How Quickly They Forget: Leveraging Science for an Unforgettable Learning Strategy

li lens 1

What good is all the effort you put into learning programs when most people forget 40% of what they just learned only 20 minutes after they finish a course? (1)  It only means that you’ve got to spend a majority of your time figuring out how to increase retention so employees have the expertise they need to perform at their jobs. This is where the science of learning can be a big help. 

Learning and Job Performance 

When you think about what a person needs to know to do their jobs as effectively as possible, it’s really less about knowledge and more about expertise. 

Knowledge on a topic or system is typically part of corporate or foundational learning, like how to use a CRM or how to persuade people when selling. The typical model used is in a classroom or virtual instructor-led where it’s about to teach, study, test. 

Expertise is focused on operational learning—what people need to know to do their jobs. It’s a combination of skills, knowledge, and experiences that’s often needed in the flow of work. Unlike knowledge, expertise is not easily automated and is often unique to your company. The model here is more about enabling employees to find, learn, do. The reality is employees need both knowledge and expertise to excel, and to help the company reach its goals.

We know not everyone learns in the same way. Some learn by seeing, others by hearing, and there are those who learn by doing.

Six Strategies for Effective Learning

Cognitive psychological scientists who study how humans learn have landed on six strategies proven to promote learning:

  1. Concrete examples use specific examples to understand abstract ideas. 
  2. Dual coding combines words and visuals. 
  3. Elaboration explains and describes ideas with many details. 
  4. Interleaving switches between ideas while you study. 
  5. Retrieval practice is bringing information to mind.
  6. Spaced practice is spacing out studying over time. (2)

You’re likely using one or more of these strategies already. The power, however, is in the combination of all these strategies. 

We know not everyone learns in the same way. Some learn by seeing, others by hearing, and there are those who learn by doing. Using all six strategies enables you to reduce the impact of the forgetting curve, access training and knowledge in the flow of work, and build the expertise employees need to be successful at their job and in their career.

How Quickly They Forget: Leveraging Science for an Unforgettable Learning Strategy

How Inkling Supports Science-Based Learning

Our customers know how to develop knowledge and expertise for their employees because Inkling makes it easy for them. They can also leverage all six strategies for learning: 

  1. Concrete Examples

A  furniture retail company uses Inkling to show employees how the same types of furniture can be arranged in various ways to suit specific customers’ tastes. A very abstract concept that can be hard to communicate becomes very easy by showing concrete/visual examples.

  1. Dual coding

Companies that need to show complex photos/graphics about products use Inkling to allow employees to hover over areas of the photo/graphic where they can click to get more details. 

  1. Elaboration

Many companies had to get smart really quick about COVID-19. They used Inkling to provide details on state/local regulations, processes, and how the virus is transmitted—and keep the information up-to-date as things change.

  1. Interleaving

Insurance companies have different types of coverage like personal or commercial. Employees need to be well-versed on many at the same time and can easily switch back and forth between various coverage, whether they are with a customer, in the office, or at a site. 

  1. Retrieval Practice

Once the course has been completed, employees may need to go back and reference content. Inkling makes that easy with the library where they can easily search by course or by type of content. They can even search third-party content that you’ve included in your programs.

  1. Spaced Practice

Similar to retrieval practice, Inkling enables employees to go back and search content even if they’re on mobile devices. 

Ensuring that your learning programs are unforgettable and impactful is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, which makes your job more challenging. Luckily, you can leverage science and Inkling to your benefit


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgetting_curve
  2. https://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Learning_About_Learning_Report