Learning and Localization Blog

How the Forgetting Curve Impacts Your Training

Published on Sep 08, 2020

Over 75% of the training you develop will be forgotten in two months. Discover three proven ways you can minimize this effect and increase their retention.


As the video explores, the Forgetting Curve is a proven phenomenon. It has been shown that up to 75% of your traditional training will not be retained after a month. Let’s explore three ways to minimize this effect

The Spacing Effect

In traditional eLearning, you take an online course (typically for 20-60 minutes) and then you’re done. The learning is not reinforced over time. 

However, you can design learning experiences so that knowledge is reinforced by extending the learning over spaced intervals of time. These intervals of training can vary from days to weeks. 

Using a system like Qstream that automatically sends new and review content supports this method. As content is pushed to workers on a regular basis, they can keep the course information top of mind. 

The Training Effect 

Another way to minimize the effect of the Forgetting Curve is to leverage the training effect. This design flips traditional learning- here, the question is presented first and then the explanation follows. This design increases retrieval by forcing workers to actively learn, rather than read through a lot of content with little interactivity (like much traditional eLearning). 

The testing effect uses questions and immediate feedback to activate more areas of the brain during the learning process to increase comprehension and retention. When combined with the Spacing Effect, it can prove to be a powerful combination. For example, in Qstream, when workers answer a question wrong, they will not only get immediate feedback, but they’ll have the opportunity to to answer it again a few days later. This helps increase long term retention of the content.

An Ecosystem of Learning Resources

Minimize forgetting by providing workers with multiple ways to reinforce their learning while in the flow of work. When working weeks or months after they have finished their eLearning, workers often need to recall, review, or practice what they’ve learned. If there’s an ecosystem of learning resources readily available to them, they will be able to access what they need, when they need it. For example, beyond reviewing a traditional eLearning course, workers can access:

  • Infographics to quickly recall key facts
  • Podcasts to hear organization leaders sharing the importance of the course content to the business
  • Downloadable templates and checklists to apply their knowledge to their work
  • Related news articles and blogs to discover how the eLearning content is related to current events

The Bottom Line

The goal of most workplace training is to improve worker performance. Traditional learning designs, regardless of modality (i.e., in-person, eLearning course, informal), are all susceptible to the Forgetting Curve, rendering the time, cost, and effort of your training initiatives to be less effective. But when your workforce is actively engaged with the learning content over a period of time in a variety of ways, the power of the Forgetting Curve can be minimized.

Article by Johnny Hamilton
Johnny Hamilton is a thought leader, author, and full-stack learning designer who has led projects that have resulted in over a dozen industry awards in corporate learning innovation from Brandon Hall, BIG Innovation, eLearning Magazine, and American Business Association.

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