members of her educational community, and the object was to complete the unit of instruction in time. While she was successful, the outcome of good understanding and engagement was not achieved by most students, who have their own Activity System at play. Their Activity System includes rules within a classroom community and their position as students; their activity was limited to listening, taking notes, responding occasionally and their object was to successfully complete instruction led by their teacher. Their activities were directed also by the educational community that put pressure on their teacher.[3]

The missed opportunity in this example is that Katherine did not have confidence enough in her theoretical defense of experiential learning; even though it would have provided for richer interactions in the activity of her students and ultimately led to a better learning outcome. Both groups did achieve their objects, but because the outcome is variable based on all subjects’ mediated activities, it was less than ideal. Following Activity Theory, if Katherine or another teacher were to lay out their desired outcomes, their community influences, rules, and divisions of labour, she would be able to point to features that show that her objective (completing a unit on time) will not lead to the desired outcome. She may need to leverage her professional and personal knowledge of her students as well as her school community in order to influence her administration to accommodate and validate her methods in way that satisfies their standards.

Engeström lays out five principles that characterize contemporary (third generation) AT. The first is that the unit of analysis is the Activity System described above, though it may change or adjust to groups activities. The second is that Activity Systems are multi-voiced, where multiple points of view, traditions and interests are presented according positioning within the division of labor, and following various historical layers/strands; all of which is multiplied in networks of Activity Systems. The third is historicity; Activity Systems must be understood within their own history, as the local history of an activity and its objects changes how they affect other components; to understand medicine in a given area, one must consider the history of local medical organizations and the global history of medical concepts, procedures, tools, etc. The fourth is the central role of contradictions as sources of change and development. This refers to accumulating tension (rather than conflict) that arises with the introduction of new elements and generates attempts at adaptation or change of a given Activity System. The fifth is the possibility for expansive transformations in Activity Systems. As contradictions lead to tension and change, some members may reach out to other Activity Systems or deviate from norms, resulting in a larger collaborative effort to reconceptualize and reform some larger societal activity.[4]

Application: Activity Theory and Human-Computer Interaction[edit]

An example of contemporary application of AT is in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Bonnie Nardi’s book Context and Consciousness highlights several examples of fruitful application of AT to HCI.[6] Nardi begins with a proposition that rather than HCI, the term computer-mediated activity be used. The focus can then shift from the computer separated from the human by an interface, and instead dissolve this, incorporating contextual elements as well in mediating the activity. The focus on the Activity System is useful in designing electronic tools to suit a given activity because it provides a new perspective on the nature of the activities, objectives, and mediating artifacts involved. It also directs attention systematically to the other elements in the Activity System such as the division of labour, community and rules and conventions. Nardi discusses the implications for the design of educational technologies, which are similar to the design of any instructional tool. That is, in order to achieve an objective (learning x or y), an activity or tool must be developed while considering the whole situation as well as the end users and their motivations. The design is usually also iterative, using prototypes in the usage context, with students and teachers and curriculum. In this way, the external influences on a student must be well-understood in order for the student to internalize (learn) what is expected (the objective).[6]

References[edit]

  1. a b Dilani S. P. Gedera and P. John Williams Eds. (2016) Activity Theory in Education: Research and Practice. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
  2. Bedney & Meister 1997 Bedny, Gregory; Meister, David (1997). The Russian Theory of Activity: Current Applications to Design and Learning. Series in Applied Psychology. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-8058-1771-3.
  3. a b c d Roth, W., & Yew-Jin Lee. (2007) "Vygotsky's Neglected Legacy": Cultural-Historical Activity Theory. Review of Educational Research, 77(2), 186-232. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/stable/4624893
  4. a b c d e Engeström, Y. (2008) Expansive Learning: Toward an activity-Theoretical Reconceptualization. In Illeris, Knud (Ed.) (2008) Contemporary Theories of Learning: Learning Theorists … In Their Own Words. New York, NY: Routledge.
  5. Warwick Institute for Employment Research (2011) Activity Theory. Retrieved on July 12, 2016, from https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/ier/glacier/learning/theories/activitytheory/cg/
  6. a b Nardi, B. (1996). Context and consciousness: Activity theory and human-computer interaction. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Distributed Cognition[edit]

