Social Cognitive Theory in the Classroom

Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) is applicable in the classroom in many ways.

Teacher modeling (a learning principle from SCT) is an effective way to instruct by demonstrating

  • procedures
  • desired behaviors
  • skills

I’m passionate about celebrating mistakes as a powerful tool of instruction. Students too often associate mistakes with failure. Modeling offers a great way to change that association. Harriet Edwards’ article “Mistakes and Other Classroom Techniques” makes a great case for instructors to make mistakes in class and then model for students ways to move on from and productively handle mistakes. Mistakes will be a key part of my classroom and I plan to follow Edwards’ advice.

Self-efficacy, a central piece of SCT, is incredibly important to me. Though I’m going to be teaching math and physics, the skill I’m most eager to teach is self-advocacy, which hinges on self-efficacy. Advocacy, for others and for oneself, is best taught by real-world modeling. I plan to advocate visibly for them and for myself, modeling behavior that is directly applicable to their lives.

As a teacher, I must be a model in all that I teach and believe. To be otherwise is hypocritical. From wearing a helmet and reflective vest when I ride my bike to engaging in productive, non-violent communication to dealing with and learning from my mistakes, I will model for students the beliefs and values I profess.


Edwards, H.C. (1994). Mistakes and other classroom techniques: An application of social learning theory. Essays on Teaching Excellence: Toward the Best in the Academy, 6 (5).






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