Make Learning Harder to Increase Retention


Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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When information is at our fingertips, and attention spans are shorter than ever, it’s no wonder that people expect learning to be easy, too.

But research shows that real learning — the kind which embeds knowledge and skills in long-term memory — is never simple. In fact, easy in (little effort to temporarily retain the lesson) typically results in hard out (difficulty in retrieving it when you need it.)

To help you and your team strengthen mental storage, interweave tasks and materials instead of focusing on just one for a big block of time:

o Allow people to make mistakes and learn from them

o Require people to interpret new material in light of what they already know

o Use testing as a mode of instruction rather than evaluation

This kind of active learning is important in on-boarding programs, during mergers and acquisitions, and for transferring expertise.

Adapted from “Why Organizations Need to Make Learning Hard,” by Dorothy Leonard.

To check out that resource and join the discussion, please click here.

Also, you may wish to check out an anthology, Management Tips from Harvard Business Review, by clicking here.

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