Improve learning retention

11 Strategies to Improve Learning Retention in 2023 

Table of Contents


As a learning and development professional, you understand the importance of ensuring your employees retain the knowledge and skills they acquire through training. Unfortunately, many training programs fail to achieve this goal, wasting time and resources. The good news is that there are many proven strategies for improving learning retention that you can incorporate into your training programs.  

As per Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve, our memory tends to deteriorate rapidly within days or weeks unless the information is consciously reviewed. However, the rate of memory loss can vary based on various factors, such as the complexity and relevance of the information, its representation, and physiological factors like stress and sleep.  

Imagine putting in all the effort to create engaging training content for your employees, only to have it forgotten soon after. It’s not an ideal situation, is it? So, how can you prevent this and ensure that the training content is retained for a longer period?  

You must incorporate effective strategies and solutions to improve learning retention rates. By doing so, your employees will retain the information and apply it to their work, leading to better productivity and performance.   

From incorporating storytelling and visual aids to providing opportunities for practice and feedback, these strategies will help your employees learn and remember what they have learned. By implementing these strategies, you can create training programs that are engaging and effective and have a lasting impact on your employees’ performance and productivity.  


What is Learning retention?  

Learning retention is an essential aspect of any training program that aims to provide learners with knowledge and skills they can use in the long term. Learners can remember and apply the information and skills they have learned over an extended period.  

Effective retention is crucial because it enables learners to apply what they have learned to their work or personal life, resulting in improved performance, productivity, and outcomes. It is also essential for organizations as it helps them achieve their goals and objectives by ensuring that the learners have the necessary knowledge and skills to do their jobs effectively.  

Several factors can affect learning retention, such as the complexity and relevance of the content, the teaching method used, and the frequency of review and reinforcement. Therefore, designing training programs tailored to improve learning retention by incorporating effective strategies is crucial.  


4 Factors That Affect Learning Retention  

Regarding learning retention, several factors can significantly impact how much information an individual can retain. Below are four key factors that can affect the learning retention of an employee.  

1. Interest and Motivation  

A learner’s level of interest and motivation behind a learning program is crucial. When learners have a motive behind learning, they are more likely to retain the information for extended periods. The human brain tends to focus more on topics that interest them, which can lead to better retention of information. For instance, a sales representative would be more motivated to learn about a CRM than a marketing automation tool. Therefore, if trained in both, the seller is more likely to retain the CRM tool knowledge for longer than the automation tool knowledge.  

2. Repetition  

The repetition of learning material plays an essential role in learning retention. The more an individual repeats or practices a task, the better they can retain the information 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 and Relevance  

When it comes to learning, association plays a crucial role in retention. Learners who associate new information with existing knowledge are more likely to remember it. This is because the human brain is wired to remember and recall information that is relevant and meaningful to them. Therefore, trainers and instructional designers should aim to create learning content that is relatable and applicable to the learners.   

4. Use of Different Learning Channels  

People have different learning styles, such as visual learners, hands-on experience, or require an instructor to guide them. Therefore, it’s essential to choose the appropriate learning method or technique to boost learning retention for an individual. Employees can retain information more effectively by utilizing multiple channels that cater to different learning styles.  


What Is the Learning Retention Pyramid?

Learning Pyramid

The Learning Retention Pyramid visually represents the different stages of learning retention and how much information individuals are likely to retain at each stage. It consists of five stages, each building on the previous one, intending to maximize retention and long-term memory.  

1. Reading or Listening Stage  

The first stage of the pyramid involves reading or listening to information. This is the foundation of the learning retention process, and paying close attention to the content is important to retain as much information as possible.  

2. Visualizing Stage  

After reading or listening, the next stage is visualizing the information. This stage involves creating mental images or diagrams to help visualize the content. This technique helps to reinforce the information, making it easier to remember.  

3. Taking Notes Stage  

The third stage involves taking notes. This technique involves summarizing the information in one’s own words, helping to internalize and personalize the information. This stage is critical because taking notes engages both the auditory and visual channels, reinforcing the information and making it easier to remember.  

4. Discussing and Teaching Stage  

The fourth stage of the pyramid involves discussing and teaching the information to others. This stage takes the learning retention process to the next level, as teaching requires individuals to understand the material thoroughly, synthesize the information, and communicate it effectively. The act of teaching also reinforces the information, leading to better retention.  

