Definitions of Social and Experiential Learning Theories

Social Learning refers to the fact that social tools can enhance the continuous learning that takes place naturally in the workplace through knowledge sharing and collaboration. Social Learning is about people connecting, conversing, collaborating and learning from, and with, one another on a daily basis at work.

Social learning theory

The most famous and important contributor of Social Learning Theory is Albert Bandura, a psychologist and professor at Stanford University. In developing his Social Learning Theory, he affirmed that an important source, for learning new behaviors and for achieving behavioral change in institutionalized settings, is the process of observational learning.

Bandura used many times the term “model” meaning “individuals observed by others”. For example, children usually observe and imitate their parents at home and teachers at school. In this case influential models are parents and teachers.


In 1970, professor Bandura established the most well-known theory of modern social learning, which states that people can learn in a social context through observational behavior from models

This is the structure:

  • Learning can occur by observing others’ behaviors and the resulting outcomes;
  • Learning can occur cognitively without a corresponding change in behavior;
  • Modeled behavior is reinforced by producing desirable outcomes (for both the observed party and the learner);
  • Three variables in the social learning context, the learner, the behavior, and the environment, can influence each other.

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