Bridging the Gap in America: An Analysis of the Social Learning Theory and Its Effect on the Achievement Gap

Melody D. Godbolt


Familial structure, economic status, and lifestyle conditions are all major contributors to the intellectual development of all people. The current and continuous achievement gap in education between blacks and whites can greatly be attributed to differences in development. Although all students are expected to be able to comprehend the same information, they are not all exposed to similar environments, causing a disparity in their social and educational values and influences. While people of all backgrounds possess the ability to obtain information, statistics have shown that black and minority students have consistently yielded lower test scores than those of white students. They also show that poverty stricken individuals continuously score lower than wealthier students. Ironically, African Americans also make up a large amount of poverty stricken families in America, nearly 30%. Although laws have been set in place guaranteeing equal rights to all people; there are still various factors that contribute to alienate certain groups more than others, particularly the underrepresented minority. The Social Learning Theory emphasizes knowledge that is developed through specific social environments. The theory suggests that through positive interactions within social learning, positive or desired outcomes will result. However, this can also have a counter effect if a person is exposed to negative surroundings. This paper hypothesizes that the educational gap that exists between white and black students can greatly be attributed to the social learning theory, therefore, linking the social and economic problem with education in America.


Social Interaction Theory, Education Gap

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