11 Strategies for Improving Learning Retention (2023)
With rapid technological advancements, organizations must support employees with effective training programs.
The end goal of implementing these types of 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 an extended period.
According to the Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve, humans tend to halve their memory in 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 you can 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 recall the information.
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.
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. The demonstration provides information more clearly than passive study methods and helps understand and retain complicated details better.
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 learning methods. This learning style allows learners to apply their knowledge to practice every day, which helps them retain the information long-term.
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.
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.
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.
With a digital adoption platform (DAP) like Whatfix as your learning in the flow of work solution, you can create bite-sized training programs in engaging formats for your employees to access at the moment of need, with in-app guidance and self-help support, all overlaying on to your applications and digital processes.
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
Workforces are made up of many personality types that all have unique styles of learning. While one person may find video training a more effective learning format, another may prefer job shadowing. It’s important for L&D professionals to implement various types of employee training and learning programs to accommodate different styles of learning.
Multimodal learning programs bring together different employee training methods to build custom learning strategies for different types of learners – increasing knowledge retention, training engagement, and ROI for training programs. This kind of learning is designed to make use of a number of human senses, including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (VARK) – all to enhance understanding and help learners remember concepts better.
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!