Increasing Learner Retention for an Optimal L&D Strategy

Increasing Learner Retention for an Optimal L&D Strategy

Learners’ capacity to retain knowledge, whether in an academic or workplace set up, and their ability to then effectively apply the same in  real time, job-role situations can yield a good return on investment, otherwise it may be a drain on valuable resources. Increasing learners’ retention has thus assumed much importance in the modern-day businesses.

How to apply skills?

In an organisation workers are offered training opportunities so they can learn new skills for all round growth and development. But, when it comes to retaining the skills learnt and applying the same they often appear to be at a loss about how and when to use them in real-time workplace situations.

Increasing retention capacity

This is also a fact that not all the knowledge gained during training sessions can be retained. The focus thus is now on – How much knowledge gained during training can a worker retain? How to increase the retention capacity so to optimally perform different job roles for which they get their training?

‘Forgetting curve’

Learning and development specialists have come to conclude that the trick behind increasing retention lies in smart packaging and delivery of knowledge during training or learning processes. Heard about the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve? It says that only a small portion of what we learn stays in our long term memory stores in the brain. This, then, brings us back to our core issue- HOW TO INCREASE LEARNERS’ RETENTION?

Mixing learning methods

The best way of ensuring long term retention of learning is to prepare a mix of various learning methods. The learning management systems can be calibrated accordingly. The idea is to make sure that learners’ are at the peak of their motivation to remain engaged with the learning process. The next big challenge will be how to convert information into a long term, retainable knowledge for learners.

Stimulating brain

There are numerous proven ways of increasing learners’ retention capacity by stimulating brain senses.

  • It can be done through storytelling and making eye-catching graphics.
  • It can be done through adopting activity based learning alongside theoretical learning.
  • It can be done through a top-down approach to difficult topics.
  • It can be done by dissecting larger information into smaller pieces to present the larger picture.
  • It can be done by having brainstorming and interacting.
  • It can be done by adding an element of human touch to content delivery process as against a rigid and dry one.

Making interesting content

Presenting interesting content is a wonderful way of increasing learners’ retention. But the problem is no single human being is a carbon copy of another. For some a video content is more attractive than the audio and vice versa. Same also applies to a different set of people who prefer taking elaborate notes to either video or audio content. Experts in education psychology prescribe content that is understandable and has a variety for effective retention of learning during training sessions.

Games for long-term retention

Using gamification in learning immensely helps in increasing learning retention. It keeps learners engaged and motivated through the entire learning or training session. The result is a higher level of retention and for a long term.

Other retention methods  

Encouraging learners to participate in group-discussion and group-projects impacts their capacity to retain learning in big, positive ways.

  • Learners not only get to dwell on topics repeatedly but also exchange ideas and remain engaged in the learning process.
  • The learning interdependence facilitates creation of a learning community.
  • In a group project scenario each individual learner learns to take responsibility and do justice to their assigned task making the exercise engaging. This helps increase learners’ retention in turn.

Refresh and restart

And, in conclusion, a system of continuous learning-assessment in the organisation goes a long way in helping learners retain knowledge for a long time to come. It is considered as the most effective way of showcasing retention as learners revisit their previous learning, highlight important points, refresh their memories, reboot and start again, time and again.