11 Strategies for Improving Learning Retention (2023)

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learning_retention

With rapid technological advancements, organizations must support their employees with effective training programs. The end goal of implementing these training programs is to upskill employees on the latest technology, help them absorb new knowledge, and process it for future applications. However, if your employees are already bogged down with their day-to-day responsibilities, they may find it challenging to retain new information for a long period.

According to the Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve, humans tend to halve their memory in a matter of days or weeks unless that information is consciously re-reviewed. The fading of learning depends on several factors, such as the difficulty of information, how meaningful it is to the person, how it’s represented, and physiological factors like stress and sleep.

Now, you don’t want your employees to forget all that learning content you put in so much effort to create. So what strategies and solutions can you deploy to ensure high learning retention rates? This article will discuss the most effective learning retention tips for you to implement while training your employees.

What Is Learning Retention?

Learning retention is a person’s ability to transfer new information into their long-term memory so that it is easy for them to recall and put that knowledge to use in the future. In simpler words, learning retention is all about making new knowledge stick for a long time.

4 Factors of Learning Retention

Here are a few factors that affect learning retention for an individual.

1. Interest and motivation

The interest and motivation of a learner behind a learning program are of uppermost importance. When learning is accompanied by a motive, it is often retained for a long time because the human brain tends to focus more on matters of interest. 

For example, a sales rep would be more motivated to learn about a CRM than a marketing automation tool. If trained in both, the seller is more likely to retain the CRM tool knowledge for a longer time compared to the automation tool knowledge.

2. Repetition

Repetition of the learning material plays an essential role in learning retention. The more an individual repeats or practices a task, the better it is retained in their memory. 

For example, it’s hard for most kids to learn mathematical times tables. This is why they are advised to write the tables on paper and stick them to the study board to revise and repeat throughout the day.

3. Association

Paying attention to the meaning and significance of the content or associating it with real-life scenarios helps individuals learn quickly and retain the information longer.

4. Use of multiple channels

Different people prefer different learning styles – some are visual learners, some need hands-on experience, some require an instructor to guide them, etc. Therefore, it’s important to choose the appropriate learning method or technique to boost learning retention for an individual. 

What Is the Learning Retention Pyramid?

The learning pyramid, also known as the “cone of learning,” was developed by the National Training Laboratory during the 1960s. It is a theoretical model that illustrates various learning methods of learning along with their expected retention percentage. The pyramid illustrates how well one can retain information based on the different techniques such as listening to a lecture, reading a book, watching videos, etc.

learning pyramid

  • Lecture

According to the learning pyramid, “Lecture” is one of the most ineffective methods for learning and retaining information. A lecture is a passive form of learning where the learner simply sits back and listens to information being spoon-fed to them by the teacher or professor.

  • Reading

In comparison to a lecture, reading is marginally more effective when it comes to learning retention. The advantage of reading over listening to a lecture is that it provides the learner with reference material to go back to recall the information.

  • Audio/Visual

Audio and visual learning content make it easy for learners to absorb information. Learning a new skill by watching a quick video is more convenient and less time-consuming than reading lengthy, text-heavy documents.

  • Demonstration

Learning by demonstration involves a teacher or mentor showing the learner how to perform a task by walking them through a step-by-step process. Demonstration provides information more clearly than passive study methods and helps understand and retain complicated information better.

  • Discussions

Discussions offer an active, cooperative learning environment that leads to greater retention of information. Discussions stimulate a learner’s thinking and increase participation and engagement.

  • Practice by doing

Getting “hands-on” experience is one of the most effective ways to learn. This method of learning allows learners to apply their knowledge to practice every day, which helps them to retain the information long-term.

  • Teaching others

According to the learning pyramid, teaching others is the most effective way to master a subject and retain knowledge for a long time. If one can accurately and correctly teach a subject to others, they’ll have a good mastery of the concepts and superior knowledge retention.

11 Strategies to Improve Learning Retention

Let’s discuss a few strategies to improve learning retention.

1. Spaced learning

Spaced learning is an effective learning retention strategy that helps people learn quickly and efficiently while providing the added benefit of minimizing the loss of knowledge that occurs with one-time learning. It’s based on the concept that learning is enhanced when knowledge is repeated after certain intervals.

To implement spaced learning in corporate training, break down the extended employee training programs into several sessions or modules of shorter durations with spaced intervals. Reintroduce parts of these sessions multiple times over the next few days or weeks for learners to recall and retain information long-term.

Spaced Lessons

2. Blended learning

Blended learning combines the best of two training environments – traditional face-to-face learning and eLearning – to enable learning retention for new-age learners. 

Blended learning makes it possible to access training resources both online and offline. It engages all types of learners – those who learn better in a traditional classroom environment and those who work best with semi-autonomous, computer-based training. 

Implementing blended learning for your corporate training programs will help ensure that you reach all of your employees, whether they are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners. It only makes sense that reinforcing training by activating more senses helps retain information longer than in a traditional approach.

3. Microlearning

Microlearning is defined as breaking down learning content into small, bite-sized information modules. Microlearning helps with learning retention as it is much easier for people to retain knowledge by completing a single 10-minute learning module daily than watching a 1-hour webinar or taking a long comprehensive course in a single sitting. 

