Human Resources, Learning Effectiveness

Best Practices for Employee Learning Retention (Part 2)

[Part 1 of this article appeared in yesterday’s edition.]

Get Learners to Be Active

According to The Learning Pyramid shaped by research conducted by the National Training Lab, participatory teaching methods ensure high learning retention rates. So, if you want your learners to truly retain what you’re teaching them, have them participate in their own learning. Don’t simply give them books and manuals to read on their own. Instead, have them:

  • Facilitate and engage in group discussions.
  • Practice what they’re learning by doing it themselves, hands-on.
  • Teach what they’re learning to others.

Include the Right Amount of Repetition

If you want your learners to remember something, have them repeatedly apply it right after they learn it. And have them do this a few times within a 24-hour time-period before they forget a majority of what they’ve learned. Repetition ensures learners are applying what they’ve learned immediately, and that what they’ve learned is going to move to their long-term memories. Because the more information is repeated, the more likely the brain is to label it as “useful.” While repetition may sound boring, if you’re gradually introducing new information with repeated information in small learning bursts that last only a few minutes at a time throughout one day (microlearning), you’ll see learning retention rates steadily increase over time, without boring your learners.

   Allow for Real-World Application

One of the best ways to ensure your employees have learned something is to ask them to apply what they’ve learned in the real world. Place them in a simulated virtual environment and see how they respond to stimuli and mock scenarios. Or provide them with hands-on training modules that allow them to execute a task on their own with real equipment and tools. Remember that the more abstract a concept is, the more challenging it will be to retain and learn via textbooks and manuals. To allow learners to fully grasp how something works or is done, let them apply what they’ve learned in real life, or in the context of their day-to-day jobs.

   Quiz and Test at Regular Intervals

To ensure your employees are retaining what you’re teaching them long-term, ask them to complete pop quizzes at regular intervals and constantly test what they know. For instance, you may want to distribute a pop quiz for learning material covered in the first module in your training program after learners have completed the third module in the training program. This way you’ll know what information stuck with them and what information they must go over and practice again. You’ll also want to have learners complete brief tests or assignments after every learning module they complete, so they can immediately put what they just learned into practice and reiterate the information they just learned.

To guarantee your employees retain a majority of what you’ve worked so hard to include in your L&D programs, be certain to follow the best practices listed above.