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What is Social Learning Theory?

group of five coworkers sitting around a table and talking to each other

Let’s take a little time-travelling journey together.

Think back to your childhood. Do you remember every single thing you were taught in class? Likely you don’t, and that’s okay. You might remember the projects you did, the conversations you had, and maybe even the panic over a stress-inducing test (yes- we’re looking at you, mad-minute math tests).

What if we told you there is a reason why those conversations or group projects stuck with you? You tend to remember those key takeaways from great conversations or cool projects because of social learning theory.

Social learning theory was developed by Albert Bandura in the 1970s. He believes that we learn best by observing others, applying the information in real-life situations, and talking over ideas with peers.

This explains why it feels so productive to hash out that work challenge around the water cooler or dive into a project before understanding all of its needs. We actually learn best by rolling up our sleeves.

How can we leverage social learning theory in training?

It works in psychology, it works in schools, and it works in training programs. Social learning-based training programs are proven to have a much higher retention rate than traditional training.

In fact, it has been proven that only 10% of learning comes from formal training, with 20% coming from peer-to-peer sharing and 70% from on-the-job applications.

Training is necessary for efficiency, productivity, and client satisfaction. Leveraging social learning theory makes it more than a box to check. Reframing programs using this theory engrains new learnings into company culture and processes. Social learning shifts the culture to have more agency and accountability. If you’re looking for continuous growth and stronger communication within your organization, social learning-based training is for you.