Forgetting Curve: How To Combat It In Your Corporate Training

Forgetting Curve: How To Combat It In Your Corporate Training
Rahul Sethi
Leadership Coach and Trainer

The forgetting curve suggests that information retention decreases as time passes. The curve shows how information in human memory decays over time when no effort is made to preserve it.

A classic forgetting curve graph shows that individuals lose their memory of freshly gained knowledge in a couple of days or weeks unless they intentionally revise the subject.

In this post we will learn about various aspects of the Forgetting curve and how you can tackle it in your corporate training programs.

Ebbinghaus Story

Hermann Ebbinghaus was a pioneering German psychologist identified for his work on human memory and the forgetting curve.

He used “nonsense” words to examine memory without the influence of past information in the late nineteenth century. Ebbinghaus memorized word lists and evaluated his memory at different time intervals. His findings suggested that information forgetting follows a predictable pattern, which is now known as the forgetting curve.

What Exactly Is Forgetting Curve

The Forgetting Curve
According to the forgetting curve, the rate of forgetting is highest immediately after learning. Within a short period, such as a day or two, we forget a significant portion of what we learned. The curve shows a steep decline during this initial phase.

As time goes on, the rate of forgetting slows down. We continue to forget, but at a slower pace. The curve levels off, indicating that we reach a point where the amount of information retained stabilizes.

Let’s assume you learn a list of facts and measure the retention of that information over a span of days:

• Immediately after learning, you may retain around 100% of the information.
• After a day or two, you might retain approximately 55 % of the material.
• Within a week, the retention could drop to around 35%.
• After a month, you might retain about 25% of the original information.
• Over several months, the retention rate might stabilize around 10-20%.

Please note that these percentages are rough estimates and can vary based on numerous factors such as the individual’s learning ability and the complexity of the material. The forgetting curve graph visually represents this decline in retention, typically showing a steep drop initially and then leveling off over time.

Forgetting Curve With Revision
How To Combat The Forgetting Curve As A Trainer?

Here are five ways, from a trainer’s perspective, to help combat the forgetting curve and enhance your learners’ long-term retention:

1. Implement Spaced Practice Sessions: Structure your training sessions to include regular review and practice sessions spaced out over time. Rather than delivering all the content in a single session, break it down into smaller modules and schedule follow-up sessions at appropriate intervals. This approach allows for reinforcement and review, targeting the forgetting curve more effectively.

2. Encourage Active Participation: Foster active engagement during training by incorporating interactive activities. Instead of solely relying on lectures, incorporate discussions, group exercises, case studies, and hands-on practice. Encourage learners to actively participate and apply the knowledge in real-world scenarios. This approach promotes active recall and strengthens memory retention.

3. Provide Opportunities for Reflection and Application: Create opportunities for learners to reflect on the content and apply it to practical situations. Incorporate reflection exercises, simulations, role-playing, or real-life examples relevant to their work environment. By encouraging learners to think deeply and apply the knowledge, you help solidify their understanding and retention.

4. Utilize Multimedia and Visual Aids: Enhance training materials with multimedia elements such as videos, graphics, infographics, and interactive presentations. Visual aids help learners form stronger mental connections and facilitate memory encoding. Additionally, consider using mnemonic devices or acronyms to aid information recall.

5. Incorporate Formative Assessments: Regularly assess learners’ understanding and progress through formative assessments throughout the training program. These can include quizzes, self-assessments, group discussions, or mini-projects. Assessments not only help learners gauge their own comprehension but also serve as active recall exercises, strengthening memory consolidation.

Final words

In the dynamic quest to combat the forgetting curve, corporate trainers hold the power to shape long-term retention. By implementing strategic techniques such as spaced practice, active participation, reflection, multimedia engagement, and formative assessments, a trainer can create an environment that nourishes memory. Through your dedication and ingenuity, you can unlock the doors to enduring knowledge, defying the transient nature of memory and empowering learners for generations to come. Together, we can embark on this noble endeavor, harnessing the patterns of the forgetting curve and paving the way for knowledge to endure.

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