The Learning Tech

Looking to Maximize Learning Retention?

July 12 2016 | (1) Comment


Why have you spent time and resources developing an employee training program? Most companies develop training programs to improve their employees’ knowledge and skills so that they actively contribute to an overall improved organizational performance. In fact, according to Bersin by Deloitte, “Organizations with high-impact learning delivered profitable growth three times greater than their competitors. Why is this? Simply put—if you can keep your employees current and skilled, you can evolve and perform better than your competitors.” The key of course is in developing an impactful training programfor employees that are prone to forget!

That’s right, even some of the best training programs show lack luster results because the human brain is programmed to forget.   The research conducted by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus is well known in the corporate learning industry.   Ebbinghaus discovered the “Forgetting Curve, ” the theory that memory retention declines over time when there is no attempt to retain it.

According to the article written by Art Kohn, titled Use it or Lose it, Kohn suggests that training programs are developed to be compelling, engaging and relevant with clear learning objectives; however, they neglect to help learners permanently store or retrieve information, thus resulting in substantial learning losses.

The good news is research performed by Professor Henry Roediger suggests that you can overcome the forgetting curve by making the brain retrieve information after receiving it. This retrieval helps the brain to retain the information; therefore, the greater the number of retrieval efforts, the more opportunity for learning retention.

Given this information, the most effective training programs will likely include a series of learning activities used to create learning retention and performance improvement over time.  The learning activities should be layered but focus on a single learning objective or concept.   For example, learners can be presented with the foundational layer, an eLearning course on risk mitigation tactics for instance, followed by a series of spaced out learning activities in support of the same subject material – risk mitigation tactics.   Learning activities can range from a simple quiz, a short video tutorial, to a brief case study or similar type vignette. These repetitive reminders engage the learner, forcing them to retrieve what information they received in the foundational layer to effectively reinforce and retain the learning objective.

Although scheduling a series of learning activities may appear to be overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. You can easily deploy a series of learning activities using an LMS. Learning paths, email reminders and customized reports expedite the administration of your learning initiatives. By following this approach you can deliver more value with your training programs for greater learning retention and ultimately, improved overall corporate performance.

Susan Distasio | eLearning Industry Crusader | ePath Learning, Inc.

SuzieD-4About the Author:  Susan Distasio is an eLearning Industry Crusader focused on advocating for advancement and change in the eLearning and professional development industry.  An avid seeker of knowledge and continuous improvement, Susan is happy to share her research, observations and thoughts regarding “all things related to learning and development.”  When she’s not out on the learning crusade, Susan can be found with the wind in her hair riding her Harley or simply enjoying life with her husband, Steve, and her Siamese cat, Elvis, and with family and friends.