The following blog post was written by guest blogger, Jackie Morton.
Looking for ideas on how to improve training? Try focused attention and hippocampus activation to help increase knowledge retention
Engaging and recruiting great people are familiar concepts, but these terms can also be relevant on the training front. I recently spoke with a manager who was struggling to recruit quality candidates. He said something that I have heard many times; “if I could just find people with the right attitude I could train them”. When it comes to training it may be time that we look at the concepts of engaging and recruiting a little differently.
How successful are we at training, even when we do find people with the “right attitude”? With the most common approach to training being one time, event-based, the needs of the human brain are often disregarded. Learning and memory formation happens within the brain so perhaps it holds some insights about how to improve the training process.
Engaging Focused Attention
The starting point for learning is focused attention, but it is a more limited resource than people think. In his book Your Brain at Work, David Rock explains some misconceptions about the brain’s capacity to hold information in mind. It seems conventional wisdom has been informed by a study back in 1956, which suggested that the human mind can hold a maximum of seven items at once.
More recent research has revealed that the number is actually more like four, and that depends on the complexity. If the information is brand new, and more than a single word or number, it’s more likely to be just one. When we present a vast amount of information all at once we may not be engaging focused attention sufficiently to even begin the process of embedding it in long term memory. However, there are steps we can take to improve that process.
Recruiting the Hippo Camping
One way is by recruiting specific regions of the brain during training, such as the hippocampus, which is known to be vital for creating long term memories. This region works particularly well when the content is visual. Joshua Foer sheds light on the fascinating ability of the human mind in Moonwalking with Einstein. To improve memory, Joshua learns from mental athletes and draws on ground breaking research. The human brain has evolved to remember visual imagery much better than other forms of information. Recruiting the hippocampus, by linking dynamic images to key concepts, may help improve knowledge retention.
Strengthening upfront training practices with some insights about the brain can aid in the challenge to embed information long term in the minds of our people. That is, once we’ve managed to recruit and engage them!
Guest Author Bio
Jackie Morton is the Director of Human Resources at MacKay LLP. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, as well as certificates in behavioral science, professional counseling and emotional intelligence facilitation. Jackie is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in the Neuroscience of Leadership, at the NeuroLeadership Institute through Middlesex University.