To make a training program effective, we want to make sure that the employees will remember as much as they can from the course. That is how you can ensure that there is a return on the investment made towards the creation of the training materials.
But what exactly is this curve?
What is the forgetting curve?
The forgetting curve is a theory by Hermann Ebbinghaus – a German psychologist. He proposed this theory in 1885 and it gives us a glimpse of how our memories work.
Ebbinghaus was always interested in how our memories worked. He used himself in the experiment by trying to memorize syllables that did not make any sense – like “zof” or “wid”. He tested himself at different points in time to see how much he was able to remember. Based on this experiment, it was revealed that we retain:
- 100% of what we learned immediately after
- 58% after 20 minutes
- 44% after an hour
- 36% after 9 hours
The experiment revealed that as time progressed, the level of what you remember decreases. However, the amount by which you forget also goes down.
With the first experiment, it was revealed that whatever you learned today, only ¼ will be remembered a week after. But what if we review what we learned? Will that help? Based on further tests done by Ebbinghaus on himself, it is revealed that the forgetting curve becomes flatter once the study materials are reviewed repeatedly.
For instance, if you learned something new on Monday, you only have to review your notes twice a few days after to remember 80% of the lesson by the end of the week. And if you review your notes again on Sunday, you will remember 90% of the notes until the end of a month.
With this knowledge in mind, custom training programs can adjust accordingly to ensure that every course will get the highest retention rate.
How to overcome the forgetting curve?
There are two things that we know about the forgetting curve. One is that the stronger and most valuable memories can be remembered better than the weaker ones. The second is that the length of time after learning a lesson can affect retention.
Given these, here are three things that you should do to make custom training program successful despite the obvious effects of the forgetting curve.
- Add reinforcements even after the course is over. The importance of a follow through cannot be denied here. In order to make employees remember what they learned, there should be a recap or a support activity that will help refresh their memory. A survey, feedback form, or a questionnaire can do the trick. This helps in strengthening the active recall.
- Ensure clarity. You might want to make sure that the course lesson is also clear. The information might be better off represented in a graph, video, or infographic. Make it short and concise but also very clear. If you have to, allow the learners to focus on giving them bite-sized learning.
- Opt for relevance. The value of the lesson is also an important factor to focus on. Make sure the employees understand how the course can make their lives easier. If they know the value that it can bring, they will pay more attention to it.
- Make it interactive. Finally, you have to make the course interactive. This will help make the course more enjoyable. That will heighten the learning experience and will also increase the retention of the lesson.
Try to implement these four so you can make your custom training programs effective against the forgetting curve. The more you can implement, the better it will be for the learners.