The morning after a workshop, seminar or day of learning at a conference is an opportunity to solidify the learning from the day before. The research says that if you want to help make the learning stick two of the proven strategies you should engage in are reflection and active retrieval.
One way to accomplish that is to get up 15 to 20 minutes earlier the morning after and spend 10 to 15 minutes reflecting on what you learned the previous day and actively working to retrieve the key learning points. You can engage in reflection and active retrieval by simply spending 10 to 15 minutes writing down, “What I learned yesterday.” Do this without looking back at the notes you took in class the day before. (I am assuming that you brought a notebook to the class and actually took notes.)
As a trainer you can spend 10 minutes at the end of your class having people go through the exercise of reflecting on what they learned that day and have them start writing out “What I learned today.” Tell them to keep writing until you advise them what to do next. If you see people stop writing after 30 seconds simply repeat the direction to keep writing until you advise them of the next step. After 5 or 6 minutes have them write out Action Steps. These are actions they are willing to commit to take to implement what they learned. After 4 or 5 minutes have them write down the name of an ‘Accountability Partner’. This is someone they will commit to reach out to and share their action steps with along with a timeframe for completing those actions, and ask that person to hold them accountable to ensure they follow through.
Once they have completed this exercise explain to them the purpose of it and also explain that if they want to maximize their learning from the day to get up early the next morning and repeat the process of writing out “What I learned yesterday.” The value of doing this the following morning is that their mind will process and consolidate the information overnight and make new connections. If they really want to make the learning stick, and get the greatest return on investment from the training, have them also find opportunities to share their learning points with their supervisor, peers and others.
In my 8 hour Dare to Be Great workshops I have the participants do a reflection exercise shortly after returning for lunch where they write out their two greatest takeaways from the first half of the day, then write out at least one action step for each takeaway. Following that I have them partner up with someone in the class who is not sitting near them and share their takeaways and action items. About 3/4 of the way through the workshop I have them go through an Active Retrieval Practice (aka Pop Quiz) as the research also supports the value of low stakes quizzes. Near the end of the day I have them go through the exercise of writing out:
- What I learned today.
- Action steps for what I learned.
- The name of an accountability partner.
I then reinforce the purpose of that exercise and issue the challenge to repeat the exercise again the following morning and then create opportunities to share the key learning points.
On the five day Excellence in Training Course I spend the first 10 minutes of days 2 through 5 having the participants write out, “What I learned yesterday.” By doing this in class it means they do not have to get up earlier than normal, it ensures everyone does it and it shows it is important as I am willing to commit class time to the activity.
As trainers we need to continue to find ways to incorporate strategies the research says will enhance the learning and retention of information. This is one way I am attempting to implement some of the research.
Note: I will be teaching the comprehensive five day Excellence in Training course in Arizona, Colorado and Texas this June. Check out the Training Schedule for dates and exact locations and register to participate in this life changing professional development opportunity. There are special discounts for ILEETA members and members of the Excellence in Training Academy community.
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