Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Teaching as Modeling Behavior for Students

In a recent Vitae article, David Gooblar writes:

In 1961, a Stanford University psychologist named Albert Bandura conducted a soon-to-be famous experiment. He had young children watch adults interact with an inflatable “Bobo” doll in a toy-strewn room. Half of the children observed an adult acting aggressively toward the doll: pummeling, hitting, attacking the defenseless toy with mallets. The other half watched an adult playing nicely with Bobo, as the children’s parents might want them to play with other kids. All of the children were then left alone in the room with the doll. The resulting behavior will surprise no one today: Children who watched the aggressive adult were themselves much more likely to be aggressive; the other children played nice.

 The results were part of a new idea that Bandura helped pioneer called “social-learning theory. It revolutionized our way of understanding cognition by showing that learning does not entirely depend on the threat of punishment or the promise of reward. Instead, social-learning theory posits that we learn to behave in large part by watching others.

You can read more here. Most of the suggestions amount to making yourself more open and thus more vulnerable. In my professional life, I try to be rather open and very reasonable, probably in the "warm, fuzzy" category; however, my students also have to deal with my insistence on rigor in my courses. I have no idea whether my style affects how students will shape their future professional personalities. Here’s hoping.


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