5. Doing Stage  

The final stage of the pyramid is doing, which involves applying the information in real-life scenarios. This stage is the most important because it requires individuals to apply what they have learned, reinforcing the information and making it more likely to be retained over the long term.  

The Learning Retention Pyramid outlines the different stages of the learning retention process, with each stage building on the previous one to maximize retention and long-term memory. By following the steps outlined in the pyramid, individuals can increase their chances of retaining and applying information effectively in real-life scenarios.  


11 Strategies to Improve Learning Retention  

Improving learning retention is essential for the success of any training program. Employees who retain what they learn can better apply their new skills and knowledge, improving job performance and productivity. Here are some strategies that can help improve learning retention:  

1. Create Engaging Content:  

Creating engaging learning content can help maintain employees’ interest and attention. Interactive media, such as videos, graphics, and animations, can also help reinforce learning. Using storytelling techniques and real-life examples can also make the content more engaging and relatable.  

2. Use Gamification:  

Gamification involves using game-like elements to make learning more engaging and interactive. It can help motivate employees to learn and increase their retention rates. Examples of gamification in learning include leader boards, badges, and quizzes.  

3. Personalize Learning:  

Tailoring learning programs to the individual needs of employees can help improve learning retention. Personalized learning can help keep employees engaged and focused, leading to better retention rates. This can involve assessing each employee’s strengths and weaknesses and tailoring the training program accordingly.  

4. Encourage Collaboration:  

Encouraging collaboration among employees can help foster a sense of community and create an environment of mutual learning. Collaborative learning can help employees retain information by reinforcing concepts through discussion and feedback. This can be achieved through group projects, discussions, and peer reviews.  

5. Provide Frequent Feedback:  

Frequent feedback can help employees identify their strengths and weaknesses and adjust their learning accordingly. It can also help reinforce learning by highlighting areas where employees excel and areas where they need improvement. Feedback can come from managers, peers, or trainers.  

6. Create Opportunities for Practice:  

Practice makes perfect, and creating opportunities for employees to practice what they’ve learned can help improve learning retention. It allows employees to reinforce their knowledge and skills and identify areas where they need more practice. This can be achieved through simulations, role-plays, and on-the-job training.  

7. Emphasize Real-Life Application:  

Focusing on the real-life application of learning can help employees understand the practical implications of their learning. It can also help them apply what they’ve learned on the job, leading to better retention rates. This can be achieved by using case studies, real-life scenarios, and hands-on training.  

8. Utilize Blended Learning:  

Blended learning involves using a combination of different learning methods and techniques, such as e-learning, instructor-led training, and on-the-job training. This approach can help cater to the different learning styles of employees and improve learning retention. Blended learning can also reinforce learning by providing multiple opportunities to practice and apply what has been learned.  

9. Implement Microlearning:  

Microlearning involves breaking down learning into smaller, bite-sized chunks that are easier to digest and remember. This approach can help employees retain information by presenting it in a more manageable format. Microlearning can be achieved through short videos, podcasts, or interactive modules.  

10. Encourage Self-Directed Learning:  

Encouraging employees to take charge of their learning can help improve learning retention. It can help employees identify their learning goals and tailor their learning accordingly, leading to better retention rates. This can be achieved by providing access to learning resources, encouraging self-reflection, and providing opportunities for self-assessment.  

11. Reinforce Learning Over Time:  

Reinforcing learning over time can help employees retain information long after their initial training. This can involve periodic reviews, refresher courses, or ongoing on-the-job training. Reinforcement can also be achieved through coaching and mentoring.  


The Final Word  

In conclusion, improving learning retention is essential for any organization that wants to maximize the impact of its training programs. By implementing the 11 strategies we have discussed, employers can create a learning environment that fosters engagement, collaboration, and personalized learning, ultimately leading to improved job performance and productivity.  

One tool that can help organizations implement these strategies is Techademy’s Learning Experience Platform (LXP). Techademy’s LXP is designed to personalize learning for each employee, using data-driven insights to create customized learning paths that address individual needs and preferences. It also includes features like gamification, microlearning, and social learning to make the learning experience more engaging and interactive.  

By leveraging Techademy’s LXP, organizations can enhance training programs and improve retention rates, resulting in a more skilled and productive workforce