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Double the Impact of Your Learning Program with One Simple Trick

By Jill Pearson, M.S., APTD

Remember those all-nighters you pulled in college? The cram sessions before a big mid-term? We all did it. Sometimes it even worked, and you earned a great grade. But ask yourself this, do you still remember any of that content today? Probably not. Because while cramming might get you through a final, it’s a sure-fire way to quickly forget 80% of what you think you learned.

Learning is a complex process, much of which remains a mystery. But one aspect of learning that’s been proven in study after study, is the brain retains new information better when it is spaced out over a period of time. It’s a theory called spaced learning, and schools have been using it for decades. Now it’s time to reap the benefits in the workplace.

The approach is simple. Instead of delivering all of the content of your workplace training at once, space the same content out over a few weeks. For example, let’s say you are rolling out a new compliance training. You worked with the Learning & Development team to map out a great program that consists of three eLearning modules and an assessment for a total of one hour of learning. Your instinct is to get your team through the training as quickly as possible; you want to check this item off your list. But cramming the program into one session means that your employees are likely to forget more than 50% of the content within one single day!1

Instead, work with your L&D team to apply the theories of spaced learning:

• Include review and repetition in each module
• Plan for employees to take one module per week, across three weeks
• Deliver the assessment the following week

By using this “trick,” your employees now have more than a 90%2 chance of retaining this information for the long term - and more importantly, a 90% chance of applying it to their work when they need it.

You probably don’t remember what you learned by cramming for that test. But I bet you still remember your home phone number from childhood, or every word to that song you listened to daily as a teenager. That’s spaced learning in action. Repetition over time is like glue for the memory. Add this simple trick to your workplace learning, and you’ll see the impact on employee performance for months and years to come.

Want to talk more about this? Leave a comment below, or reach out to us at Our team of creative rock stars are ready to help – just let us know what you need.

1, 2 Farnam Street. (2021, July 2). The spacing effect: How to improve learning and maximize retention.

Topics : Articles, Learning, Learning Development, Learning Solutions

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