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Seb Anthony

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My own organisation is currently experiencing that strange pheonmena that occurs whereby knowlege just falls out of people's head - resulting in them have to ask the same question 4,000 times.

I'd be grateful for any ideas, pointers etc.
Meg Brown

11 Responses

  1. Presentation

    I have a presentation I co-presented with Professor Newby on self directed learning if that would help. It is rather large (embeded video) so if this would help please e-mail me an address to send it to on a CD RoM. My e-mail address [email protected]


  2. Increasing retention through appropriate delivery methods and fo
    When you are training people, the information will only stay in their head if they have fully engaged with what they are taught. This means a number of things have to happen. First you really have to have their full attention and have an environment in which they can engage. You have to give them the information in a way that works best for them: different people have different learning styles, both Primary (Visual/Spatial, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Verbal/Linguistic) and secondary (Inter-personal, Logical/Mathematical, Musical, Intra-personal). Different delivery methods have different retention rates. The model most quoted says: 20% of what we read, 30% of what we hear, 40% of what we see, 50% of what we say, 60% of what we do, and 90% of what we see, hear, say and do! For most people, the lowest retention rate comes from things they have simply read or heard only once. The highest comes from a combination of methods (hear, read, watched it happen) but by far the most effective is by getting the trainee to teach to others what they have just learnt. This is the value of getting them to share their knowledge with their collegues after the training event.
    There is also also the need to repeat the information to move it from short term memory into long term memory: follow-ups after a few days and a few weeks helps “embed” the knowledge.
    It sounds like your trainers are not making the most of these “hooks” to get retention. Might be time to assess the trainers.

  3. Allow the trainees to pick their own training.
    Blaming your trainers will have a hugely destructive effect on their ability to train in the future.

    The problem does not lie in the training.

    The problem is that the trainees do not want to retain the training.
    In this situation there is no training method that will help unless the trainee wants to be trained.

    There are many reasons why they do not want to be trained and most of them centre around the way that the organisation has made them feel.
    If the organisation does not make them feel valued they will have difficulty doing anything for the organisation that adds value to it.
    That includes training.

    If they have had no say in the training content and have simply been told that they have to do it, they will have equal difficulty retaining anything.

    Remember that when you bought a new TV you did not need an intense, interactive, dynamic, all singing all dancing training course to show you how to use it.

    All you had was a desire to understand how the TV worked and a manual written by a spotty youth in Japan.

    Don’t worry about how the training was delivered.
    Concentrate instead on creating the environment where the trainees want to learn.

    The first thing to do is to stop training them in the things that the training department think they ought to be trained in.
    Find out from them instead what training they need to deliver better service and you will be on your way to retention figures that you will not believe.

  4. self-directed learning is the key

    I agree with Peter Hunter in so far as learners have to have the will to learn for any learning intervention to be effective. Choice over what to learn is therefore critical. However when providing such choices the organisation has needs too. Its long and short term priorities should form the framework from which employees make their individual choices about what to learn. We call this an individual’s “Learning needs analysis” as opposed to the HR deapartment’s “Training needs analysis.” Learners also require support as they put new learning into practice.

    One mis-understanding about self-directed learning (SDL) is that it adds up to no more than providing learning resources for people, for example a suite of e-learning packages, and saying “Get on with it.” Because learners need a form of support that goes beyond the mere provision of learning materials, this approach fails more often than not. A second problem that organisations encounter when implementing SDL is that they assume learners can generate their own learning goals easily and relate them directly to the needs of the business. In practice we have found this not to be the case, learners need help and support to answer the question – What do I need to learn if I am to develop myself and make a meaningful contribution to the goals of my employer?

    Our approach to SDL draws on our knowledge and experience of helping participants to develop effective learning goals and in providing the right quality of support as they set about implementing them.. The main support mechanism we use is learning groups of peers helped initially by a facilitator.

    I can provide you either with a variety of literature based on our experience of designing and implementing SDL programmes or we could talk more specifically about your particular circumstances if that would help.


    Roger Martin
    Managing Partner
    01993 813720

  5. Can’t learn, won’t learn?

    I think people only learn what they want/feel they to learn. If they can always go and ask someone else, there is little incentive to retain new knowledge, let alone new skills.

    So about redirecting those who ‘should’ know to their peers who should also know? And if they don’t know either, encourage them to go find out together?

    Just a thought!

    Best wishes


  6. Psychology of Learning
    My comments follow on from Carol Long’s sugestions ie you may want to consider helping people to become more effective learners and memorisers. It may be worth exposing your trainers and trainees to some basic cognitive Psychology such as you’ll find in the work of Tony Buzan and is offered by the Mind Gymn organisation.

  7. Need to Know On Demand
    I agree with the other responses so far, in that people only retain what they need to know.

    An effective transfer of learning strategy actually begins at the TNA stage. Ultimately, training should only be delivered to those that genuinely need it and even then, newer ways of learning should be considered to ensure that learners only extract what they need from the overall offer.

    In the case of lots of FAQs, I would consider moving those to an online performance support website, where staff could go whenever they need to refresh themselves.

  8. having fun and learning
    Hi Meg
    How about looking at learner centred learning and asking them to create the sessions and you facilitate.
    Good reading is found in Accelerated Learning sites and books.
    Student commitment creates student retention of learning.It is also more fun and much quicker in delivery.
    Have fun and good luck.

  9. Pedantic comment
    At the risk of being a pedant, Carol Long’s numbers are not quite right. Edgar Dale, who carried out the original research, suggested that we remember:

    10% of what we read
    20% of what we hear
    30% of what we see
    50% of what we see and hear
    70% of what we discuss with others
    80% of what we personally experience
    95% or what we teach others

    He accompanies this with a simple model (called the Cone of Experience – (Google him for an example) in which he argues that different types of learning require different types of activity, ranging from Information (‘knowing that’ – declarative knowledge), through Cognitive skills (‘understanding’ or ‘knowing how’ – procedural knowledge) to Motor skills and attitudes (performing tasks – what we might now call workplace competence).

    The significance of this model is that text (a poor medium for learning) is still the best for transmitting information, especially detailed information. In other words, you have to be very careful about what learning you want and select mechanisms that achieve your objectives. Reading is better than lecturing to get across details, supported by questioning and discussion and both formative and summative assessment. It’s pretty useless at learning how to operate machinery. The art of training design is to match the method to the learning required.

  10. Learning Styles
    Have you looked at the work of Howard Gardner and Multiple Intelligences..?

    As well as corporate clients, I work with the education sector. It never ceases to amaze me that so many teachers have never heard of Gardner’s work – agreed he only wrote it up around 1994 and I guess it takes time to come through.

    In summary, Gardner has identified 8 different intelligences that we use – obviously some more than others.

    When training/learning is delivered to people in their key learning style, then retention is increased. Many are familiar with the KAV styles (kinaesthetic, audio, visual) but there are 8 in total, and rumour has it that another is about to be identified.

    You could assess people’s learning styles following a TNA to help you to design a suitable intervention rather than a one size fits all.

    Search on any internet engine and you’ll find loads about Multiple Intelligences. Good luck.


  11. Push Back
    I’d like to thank you all for your advice and suggestions regarding this topic. They have all been immensely helpful and in some instances an excellent dust off of basic principles.

    I’m appreciative.


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