Theories & Approaches
Social Learning Theory's Major Concepts
Social Learning Theory (SLT) is based on a series of many psychological concepts, some generally familiar to educators (like "reinforcement") and some not (like "reciprocal determinism"). Most of the published works on SLT are lengthy and research oriented. Therefore, SLT can seem complex and complicated to educators. In attempts to present it simply and clearly, only the key concepts will be explored in depth.
Table 1, excerpted with minor modifications from "Theory at a Glance: A Guide for Health Promotion Practice" (1997), presents definitions and applications for each of the six key concepts. Examples of the six key concepts as they apply to sexuality education are presented in Table 2.
For examples of what the six key concepts look like when applied to family life/sexuality education, review Table 2 below:
Abstinence Education Example
Correct Condom Use Education Example
|1. Expectations||Youth believe that using the refusal method will work without upsetting their partners.||Youth believe that using condoms will protect them from pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections.|
|2. Observational Learning||
Youth observe modeling of the refusal method (saying "no" to sexual activity) in class.
|Youth observe modeling of how to effectively put on a condom.|
|3. Behavioral Capability||Youth gain information about abstinence and the refusal method as well as practice using the refusal method.||Youth gain information about condom use and practice how to effectively put on a condom.|
|4. Self-Efficacy||Youth feel confident they can use the refusal model correctly.||Youth feel confident they can use condoms correctly.|
|5. Reciprocal Determinism||Youth place an advertisement in the local paper promoting teen abstinence.||Youth survey condom availability in community stores and request identified stores to carry specific brands.|
|6. Reinforcement||Youth receive praise for proper practice of the refusal model. Youth have positive associations with abstaining from sex such as, "abstaining keeps me healthy," and "abstaining allows me to focus on school" that will self-reward their abstinence in the future.||Youth receive praise for proper condom demonstration. Youth have positive associations connected with condom use such as, "It will keep me healthy," and "I can relax and enjoy myself more" that will self-reward their condom use in the future.|