Vygotskys sociocultural and bandura social learning theories essay

Vygotskys sociocultural and bandura social learning theories essay

Vygotskys sociocultural and bandura social learning theories essay

In social learning theory, represented by Bandura, social-emotional development is a product of the interaction between individual as an agent (personal determinants), environmental forces (environmental determinants), and behavioral determinants (Bandura, 2018).  Departed from traditional behaviorism, social learning theory emphasizes the role of the growing individual as a change agent in the interplay of personal and environmental factors.  Specifically, motivation is manifested through forethought, self-reactiveness, and self-reflectiveness a person can demonstrate (Bandura, 2018, p.130).

Individual’s history of reinforcement or punishment, observational learning, motivation and self-efficacy all contribute to social-emotional development (Berk, 2020).

On the other hand, Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory maintains that social-emotional development is a result of social interaction within specific contexts of ever-changing culture, value, customs and beliefs, and one’s development is brought about by more knowledgeable members transmitting skills and knowledge to the learners within specific cultural context (Berk, 2020).  As such, Vygostky highlights the importance of education that facilitate development within everyone’s “zone of proximal development.”  In other words, through intellectual dialogues, education can facilitate the progression from what one can achieve alone to what one can achieve with the guidance by more experienced members of the society (Van Der Veer, 2020).

Both the classical social learning theory and the more modern sociocultural theory highlight the malleability of individuals to the environmental influences and emphasize the role of the developing persons in their very own developing process.  Motivation, self-efficacy, and self-reflection are among the personal characteristics cited by both theories that can impact the interplay between “nature” and “nurture”.  Bandura’s social learning theory investigates the process of learning, and how environmental factors such as modeling and media influence the learner, and vice versa.  The sociocultural theory, on the other hand, postulates that language exchange starts from functioning as communication tool, later internalized as inner speech, and later will function to regulate one’s behaviors (Mahn, 1999).

Bandura’s later studies were able to demonstrate the generality of modeling effects, and his social learning theory is widely accepted in education and media industry.  Sociocultural theory is widely discussed in education and various efforts have been put in to facilitate development within the zone of proximal development and scaffolding.  However, it may be difficult to operationalize many constructs in the sociocultural theory in order to test and measure those constructs.


Berk, L. E. (2018).  Development through the lifespan.  Pearson Education.

Mahn. H. (1999). Vygotsky’s methodological contribution to sociocultural theory. Remedial and Special Education: 20(6), 341-350.

Van Der Veer, R. (2020). Vygotsky’s theory. In S. Hupp & J.D., Jewell (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Child and Adolescent Development (PP.1-7). John Wiley & Sons.

While all major developmental theories attempt to explain the growth of individuals, each theory has a slightly different perspective. Some theories emphasize environmental (nurture) more than biological (nature) influences. Some theories focus on a particular construct (e.g., cognition), while others emphasize the impact of age range in shaping development. Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory emphasizes fixed stages during which the mind’s capacities allow an individual to learn about the world. Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, on the other hand, is not stage-based and describes growth as an interaction between the individual and his or her environment.

Contemporary theories (e.g., Langer’s theory of mindfulness) typically build upon the foundation generated by earlier theories. Langer’s theory of mindfulness contains similarities to classical theories, such as Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, in that they both agree that development is contextual and the organism is an active “mindful” participant. Langer took Vygotsky’s theory to a new level, focusing specifically on education and the learner. Other contemporary theories include neo-Piagetian cognitive developmental theories, which attempt to address the limitations found within Piaget’s classical theory. Robbie Case, Andreas Demetriou, and Kurt Fischer proposed theories that were extensions of Piaget’s theory. These theorists added concepts that expanded on cognitive functioning within the stages of development. Most developmental psychologists today do not believe that a single perspective or theory can sufficiently explain lifespan development; rather, an eclectic approach accounts for development better.

For this Discussion, you will examine classical and contemporary developmental theories as they relate to current applications in developmental psychology.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review the course text and other Learning Resources related to mid-20th-century theories and recent theoretical perspectives
  • Select two theories from the following list, one from each column (classical, contemporary), that examine the same developmental processes (i.e., cognitive, physical, and/or social-emotional).
Classical Theories Contemporary Theories
  • Psychoanalytic/Psychosexual
  • Psychosocial
  • Behaviorism/Learning
  • Social Learning
  • Cognitive-Developmental
  • Information Processing
  • Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Ethology/Evolutionary Developmental
  • Sociocultural
  • Systems Theory

By Day 4

Post a brief description of the two theories you selected (one classical and one contemporary). Contrast the theories you selected. Specifically, identify important similarities and differences, including an explanation of the strengths and limitations of each theory in explaining developmental processes (i.e., cognitive, physical, and social-emotional). Note: Your descriptions should be in paragraph form, not bullet points. Use your Learning Resources and/or other scholarly sources to support your post. Use proper APA format and citations.

By Day 6

Respond to at least one of your colleagues’ posts and search the Internet and/or the Walden Library and select a current article (within the last 5 years) that is related to the same developmental process (i.e., cognitive, physical, and social-emotional) that your colleague posted. Summarize the article and describe the theory identified within the article.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting and answer any questions. Note what you have learned and/or any insights that you have gained as a result of your colleagues’ comments.


I enjoyed learning from your discussion on Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, the article I reviewed that is comparable as well as can expand the scope of focus you touched on. The article Sociocultural approaches to educational psychology: Theory, research, and application focuses on the practitioners that used Vygotsky’s theory as a foundation to their various avenues of behavioral studies. The recurring findings throughout the article is that behavior is indeed shaped by the unique experiences we have endured and how we dealt with the multitude of choices we have taken in our lives. Your discussion suggests the same and gives concise evidence that Vygotsky had a strong foundation and solid research using behavioral interactions as a tool in psychological studies and development.


GÖNCÜ, A.; GAUVAIN, M. Sociocultural approaches to educational psychology: Theory, research, and application. In: HARRIS, K. R. et al. (Eds.). APA educational psychology handbook, Vol 1: Theories, constructs, and critical issues. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)


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