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3 Tactics to Fight the ‘Forgetting Curve’ in L&D

You invest heavily in learning for your people; workshops, courses, eLearning and more. Your people give good feedback, say thanks for the lunch, score highly in the quiz...

July 24, 2023

Then go back to work and promptly forget most of what they learned (and actually apply even less). Sound familiar?

You’re not alone. You’re probably familiar with the ‘Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve’ which basically says we forget things pretty quickly.  And that the rate of forgetting speeds up exponentially over time . . .

So what can we do about it?

Here are three tactics to fight the forgetting curve. They’re easy, inexpensive and will help you get more ROI from your investment in learning.

  1. USE REMINDERS: Simply reminding people of what they’ve learned can boost retention significantly. This might be as simple as a summary of the learning delivered by automated email the next day. Or you could use a text message, a short video or provide some extra tips and tricks for them to use. Another great option is having managers run a 5-minute refresher session as part of a regular team meeting.
  2. GET PEOPLE USING IT STRAIGHT AWAY: Use it or lose it! If your people can use the learning straight away, then get them doing it ASAP. If it isn’t something they use every day then set up some scenario-based challenges and workplace activities. The act of recalling and applying what they’ve learned is a powerful defence against the forgetting curve (and transforms ‘knowledge’ into real ‘skills’ at the same time).
  3. SPACE THE LEARNING OUT: This doesn’t mean making it take longer overall . . . But can you spread the same number of hours over a few days, weeks or even months? By having multiple ‘bites at the apple’ your learners get a chance to recall and reflect on what they learned last time, and then build on top of it.

Now it’s time to get ‘meta’ . . . If you see some value in these ideas, how can you reinforce your own learning? Could you use these tactics straight away? Apply them to something you’re working on tomorrow? Or summarise the bits you find useful and use a reminder in Outlook to have them pop-up in two days’ time? Get creative!