Social-Cognitive Learning Theory Lesson Plan

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Observational learning is the focus of this lesson plan on social-cognitive learning theory. Students will discuss concepts and actively engage in the process of observational learning to solidify knowledge.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe social-cognitive theory
  • Demonstrate understanding of social-cognitive theory through active use
  • Identify multiple models and explain one model in depth


1 - 1.5 Hours

Curriculum Standards


Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).


Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


  • Printed transcripts of the Social-Cognitive Learning Theory: Definition and Examples] video lesson and hard copies of the lesson quiz
  • Audio/visual equipment
  • Common actions listed on individual slips of paper, such as:
    • Jumping jack
    • Draw a square
    • Draw a triangle
    • Push-up
    • Make a paper airplane
    • Swing a hoola-hoop on your arm
    • Braid hair (or yarn)
  • Hat (or bucket)


  • Have a discussion with students about how people learn new things. Ask:
    • In what ways do we learn?
    • How do infants learn?
    • Is everything we learn explicitly taught?
  • Tell students that you will be discussing social-cognitive learning theory. Ask what they think 'social-cognitive learning' means.
  • Hand out transcripts of the Social-Cognitive Learning Theory: Definition and Examples video lesson.
  • Encourage students to follow along in the transcript while they watch the video and highlight (or underline) any information that is particularly important.
  • Begin the video lesson, pausing at time marker 3:49 to discuss:
    • What is social-cognitive theory?
    • Can you recall the assumptions of social-cognitive theory, without looking?
    • What do you think the implications of this theory are on human behavior?
    • In what areas of society do you think this means of learning is most evident or important?
  • Continue the video, pausing at 5:54. Ask:
    • Why do you think models need to have prestige and power?
    • Why do you think some people begin to model negative or damaging behavior?
    • How does this behavior fit into the theory's assumptions on model characteristics?
  • Finish the video. Discuss:
    • Do you think that all punishments of models lead to the observer refraining from the observed behavior? Why or why not?
    • What is the main application of the information about social-cognitive learning theory?
  • Hand out the lesson quiz. Go over each question and answer with the class after they have finished it.

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