Distributed Cognition (DCOG) is a theory that suggests that certain cognitive processes may be externalized into certain objects, processes, or other individuals in a group or team. This makes a distinction made between traditional cognition taking place in an individual’s head and Distributed cognition, which may take place partly or mostly outside of the individual. [1] In the case of objects, processes or technologies, there is an additional distinction between cognizers, who initiate new cognitive activities (thinking, understanding, knowing) and those cognitive helpers who are tasked with some element of it. Additionally, some internal (e.g. mental representations) elements can be considered as examples of DCOG alongside external ones (e.g. a scientific poster or a calculator). We will now consider aspects of DCOG as they relate to specific groups, technologies and processes through a series of illustrative examples.

DCOG in a Notebook[edit]

Clark and Chalmers’ (1998) present a popular example of Otto’s Notebook. They compare two people who need to find their way across town to an art exhibition; one relies only on memory to reach her destination, and Otto, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and relies heavily on a notebook to remember the date, location and directions to the same exhibition. The example illustrates how we are quite used to relying on information stored in our environments to support our own memory systems. Many people with memory deficits carry a notebook in order to record and retrieve information in a way that others would do using their long-term memory. [2] The authors present this story as part of an argument for an extended mind, with external artifacts considered as on-par with normal cognitive processes, rather than separate from them. This case presents the notebook as an extension of memory. It is an effective example because many people frequently use similar tools, and increasingly use digital tools for the same ends (camera-phone, voice recording, webmail etc.).

DCOG in a Sports Team[edit]

Williamson and Cox (2014) present an example of a sports team. They compare a team of individual experts to another, expert team. They refer to the first as an aggregate system, and the expert team as an emergent system.[3] The performance of the second team may be greater than the sum of its parts, just as the first team may look good on paper but underperform. Shared knowledge and skill (embodied and declarative) is important to the success of the expert team, and is often based on a shared history. It is possible for teams to “gel” quickly if members are compatible. This approach to DCOG is also found in other collaborative domains including music, dance, surgery and work teams. Each case involves coordination of many individuals’ skills, intentions, patterns of action and cognition. Also important is a sharing of affect or mood, which can also lead to a shared drop in morale, which negatively affects performance. Cohesion in an expert team is maintained through verbal communication, body language and performance. Finally, members share their collective and individual knowledge of the game, their own skills (some intangible ones), others’ skills, and knowledge about what others know about them. This shared knowledge, supported by an affective community allows each player to rely on the whole team in order to attain their shared objectives. In this way, there is a network that can distribute cognitive processes and activity in a fluid and highly efficient manner. [3]

DCOG in an Airline Cockpit[edit]

Hutchins and Klausen describe a commercial airline cockpit as an example of DCOG, in which interactions between internal (the pilot’s thoughts) and external knowledge representations (controls, instrumentation). Considering the movement of information through such a complex system, the authors determined that the expertise within the system resides also in the organization of tools and the work environment itself.[4] The shared cognitive processing emerges when tools, information and human activity are efficiently combined to create a system that is not dependent on individual pilot skills. Success is dependent instead on socially distributed tasks with the complexity and support required changing based on need (communication with an air-traffic controller before landing, takeoff, maintenance checks, etc.). [4] As in the Sports example, parallels to other work environments can be made; where the arrangement of tools, protocols and human activity are clearly defined (as in medicine or collaborative technical work), DCOG provides a useful lens though which to examine cognitive tasks and the roles of support systems in order to optimize efficiency, ensure appropriate redundancy, or other improvements to a given process.

