Webinar Summary: The Science of Learning in Action

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of participating in a webinar on ATD’s increasingly popular Science of Learning Community (now available on-demand). The idea for this webinar came from a common need we’ve been seeing in the learning community and that is the need to practically apply the science of learning. The webinar was aptly titled: “The Science of Learning – 7 Actionable Insights From Real Data.”

Our two featured speakers for the webinar were Dr. Alice Kim and our Vice President of Development, Phil Menary. Alice and Phil each shared a number of insights based on data gathered from over 250,000 learners from the Axonify platform. Before sharing the insights, Phil set the stage by citing some statistics from Bersin’s Modern Learner infographic. The most interesting number that Phil highlighted from Bersin’s research, is that the modern learner only has 1% of a typical workweek to focus on training and development. In many ways, this webinar was about how to leverage the science of learning to maximize that 1%.


Here are three of the seven insights that were shared on the webinar:

1. Spacing improves retention

According to the data, employees retain more information if it’s spaced out over time as opposed to being delivered all at once. In thinking about how this could apply to the modern learner, imagine if ‘training bootcamps’ ceased to exist (this was actually a question on the webinar). Instead, what if the same information was delivered to the learner in short bursts over a long time?

2. Repetition improves confidence

Confidence is extremely powerful. When it becomes dangerous is when an employee is highly confident in the incorrect information (think of a safety procedure for example). The data Phil shared on the webinar, which is taken from a large cross-section of companies, shows a very high correlation between repetition of information and confidence growth:

the impact of repetition on confidence

Rather than just showing and testing an employee something once, what if you used a small portion of your allotted 4.8 minutes in a day to test them on it again? How does it affect your environment if you’ve employees who are highly confident in the wrong information?

3. Tangible rewards increase participation

There was a lot of discussion around this point on the webinar. Tangible vs. intangible rewards and even the topic of extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation is something that been discussed in learning literature for a long time. The data Phil presented shows something very clear: tangible rewards have a strong correlation with participation.

how rewards relate to participation

Coming back to the modern learner … this is one way you can get him or her to actually engage in training and development within those 4.8 minutes a day. Rewards don’t need to be elaborate, Phil suggested some creative examples such as an executive’s parking spot for the day or even some company swag.

To discover the rest of the insights, you can watch a full recording of the webinar and get the webinar slides anytime on ATD’s website (note: you might have to register for a free ATD account if you don’t already have one).

Tell us, what are you doing to maximize the 1%?

Written by Shum Attygalle

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