Both Piaget and Bandura were psychologists who made major contributions to the psychology field. They came with two different theories on the learning process. As Simatwa, (2010) notes their theories have various similarities and differences. The psychologists’ theories focus on differences in age groups and the learning process. The theories are Piaget’s cognitive theory and Bandura’s social learning theory.
Paiget’s cognitive theory looks at the way people are capable of processing various mental activities. He focuses on biological influences on the way people get to know things. He had the belief that abstract symbolic reasoning is the main factor that separates a human being from an animal. According to Piaget, children’s way of thinking is quiet different from that of adults. He disputs the notion that young children are dumb, and they get smart as they grow up.
While this theory by piaget was concerned with ways in which human beings process the information received and their ability to reason differently from animals, Bandura’s social learning theory focuses on personality interactions within the behavior, environment and the individual psychological processes. According to bandura, the psychological processes include capability of entertaining images in the brain and language. At a later stage, bandura introduces imagery and therefore, seem to join the cognitivists like Piaget. His theory entails behaviorism that emphasize on experimentation of variables that are observable, measurable, and can be manipulated thus avoiding things that are subjective, unavailable and internal, therefore, they are mental.
Both cognitive theory of Piaget and social learning theory of Bandura originated from behaviorism. This is because both are of the opinion that the learner’s environment affects his or her performance in life’s various circles in a major way.
Piaget had an interest in the way an organism adapts to a new environment. He referred to this as intelligence. Behavior, is referred to as adaptation to an environment, it is usually controlled by schemes that a person uses to represent things in the world and the happenings. According to Piaget, the adaptation is driven by a force of biology to get equilibrium between the schemes and the environment.
On the others side, Bandura’s theory of social learning, experimentation involve the manipulation of one variable and then measure its effect on another variable. This is similar to personality theory that argues that a person’s environment shapes his or her behavior. So according to Bandura, a child who attends school in a foreign country will adopt to the new language and culture in general. This means that Bandura’s theory is similar to Piaget’s in the sense that both originated from behaviorism.
Both theorists involved some stages in their theories. They argued that a human being follows certain stages in development: however, the stages are different in that Piaget’s stages are based on cognitive development while bandura came up with modeling process. Piaget came up with four stages in cognitive development (Smith, & Berge, 2009). They are sensorimotor a stage for infants; they use their senses to understand the environment. Pre operational is a stage for early childhood and toddlers. At this stage learners have problems with reversibility especially in mathematics. The third stage is concrete operational for elementary and pre adolescents. Here, learners have already overcome the setbacks of the pre operational stage. They can use abstract thinking to work out multiplication and division of numbers. Finally, is the formal operational a stage for adolescents and adults. Bandura, on the other hand, established four steps that are involved in modeling. The first stage involves attention when one is listening. The second stage is retention (Csibra & Gergely, 2006). Retention is the process by which the leaner internalize and retain what he or she has been taught. The third stage is reproduction, which occurs when a learner behaves according to what he or she learnt. The last stage is motivation, which is the driving force behind everything that a learner does. In a classroom set up, A learner has to pay attention when the teacher is teaching, then retain the skills taught. Later, the learner has to reproduce what has been learnt by doing the exercise given for example. Lastly, the learner needs motivation to be able to continue learning.
In conclusion, both theories came up with resourceful and applicable theories that have helped educations understand and educate leaner. The theories, Piaget’s cognitive theory and Bandura’s social learning theory have several differences, but share strong similarities that point out that the human learning process involves stage and the process of learning is highly influenced by the learner environment. Both theories target human behavior and the forces that shape the behavior.