DCOG in Scaffolding[edit]

Belland (2011) examines the concept of scaffolding through the lens of DCOG, with Problem-Based Learning using computer-based scaffolds as a focus. The support provided by a scaffold can rightly be called distributed cognition, but it differs in that scaffolding is meant to “fade” as responsibility is transferred to the learner.[1] Additionally, scaffolding is often human-dependent, as dynamic responses to learner needs are difficult for computers to reliably accomplish. The effect of removing scaffolding too early may be hazardous, and allowing the tool to remain may prevent the formation of new schemas. Therefore, where DCOG is used to help design a scaffold, it is most useful to scaffold in a way that supports the learner in generating their own schema, accomplishing some task that the learner need not internalize (using a ruler and calculator to draw an enlargement grid for an art project). Further, if the scaffolding does use a tool as in DCOG, that tool should be easily available for use if needed to solve that problem in the future. In this way, certain scaffolds may remain in place in order to augment the learner in transfer contexts, or remain until the learner has internalized their functions.[1]

DCOG and Computers - The Cognitive Commons[edit]

Many examples of machine-supported information retrieval and learning have been presented over time, but the personal computer and the Internet have provided many examples of distributed cognition in everyday contexts. Much like Otto’s notepad, many people regularly consult digital calendars, notes, emails online search engines for timely information for a wide variety of cognitive tasks. Search engines provide one of the best examples, with effective algorithms and enormous amounts of data combining to make a tool that is relied upon to assist in many tasks, from trip planning to social networking.

Clark and Chalmers present a popular example of a brain implant, in which a normally external technology is able to interpret and respond to stimuli inside of the "skin and skull". This is an example of DCOG, but also what the authors refer to as extended cognition, or active externalism because of the potential for a coupled system which may be considered a cognitive system in its own right. [2] Personal electronics such as smartphones are a limited form of this kind of extended cognition (slower, external); the authors describe the element of portability being central to the popular conception of cognition, which is partly addressed by ubiquitous and portable technology.

Dror and Harnad (2008) describe the concept of a cognitive commons, in which the Internet is a persistent and dynamic aid to many cognitive processes, and a common space for people to share cognitive tasks.[5] They draw attention to the term cognizing as the act of thinking, understanding and knowing things, as a mental state which is not present in technologies that may support cognition. However, when cognizers, with performance capacity extended through DCOG with various tools, apply language and networking on the Internet, a cognitive commons is possible, similar to Engeström’s expansive learning theory.[6] The cognitive commons describes not just the place for thinkers (cognizers) to interact, but also how their interactions online, combined with online tools such as search engines, allow that community to accomplish greater cognitive goals, much like a larger, distributed expert sports team, performing better than the sum of its expertise.

References[edit]

  1. a b c Belland, B.R. (2011). Distributed Cognition as a Lens to Understand the Effects of Scaffolds: The Role of Transfer of Responsibility. Educational Psychology Review, 23(4), 577-600.
  2. a b Clark, A. and D. Chalmers. The extended mind. Analysis 58(1): 7–19, 1998.
  3. a b Kellie Williamson & Rochelle Cox (2014) Distributed Cognition in Sports Teams: Explaining successful and expert performance, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 46:6, 640-654.
  4. a b Hutchins, E., Klausen, T. (2000) Distributed Cognition in an Airline Cockpit. In Y. Engeström and D. Middleton (Eds.) Cognition and communication at work. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 15-34.
  5. I.Dror & S. Harnad. (2008) Offloading Cognition onto Cognitive Technology. In I.Dror & S. Harnad (Eds.) Cognition Distributed: How Cognitive Technology Extends Our Minds (pp 1–23). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
  6. Engeström, Y. (2008) Expansive Learning: Toward an activity-Theoretical Reconceptualization. In Illeris, Knud (Ed.) (2008) Contemporary Theories of Learning: Learning Theorists … In Their Own Words. New York, NY: Routledge.