Learning Decays Quickly

17 Jun 2019 10:30 PM | Lorie Brown (Administrator)


Learning Decays Quickly

Discovered by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909), the forgetting curve shows how information decays over time when there is no attempt to retain it. In the early 20th century, the hypothesis grew to be known as a learning curve to measure learning against experience. In other words, use it or lose it. The curve can also be applied as an experience curve to show the effect of training on production costs.

Studies have shown that as much as 50% of training is forgotten within the first day. In seven days, retention drops to 30%, and by 30 days, only 10% can be recalled.

Reinforcement of the material, such as practice, application, and feedback, will increase retention. If reinforcement takes place each day for the first three days, then by the seventh day, as much as 90% of training will be retained. High retention requires both leadership and employee commitment.

I didn’t know about the Learning Curve until I attended our March ATD chapter meeting, Solving Learning Decay. Our speaker, Michael Torrie, VP Learning Solutions at Eagle’s Flight, explained the impact of learning decay with and without positive counteractive measures.

If you will go to their website, eaglesflight.com, and navigate to resource, you can download their featured guide, "Experiential Learning: The Key to Effective Employee Development". Be sure to connect on LinkedIn with Michael Torrie and follow Eagle’s Flight.

Written by Susan Wines, Digital eLearning Specialist

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