You can follow a one-day training, but don’t expect the knowledge to be retained for more than a couple of days!

No matter how much we want to: you can’t expect your employees to retain knowledge for months without offerin them a suitable form of training. However, this still happens quite a lot. Organizations are sending staff to trainings a couple of days per year and are surprised when staff lapse back to old behavior.

We all agree that training is important. More knowledge leads to more confidence in the workplace, which will make it easier to make choices. It is important for companies that employees are up-to-date with new developments and that they develop more insight into complex workprocesses.

Most training methods are still focussed on a full day, during which the focus is on learning new, or getting better acquinted with known techniques. A facilitator will work with the team, by providing a presentation or interactive workshop. During these days much knowledge is acquired. Luckily these trainings are getting more effective and fun to participate in. However there is not much focus on the improvement of retaining knowledge.

Research by Herman Ebbinghaus, conducted in 1885, shows that 50% – 80% of knowledge is lost within the first day after the training. After a week the percentage of knowledge lost is: 70%. Only 2% of knowledge is retained in the month after the training. This effect is called the “curve of forgetting”. In this article you will read more on this effect.

For the real enthousiasts: E. O. Finkenbinder has published an interesting research paper in 1918. It’s called: The Curve of Forgetting.

MicroGames are, more than traditional training methods, compliant with the ideas and solutions provided in research. It is important that employees train in an effective, active way and also that the acquired knowledge is retained for more than a month.

Effective and durable trainings are dependent on knowlegde retention, in other words; how much of the acquired knowlegde does the student remember in time? There are 5 important factors that influence the retention of knowledge in a positive way:

  1. Offer the teaching materials in clear and focussed learning goals;
    To retain knowledge properly, the teaching materials must be offered in bitesized pieces. These chunks of information are trained step by step. Dividing up knowlegde will ensure that it is clear which competences are being trained and when knowledge is stored in the memory.

  2. Offer learning goals in short learning interventions;
    Our concentration can’t be maintained for longer than 15 minutes. After about 20 minutes your attentionspan is minimal and you will barely absorb any more information. Train with short interventions and take a break inbetween.

  3. Disperse the offer of learning interventions over multiple dayes/weeks;
    15 Minutes a day is better than one hour a week. Knowlegde is retained longer when training intervals are spread out over several days. Activating knowledge a day later ensures that knowledge from the working memory is transferred to the short term memory, there it will be retained longer. An additional benefit of this method is that the workingpressure is lowered to an acceptable level.

  4. Make sure learning interventions are repeated regularly;
    Knowledge must be reactivated as long as it takes to be recorded into the longterm memory. This will in most cases happen during daily routines and activities. However, not all theorie is used on a daily basis and therefore it is sensible to repeat learning interventions regularly.
  5. Provide employees with clear feedback on progress;
    Insight in progress helps students to measure how much they have advanced. This builds confidence and motivates students to take the next step in the training. With the correct feedback the area’s in which mistakes are made will become apparent, as well as how the students can improve themselves.  

We have been developing MicroGames for some years now and we are measuring a growing percentage of retained knowlegde in our target audiences. Experience teaches us that the tools are working, on the condition that they are deployed in the correct manner. Luckily more and more organizations realize that knowledge cannot be transferred and remembered in just one day. Multiple smaller interventions on a daily basis will have a stronger effect.

It isn’t necessary to train harder, as long as you are training smarter.