Because of the dwindling attention spans of millennial employees and the continuous distractions employees face while working from home, corporate trainers must incorporate microlearning in online training programs to ensure that employees are engrossed in training. This approach will not overwhelm the learners by not delivering too much information at once and will help boost learning retention.

4. Video learning

Video learning is an effective way to deliver knowledge and consume content in the digital age. This is because visual representations make learners easily perceive and store the information in their memory longer. 

Implementing video training for your employees helps cater to various learning needs of all employees, increases knowledge retention with engaging knowledge transferring, and reduces learning time. In fact, a study conducted by the SAVO group confirmed that presenting learning materials visually increases knowledge retention by up to 65%. You can get started with video training by drawing inspiration from these best examples of training videos.

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5. Interactive and engaging content

An excellent way for corporate trainers to bump their learning retention statistics is by creating interactive and engaging content for their employees. Some examples of this include:

  • Creating a narrative with situations and characters that employees can relate to
  • Creating animation videos to illustrate complex processes interactively
  • Making the content relevant to the job
  • Adding interactive quizzes, surveys, Q&A
  • Using eye-catching visuals
  • Adding personality, honesty, or well-placed humor to drive home key points

6. Apply learning to the real world

The human brain finds it harder to memorize things that seem unrelated or irrelevant to its environment or needs. Therefore, it’s beneficial to create learning units directly applicable to your learners’ working lives as it helps them understand how training will impact their work. As a result, learning retention is far more likely. 

You may improve this and turn learners into active participants by encouraging them to discover the usefulness of the concepts they are studying for themselves. 

Simulations are an excellent method to demonstrate how your learning objectives apply to the real world. They allow learners to see the benefits or consequences of taking particular actions in a risk-free learning environment before applying their new skills in the real world.

7. Teach others

Another way to improve learning retention is by teaching others. Teaching others can include assisting a peer in their studies, discussing what you’ve learned with a colleague or friend, or participating in online discussions.

By engaging with the learning material enough to explain it clearly to others, one can reinforce their own learning. Teaching helps retain more information by allowing learners to interact with the learning material in new and creative ways.

8. Learning in the flow of work

Learning in the flow of work is an effective learning retention method, especially for corporate training programs. It enables employees to quickly access answers to their queries – or a piece of learning material – in the moment of need. 

When learning is visible, present, and always-on in the systems that employees use daily, it becomes part of their daily life and ​​bridges the gap between learning and doing. Learners can make more informed decisions faster and address any challenges with the embedded access to information they have at the precise time of need. Learning in the flow drives productivity, increases engagement, and improves learning retention.

Implement a digital adoption platform like Whatfix as your learning in the flow of work solution to create bite-sized training programs in engaging formats for your employees to access in the moment of need.

 

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Whatfix training flow on ServiceNow

9. Take tests

The next suggestion to boost learning retention is taking tests. Getting tested on new information helps retain the information and monitor progress.

It is a good idea to incorporate quizzes, tests, or assessments into your training courses for corporate training. If the pre-test is meant to challenge your employees, the post-training tests should be designed to help learners retrieve the knowledge and keep track of their progress.

10. Learn from mistakes

Apart from information retrieval and progress monitoring, testing is effective because it allows you to make mistakes. Mistakes are vital for learning retention.

The human brain pays attention to mistakes, making the event memorable and preventing future errors in the same area. Making a mistake is an opportunity to learn and improve. Use mistakes to identify areas of improvement and spend extra time for further retention.

11. Use a mix of learning formats

By utilizing various learning styles and formats, you can incorporate different learning styles of the learner. A preferred learning style will help the learner retain information for a long period.

For L&D teams, identifying the best training method for their employees requires a lot of detailed thought and planning, which can be a bit overwhelming, especially as the cost of employee training is so high.​​ 

Here is a list of some of the most effective employee training methods to ease it out.

  • eLearning: enables employees to learn in the comfort of their homes, according to their individual learning styles and needs. 
  • On-the-Job Training: enables active participation for employees by allowing them to learn in the flow of work.
  • Instructor-Led training: This face-to-face learning style mimics physical classroom spaces with an instructor present to lead the training session. 
  • Coaching: involves an experienced professional – a supervisor, mentor, or veteran employee – who mentors or coaches an employee on specific job tasks and responsibilities.
  • Simulation Training: lays out different scenarios that allow employees to practice tasks that mimic the actual work of their specific job’s role. 
  • Video Training: engages employees and delivers sophisticated learning experiences at a lower cost than traditional training.
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How to Develop an Effective Employee Training Program in 2022
Effective learning with Whatfix

Creating the most effective learning programs that stay with the learner for the longest period may become a bit overwhelming for the corporate L&D teams. 

A digital adoption platform (DAP) like Whatfix provides a one-stop solution for all your corporate training requirements. A DAP enables learning via interactive walkthroughs, videos, and self-help menus and allows you to train employees on demand. It creates scalable employee training flows built directly into your website or enterprise applications – allowing employees to learn in the flow of work. The platform provides segmented, contextual training and development self-help resources to employees in the moment of need, with analytics to measure and improve your training processes.

Learn more about how Whatfix can support your learning retention efforts! Request a free demo with us today!

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