The Social and Situation Theory of Learning

The social and situation theory of learning was advanced by Bandura, Lave and Wenger, and Salomon. It views the learning process as interaction and observation in social contexts. It sees the process as movement from periphery to the centre of a community in solving the practical issues that the people are facing. It views the learning process as a social process that must be relevant to the learners and to their community as well. Its locus of learning is in the relationship between people and their environment in their social set up. The learning process should be focused on the lives of the people. People understand and are interested in learning that is surrounding them and that directly affects them.

In adult education, this theory is manifested in socialization aspect of the learners. Adult education must encourage socialization and participation in the learning process which would translate or will help the learners participate effectively in their communities. It encourages social participation in working together build a just society. It advances theories of associationalism in adult education. This helps to prepare the learners in creating association which works in their daily lives. This theory considers the relevance of the learning process to the learners and the immediate society.

The social orientation theory emphasizes on the social environment depicting the relevance of the education model to both the learner and the society. The social orientating theory sees the learning process as that which moves from the individual to the community. Therefore it sees the learning process as of more relevance to society and the individual person.


All learning theories have an aspect in themselves that may definitely help adults in their learning process. These theories take into consideration the learning environment, the contents of leaning and the impact of learning to the individual and the society. Therefore they should be the basic theories to consider when putting into practice any adult learning model.

By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A., Human Resource Development

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