Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 11

SCIENCE OF LEARNING
SRINI PILLAY, M.D.

SMART LEARNING DESIGN:
HOW BRAIN SCIENCE CAN
IMPACT LEARNING DESIGN

A lot of discussion surrounds the
consideration of different learning styles
when designing learning programs. Some
people learn more effectively by seeing;
others prefer hearing. Then, there are
those who prefer reading and writing as
educational tools. However, there is little
evidence to support this approach to
learning. In fact, most professionals either
regard this approach to learning as a
myth or agree that learning design should
incorporate all styles.
Still, most brain experts agree that
the brain changes in differing ways
for different people. Age, gender and
psychological traits all impact brain
responses over time. If this is the case,
what are some fundamental brain-based
principles that may better inform learning
design, and how can you implement them
in your programs?
PUT RATIONAL LEARNING
IN PERSPECTIVE
For simple things, like learning how to
use a new piece of software, following
instructions may be enough. However,
when complex leadership decisions are
made under uncertain circumstances, the
rational brain is a weak instrument.
Action: Change your organization's
approach to complex problem-solving by
emphasizing that all rational approaches
require engagement on an individual's own
terms. Phase out the use of rational strategies
for complex problem-solving matters. To
enhance engagement, present rational
frameworks in user-centric experiences. Use
your business approach to customers with
your learners, too. Ask them what they want
and build this into the design.

DON'T EXPECT FACTS TO
SHIFT THINKING
People do not live their lives by factual
evidence. They cling to their beliefs. For
example, in 1975, social psychology
professor, Lee Ross, and his colleagues
demonstrated that, when results are initially
reported inaccurately then accurately at a
later time, people still hold on to the initial
information. Numerous other studies have
confirmed this tendency.
Action: If you want people to change
their behavior, aim for deep change rather
than instruction and data. Design learning
that allows people to explore their beliefs
and how their beliefs differ from the facts.
Then, ask them to design actions to honor
their new beliefs. Forming new beliefs is
essential for new action.
PRACTICE DOES NOT MAKE PERFECT
When you want to teach people how to
navigate new systems or operate outside
of siloes, don't expect practice to make
much of an impact. A recent metaanalysis by Princeton psychology professor,
Brooke McNamara, and her colleagues
demonstrated that deliberate practice
only makes up 4% of the "success pie" for
education and less than 1% in the workplace.
Action: People are not automatons. Pay
attention to how they practice rather than
how many times they repeat the action.
When designing learning, ask: "How might
they be more engaged with this practice?"
For this reason, experiential learning
is important. However, the experience
should mimic the real-life challenge and

should take the following factors into
account: How relevant is this learning? How
congruent is the learning with students'
needs? How interactive is the learning?

FORMING NEW BELIEFS
IS ESSENTIAL FOR NEW
ACTION.
MAKE UNFOCUS PART OF
LEARNING DESIGN
Too much focus can drain your brain of
energy, create tunnel vision, prevent you
from seeing upcoming opportunities
and limit your creativity. Your brain needs
breaks between periods of focus to allow
your resting mind to piece together
new information.
Action: Five to 15 minutes of napping
can give you one to three hours of clarity.
Doodling can enhance memory. There
are many other unfocus techniques that
can improve learning as well. So, build
napping or doodling breaks into your
learning design. This will help learners
absorb and retain information more easily.
The learner's needs are important when
designing learning. However, the emphasis
should not be placed on preferred learning
styles. Rather, emphasize creating learning
programs that are user-centric, engaging
and congruent with their beliefs. If you
really want learners to absorb and process
information, ensure that strategic unfocus
is included in your learning design.
Dr. Srini Pillay is the CEO of NeuroBusiness
Group. He is also assistant professor (part-time)
at Harvard Medical School and teaches in the
executive education programs at Harvard
Business School and Duke CE. Email Srini.

T RAIN IN G I N DU STR Y M AGAZ INE - UNDERSTANDING YOUR LEARNERS 20 1 9 I WWW. T RAI NINGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4005174/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3708205/ http://www.educationalneuroscience.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Howard-Jones-Neuromyth-nature14.pdf http://www.educationalneuroscience.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Howard-Jones-Neuromyth-nature14.pdf https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5366351/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649212/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649212/ https://www.scottbarrykaufman.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Macnamara-et-al.-2014.pdf https://www.scottbarrykaufman.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Macnamara-et-al.-2014.pdf https://www.trainingindustry.com/magazine

Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019

Understanding the Learner
Table of Contents
Helping People Flourish Through Great Leadership
Smart Learning Design: How Brain Science Can Impact Learning Design
Meet Today's Learner
Indoctrinate, Embrace and Measure!
The Importance of Diversity of Thought
Training Myths That Won't Go Away
What Does Personality Have to Do With It Anyway?
Back to Psychology Basics: How to Keep Your Learners Engaged
Becoming an Effective Learner in the Age of Digital Evolution
4 Keys to Making Content More Consumable for the Just-in-Time Learner
The Four Dimensions of Character Fitness and How They Grow Leadership Agility
The Human Factor
Accountability in Teams: Changing Perceptions and Moving Toward Implementation
Deloitte's Journey to Gamifying Onboarding for New Analysts
Creating an Amazing Learning Experience: Training and Gaining Soft Skills
Create Effective Adaptive Learning For Your Learners
6 Keys to Understanding Your Learners' Environment
Creating a Continuous Learning Culture
Emerald Group Acquisitions Create a Portfolio of Learning Businesses
Company News
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Cover1
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Cover2
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Understanding the Learner
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Table of Contents
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 5
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 6
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 7
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 8
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Helping People Flourish Through Great Leadership
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 10
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Smart Learning Design: How Brain Science Can Impact Learning Design
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 12
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Meet Today's Learner
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 14
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Indoctrinate, Embrace and Measure!
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - The Importance of Diversity of Thought
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 17
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 18
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 19
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Training Myths That Won't Go Away
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 21
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 22
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 23
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - What Does Personality Have to Do With It Anyway?
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 25
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 26
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 27
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Back to Psychology Basics: How to Keep Your Learners Engaged
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 29
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 30
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 31
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Becoming an Effective Learner in the Age of Digital Evolution
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 33
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 34
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 35
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 4 Keys to Making Content More Consumable for the Just-in-Time Learner
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 37
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 38
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - The Four Dimensions of Character Fitness and How They Grow Leadership Agility
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 40
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 41
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - The Human Factor
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 43
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 44
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 45
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Accountability in Teams: Changing Perceptions and Moving Toward Implementation
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 47
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 48
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 49
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Deloitte's Journey to Gamifying Onboarding for New Analysts
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 51
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Creating an Amazing Learning Experience: Training and Gaining Soft Skills
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 53
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 54
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 55
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 56
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Create Effective Adaptive Learning For Your Learners
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 58
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 6 Keys to Understanding Your Learners' Environment
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - 60
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Creating a Continuous Learning Culture
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Emerald Group Acquisitions Create a Portfolio of Learning Businesses
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Company News
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2019 - Cover4
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