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establish what the learner already knows about the concept as this minimises the discounting of the new information. Another strategy that helps to

embed learning is to have learners guess answers, even if they get the answer wrong – they will remember the correct answer for longer than had they just been told the information.8 Tese are just some of the ways

to stimulate our brains to learn and remember more effectively in a training environment. Te real learning, as we all know, happens when we leave the workshop.

How can we optimise recall, retention and application back in the workplace?

So we can tick the box for having delivered the training, but how do we ensure that learning is transferred back to the work environment?

Reflection and review Tis is often an overlooked element of training, especially if time is tight, yet a good review of what was learned will help embed learnings and facilitate transfer from short- to long-term memory. If cutting anything from the programme, don’t let it be this.

Repetition I used to work for a global software company and often the systems training for clients would take place up to six months before the system went live. Te poor users were

expected to remember how to use the system and, of course, very few remembered much, if anything at all. We know from the work of Herman that even after the first


day we can forget up to 70% of what we have learned, so leaving large spaces of time before someone gets to apply their learning can be a real challenge. Frequent, and recent, repetition is the key to strengthening those newly carved neural pathways. Te more we repeat the action, the deeper the pathway is carved and the more automated and easier the response becomes. Research- ers at the University of California Irvine identified that repetition of learning leads to creation of more complete memories and easier recall. Ways you can facilitate application

of learning include ensuring that your learners get to brief others as soon as possible after the training. Ask the learn- er’s manager to have them present their key findings and how this applies spe- cifically to their role. Ask the learner to create a post-training plan and check in regularly that this is being implemented.

Follow up follow through As a facilitator and trainer, my greatest sense of achievement comes from positive feedback months or longer after the training. A good system is to schedule follow up communications with the learner 24 hours, a week, a month, three months and six months after training.10

act as reminders for what was covered

and also gradually introduces expansions on the concept or additional sources of learning related to the original topic. In summary, it’s important to

acknowledge that yes, additional effort is required to operate in this way, but consider the true cost of learners not applying what they have learned back in the workplace. Aren’t we all – client, learner and trainer – looking for a healthy return on investment?

Clare Edwards is director of BrainSmart. Follow her on Twitter @BeingBrainSmart or contact her at

References 1 Doidge N, The Brain that Changes Itself, Penguin Books, 2008.

2 Riener C, Willingham D, The Myth of Learning Styles, University of Virginia.

3 Fifth Sense, psychology and smell,

4 Gardner H, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, NewYork Basic Books, 1983.

5 Curiosity prepares the brain for better learning,

6 Narrative stories as mediators for serial learning,

7 McGaugh JL, Howemotions strengthen memory,

8 Kornell N, Hays MJ, Bjork RA, ‘Unsuccessful retrieval attempts enhance subsequent learning’, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Vol 35(4), Jul 2009, 989-998.

Tese communications

9 On the form of forgetting,

10 Stellar Learning – howto be a brain friendly trainer,

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