Guila Muir

Developing trainers, presenters and facilitators to make a difference

How to “Pump Up” What Students Remember

Group of business people hiding their faces behind a question mark sign at officeAs a trainer, have you ever wondered why the information you provide doesn’t always “stick?”

What do You Know About Memory?

Take this quiz to find out:

  1. Learners who can perform a new learning task well are likely to retain it. (T/F)
  2. Immediate memory will dump input in 30 seconds or less. (T/F)
  3. Lifting weights improves memory and cognitive function better than aerobic exercise . (T/F)

How well did you do?

  1. FALSE. Even if a learner performs a new learning task well, chances are high it will not be permanently stored in memory.
  2. TRUE.
  3. FALSE. Although no studies have found a link between weight training and cognitive function, aerobic exercise improves memory and cognitive function of both adults and children.

How Can I “Pump Up” What My Students Remember?

Students can only process input intently for about 10 minutes before losing focus. To prevent the material from fading, we must quickly use it in a different way. In training, this could involve applying the information through an activity, like solving a case study, building a model, talking about how they’ll use it on the job, etc.

In order for information to encoded into the learner’s long-term memory, it must meet two criteria:

  • Does the information make sense? (Does the learner understand it?)
  • Is the information relevant? (Can the learner connect it to past learning and current needs?)

Think of the training YOU do. How well does it meet these 2 criteria for helping your students to remember?

Making Better Training

You can probably guess by now that the odds are stacked against your learners’ remembering everything you teach. Here are 3 helpful, easy techniques to help boost retention:

1. Use humor.
Increased oxygen and the positive feelings that result from laughter improve the probability that students will remember what they learned.

2. Make clear what the students will be able to do as a result of the lesson.
State the learning outcomes at the beginning of class, and return to them as you move from one chunk of content to the next. Be sure to test throughout to make sure your students are actually getting it.

3. Provide prompt, specific, and corrective feedback.
Frequent, brief quizzes will build retention better than one large test.

Remember: You CAN boost your students’ retention. Just use these simple techniques.


2 Responses to “How to “Pump Up” What Students Remember”

  1. The Villager in Devon says:

    I’ve developed training for adult learners in different industries, I prefer taking a constructivist approach is extremely effective. Give the learner nuggets of relevant info (just the facts) then incorporate a teach-back strategy whereas the learners become the teachers.

  2. Guila says:

    Love it!

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