5 Ways to Improve Learning Retention

Five Ways to Help Imrpove Learning Retention

As an L&D professional, you’re likely always looking for ways to optimize learning for your workers and employees. 

Not only do you need to incorporate instructional design best practices, but now you’re also dealing in the digital world. That means you’ve got to make sure your eLearning content makes an impact on employees at just the right moment when it’s needed.

In working closely with our customers to help them achieve their engagement goals, we’ve compiled these five common ways that truly improve learning retention:

  1. Make Concepts and Information Bite-Sized

This might be a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget: people can only process so much information at once. That’s why creating microlearning content has become a best practice among leading L&D professionals. Delivering short, targeted pieces of content increases the likelihood that new concepts will be remembered. 

A 2020 study showed that human short-term memory can only manage around four elements at a time. The same study surveyed learning professionals about their experience of microlearning and found that 71% see its potential to increase knowledge retention and nearly 68% believe it can drive engagement.

Research also shows that people learn best by studying information over a period of time, instead of cramming at the last minute. You can encourage this practice by building in natural stopping points, such as watching a video or finishing a short chapter, that help the learner manage their own learning plan.

  1. Test Early and Often

When it comes to independent online learning, the promise of a looming test does wonders for motivation–and retention. A Harvard psychology study showed that “by interspersing online lectures with short tests, student mind-wandering decreased by half, note-taking tripled and overall retention of the material improved,” reports the Harvard Gazette. Learners often struggle to pay attention to a single screen amidst open browsers for social media and email, as well as other environmental distractions. Frequent testing ensures that students stay focused on the task at hand by making them recap what they’ve just learned with a short quiz.

  1. Add Interactive Content

Incorporating interactive material into your eLearning content not only engages the learner but also helps them better absorb what they’re learning. Adding videos, interactive graphics, and other media makes content more engaging. 

Game-based learning is also an effective mechanism to build interactive and engaging learning experiences. Learning games can take learner engagement to the next level with their inherent ability to let learners have fun while they learn.

Of course, you shouldn’t add interactivity for interactivity’s sake; your interactive material must have a pedagogical purpose for it to be effective. But by sprinkling useful interactivity throughout traditional text, your readers will engage more often with the subject matter.

  1. Tell a Story

Storytelling has been shown to also improve learning retention. In a study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, participants were more likely to remember information from a longer narrative than a short, bulleted list. The human brain has a natural ability to remember facts told in a story rather than a long list of facts. This is why storytelling is an extremely powerful tool for learning, and employee training, which often draws upon previous experience or mistakes to convey an improved strategy.

  1. Make Your Content Easily Accessible

Even with the most well-organized content, pieces of information will inevitably fall through the cracks. It’s important to make sure that your content is accessible when employees need a second glance. 

Because 70% of learning happens on the job, mobile learning enables workers and employees to pull up knowledge whenever they need it, on any device. With available and easy to find content, learners can brush up on the material and learn what they might have overlooked.

The bottom line: your learning and training content is only as good as it is valuable to your employees. Using these five ways to improve learning retention will ensure that employees can truly leverage the knowledge within your company.