Important or not, forgetting something often causes people to question what is wrong with their memory, but in reality almost everyone has had an experience with forgetting something. Whether it is as simple as misplaced keys or as unnerving as walking into a classroom with no memory that a major test was scheduled, forgetting is very common.
One of the first people to study the process of forgetting was a psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus. The Ebbinghaus Curve is often used to explain reinforcement, but reinforcement is so much more than the Forgetting Curve.
Ebbinghaus contributed many viable ideas to the field of psychology through his experimentation with learning and forgetting, and these ideas are still applicable today. He uncovered the fact that it is much harder to retain information that has no meaning for the learner. He also showed that re-learning material is easier than the first time and that it takes longer to forget material the second.
Finally, he showed that a person will have greater success with learning if the studying is spread out over time, rather than engaging in a one night cram session. Students everywhere take note: true learning is a lifelong process.
One of the biggest aids to increasing retention is repetition. Repetition includes the review of learned material, along with revisiting of content which has previously been covered. By introducing repetition, learning may not necessarily be enhanced but retention most certainly will.
Is repetition the 5 events that Ebbinghaus shows on his curve? In what form do we repeat the learning materials? Does repeating to remember have a different frequency to repeating to see behavior change? Repetition can have many forms.
The key to successful reinforcement is not only the repetition of meaningful information spread over time, but also timing the delivery of the message. Delivering your messages at the right time of the day can make all the difference.
The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve knows 5 moments of repetition, and in many studies you can read about which minutes of which days these moments should take place. Timing plays a critical role in knowledge retention, but this is often overlooked. The time of the day the repetition takes place truly matters and it is essential for the result.
Remembering Isn't Applying
For example, you can train people on the importance of wearing a safety helmet on a construction site. With the help of the Ebbinghaus Curve you can help people remember regularly so they remember the training course. But this doesn’t mean that they actually wear the helmet. That has to do with behavior change through reinforcement.
Remembering something is not the same as using it. That’s where it all starts. In a result driven Training Reinforcement program, the application and implementation of the learned materials are the most important. Remembering is, of course, part of that.
Download our eBook, Moving Beyond The Forgetting Curve, to learn how Mindmarker helps move your learners past remembering.