How to Incorporate Social Learning Theory into Classroom Activities

Social learning theory requires consistent class management and positive reinforcement.

By incorporating social learning theory into your classroom you can develop an encouraging classroom environment, which in turn inspires students to engage your lesson and enjoy the learning experience. Social learning theory suggests that students learn through observation, developing traits and habits based on the environment in which they are in. This includes seeing other students participating in class and choosing to participate as well. The negative side of social learning theory also suggests that some actions you take as a teacher can deter your students from participating and restrict their engagement in your lesson.

Plan a series of rewards for specific actions in class. Include candy rewards for younger students, bonus points on future exams or quizzes and a few class parties during the semester. Select rewards appropriate to the grade level and class maturity, as bonus test points are worth more to older students and treats to younger ones.

Design specific ways for students to earn these rewards; this can include participating in class regularly or a high group average on a test. Include numerous opportunities to receive a reward, such as weekly awards, monthly awards and smaller daily rewards. Also be sure to design individual as well as group rewards, so that students are encouraged to participate and thrive individually as well as collectively.

Create an encouraging atmosphere in class by staying positive and reacting positively to student questions and comments. Regularly praise students for insightful comments and compliment questions, which show a high degree of individual understanding about a topic.

Develop a positive technique for reacting to student failures or misunderstandings, such as a positive way to explain to a student that her answer was wrong without sounding discouraging. Explain the positive points of these works while suggesting a different perspective she can use to reach the correct answer.

Demonstrate new concepts clearly, and praise students when you see them demonstrating the right method to address a question in class. Give your students a positive example of how to address an issue and work towards a solution.

Provide a strong moral example for your students, encouraging them to incorporate those morals into their lives. Demonstrate these morals in your speech as well as your actions in class. For instance, if you have to leave during an exam, tell your students the positive statement, “I have to step out, but I trust you to continue your exam quietly,” rather than the negative command, “I’ll be gone for a moment, so you are not to cheat or talk to each other while I am gone.”

Kristyn Hammond has been teaching freshman college composition at the university level since 2010. She has experience teaching developmental writing, freshman composition, and freshman composition and research. She currently resides in Central Texas where she works for a small university in the Texas A&M system of schools.