Focus Magazine - Fall 2014 - (Page 25)

FEATURESTORY The Science of Learning: Improving How We Train I By Steven Just, Ed.D. I t is said that admitting that you have a problem is the first step toward solving the problem. So let's admit we have a problem: From what we know about optimal learning and assessment strategies, most of how we train in our companies is wrong -- absolutely dead wrong. We cram lots of knowledge into our learners' heads in a short period of time, test them with a "final exam" and then send them out to do their jobs using their newly acquired knowledge. Anyone who has ever crammed for a final exam knows intuitively that most of what we learn in this way is rapidly forgotten and our "passing" test scores are quickly meaningless. The German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus proved this over 100 years ago when he produced his now famous "curve of forgetting" (see FIGURE 1 FIGURE 2 Figure 1). Learning is not a science in the sense that physics and chemistry are sciences, but we do understand quite a bit about how people learn, and recent advances in neuroscience are advancing the field rapidly. Assessment is more rigorous - supported by lots of psychometric data - but there is still widespread disagreement over how to use testing and whether it impedes or fosters the learning process. The purpose of this article is to examine consensus areas in these two fields: What most experts agree upon and how we can use these findings to improve how we train and how we test. What Do We Know About Learning? First let's make an important distinction: Training is not the same as learning. What we create and deliver is training; we want learning to occur, but that is not a given. (Yes, we should really call it eTraining, not FOCUS | FALL 2014 | eLearning.) So what do we know about how learning occurs? How do we increase the likelihood that our training becomes learning? And even more important: How do we increase the likelihood that long-term learning occurs? We know that there are three major memory systems in our brains: * Sensory memory * Working memory (sometimes used interchangeably with short-term memory, though they are not exactly the same thing) * Long-term memory As Figure 2 shows, simply put, our goal is to move training from sensory input to working memory to long term memory, where it can be retrieved as needed (like when a sales representative is responding to a doctor's question). This process is known as memory consolidation and we are only beginning to fully understand it in all its complexity. But we do know that the process of repeatedly retrieving long-term memory into working memory, processing it and then restoring it back into long-term memory fosters memory 25

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Focus Magazine - Fall 2014

Focus Magazine
From the President: Recognizing Value (and Vice Versa)
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Guest Editor: On the Cutting Edge of Training and Technology
Front of the Room: The Presenter's Burden
Neuroscience: Learning, Disrupted
LTEN Conference Wrap-Up
Creating a Foundation for Innovation Training
The Science of Learning: Improving How We Train
Sustaining Learning, Driving Results
Member Solutions: Training the Tenured
Podcasts: Delivering Information and Inspiration
Leader-Led Learning: Developing Capabilities
The Power of Virtual Coaching and Mobile Video
Diving into Product Launches
Virtual How: Onboarding Training Programs
Member News
Ad Index
Focus Contacts
5 Questions with DJ Mitsch

Focus Magazine - Fall 2014