Memory Boosting Best Practices

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Today, we welcome our co-founder and Executive Chairman, Terry Barber to the blog! Read on to learn more about his thoughts on best practices for memory boosting. 

People are more likely to remember what they’ve done or written than what they’ve only heard, read or seen. The differences in retention are staggering. If Edgar Dale’s Cone of Learning theory is correct, people remember only 10 percent of what they read, 20 percent of what they hear, and 50 percent of what they hear and see. But they remember 70 percent of what they say and write…and 90 percent of what they do.

For corporate trainers, the message is clear: to enhance retention, learners need to see, hear, and DO

The reason is based in brain physiology. Strong memories are made by repeatedly activating the synapses in the brain – the signaling pathways between neurons – that are associated with a particular memory. To visualize this, draw a line on a notepad. The line represents a memory. The first time you draw it only a slight indentation is made, but each time you draw over it the indentation becomes deeper. The brain works in much the same way, strengthening a memory each time its synapse is activated.

To enhance memory, the Harvard Health Newsletter recommends these four strategies:

  1. Repetition: Repeating new ideas, names, figures, or other information strengthens synapses, which makes the information more memorable so it can be retrieved more easily later. This is why people practice speeches aloud many times before delivering them, and why sales teams practice effective closings before meeting with clients. With repetition, the desired behavior becomes reflexive, and needed information is more easily remembered.
  2. Note-taking: The act of writing is another form of repetition. Actually putting pen to paper helps learners internalize concepts. (Typing, in contrast, generates good transcripts but actually reduces learning, according to researchers at UCLA and Princeton University.) Handwriting is more effective because, first, it creates additional stimuli in the form of motor memory, which helps ingrain information into the brain. Then, because writing by hand is slower than typing, it forces learners to distill the concepts as they linger over the information, thereby reinforcing the core message.
  3. Mnemonics and Storytelling: Mentally linking information to other familiar, but often unrelated, information helps trigger memory and, thus, improve retention. The names of the Great Lakes, for instance, can be remembered as “HOMES” (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior). Likewise, a pivotal year in the French Revolution (1793) can be remembered as the four corners of a cell phone dial pad. Humans also remember sequences and stories, so putting the information into those formats boosts retention. The Hollywood movies The Caine Mutiny and 12 O’Clock High were so memorable and so appropriate that the U.S. Navy has shown them as part of officer training.
  4. “Chunking” information: Dividing complex information into smaller parts, like phrases in a musical composition, also aids retention. Examples include breaking long numbers into sections resembling phone numbers and memorizing a speech one theme at a time.

These techniques work because they add another opportunity for learners to see, hear, and do, thus strengthening the synaptic connections associated with particular memories.

AllConnect, a service provider for connected homes, is a good example of what this means in practice. It switched from traditional training to Jubi’s adaptive learning platform for its 650 call center representatives. First, it “chunked” training into a series of 5- to 15-minute quests with micro-learning, reflections, peer conversations, challenges, and coaching. Information was presented in video, audio, games, and written formats to help learners internalize the learnings and make it accessible for reference later. As a result, new hires became productive 20 percent faster than with traditional methods, improved their performance by 12 percent, and increased revenue per call by 17 percent.

Rather than presenting information and hoping it’s remembered, AllConnect worked with Jubi to help learners explore ideas and share experiences with peers, practice techniques, incorporate their managers’ insights, and work with coaches to fine-tune their execution in their own organizations. Consequently, Jubi helped AllConnect’s new hires become productive quickly by practicing their new skills on the job, as they were learning.

To learn more about Jubi’s modern learning platform and how it can boost learning retention within your organization, schedule a demo or contact us at 678-427-1107.

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