The goal of training is to have our learners retain the knowledge and skills they’ve gained in training so they can apply them back at the workplace. This concept is often referred to as “training transfer.” As corporate trainers, we need to ensure this transfer of knowledge and skill takes place by delivering content and facilitating classes in ways that maximize learner retention.
There are many proven techniques we can use to increase levels of learner retention. I’ve included a few that I’ve used successfully in my courses for you to use in yours!
Incorporate Multi-Sensory Learning
Multi-sensory learning is about giving your learners an opportunity to use multiple senses while in a learning environment. It’s proven that rates of retention increase when multi-sensory learning strategies are used.
Years ago, I sat through a “training” course that turned out to be nothing more than a lecture delivered by a subject-matter expert. Unfortunately, the speaker only engaged my sense of hearing during his lecture, so I mentally checked-out after ten minutes and took away little of the information he shared.
Months later, I attended another course presented by an experienced instructor who clearly knew the value of multi-sensory learning. She briefly lectured using techniques that kept me engaged—varying her volume and vocal inflection, and using multi-media with colorful slides and visuals. Most importantly, when she ended her highly engaging lecture, she gave the learners an opportunity to apply the content in various activities and exercises.
I can honestly say I remembered much more from my second training experience than I did from the first because my sense of hearing, sight, and touch, were engaged.
Use Descriptive Language
What is descriptive language? Descriptive language involves the use of various figures of speech (e.g. metaphors, analogies, stories, and anecdotes) while delivering course content.
While it’s easy to simply read information directly from your facilitator guide or your multi-media slides, delivering content in this manner falls short when it comes to increasing learner retention.
Go ahead! Paint a mental picture for the learners! Doing so may help them link the course content to a memorable sound, smell, or touch they’ve experienced in their lives. Using this technique will bring your courses to life, and make them more interesting and significant for your audience. Descriptive language can also be used to open or close your course, add an element of surprise, or regain the attention of your learners after lunch or a break.
Remind your learners they’re welcome to take notes, in whatever form works best for them (e.g. outlining, full sentences, or mind mapping), during your presentation. According to blogger, Dustin Wax from lifehack.org, “When we write something down, as far as our brain is concerned, it’s as if we are doing that thing. Writing the information seems to act as a kind of mini-rehearsal for doing it.”
Another important point to consider about note-taking is to encourage your learners to handwrite their notes rather use a computer or mobile device. Handwritten notes are a slower and more methodical process that forces the learner to listen and summarize in their own words. Research shows digesting information and writing it in your own words can help foster comprehension and retention.
Increasing learner retention isn’t always the easiest task to accomplish in the corporate classroom; however, by engaging multiple senses, using descriptive language, and encouraging note-taking, your learners will retain more of what they learn during your training so they can use it back on the job!
For more tips on using descriptive language in your training courses, check out Langevin’s How Adults Learn workshop—in cities across North America or live and online in our virtual classroom!
Greetings from Chicago! My name is Jeff Welch and I’ve been a Course Leader with Langevin Learning Services since December, 2000. However I’ve been involved with Langevin since the mid 90’s. I attended Langevin courses as a participant before becoming an instructor.