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Social cognitive theory (SCT) is an account of human behavior and learning developed during the last half of the 20th century by Albert Bandura, a Canadian psychologist and professor of psychology at Stanford University. SCT is one of the most influential psychological theories of learning informing contemporary education. Its theoretical assumptions and the ways in which they have enabled and constrained educational inquiry and practice deserve careful, critical consideration.

SCT’s core postulate is that our behavior, thinking, and learning are constituted within a triadic, reciprocal interactivity among personal, behavioral, and environmental factors in which each set of factors is connected causally and bidirectionally to the others. This core assumption is accompanied by two additional and closely related assumptions: (1) that persons have a constrained, yet ...

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