An employee can always continue to learn, but there are ways that L&D professionals can help employees leverage becoming more effective and productive learners in their favor. While the speed at which employees learn is important, what they also retain and use to expand their knowledge base is also critical. Therefore, here are three tips you can utilize to help learners become more effective.
1) Welcome Challenges
Constantly challenging learners is one of the best ways to keep them learning – and become more effective in the process. In fact, a learner actually absorbs more information when they’re struggling with learning something, according to Nate Kornell, an associate professor of cognitive psychology at Williams College who studies learning strategies. [i] A strategy for learners to tackle new challenging material is to have it be somewhat related to what they’ve previously learned, as pairing previous learning with new learning is the best way to attain and maintain new knowledge.[ii]
2) Committed Practice
Being committed to always learning and practicing new skills takes rigid discipline and focus. A benefit of actively practicing is that it helps the learner increase memories, develop skills, and become an expert in a particular field.[iii] Daniel T. Willingham, associate professor of cognitive psychology and neuroscience at the University of Virginia and author of Cognition: The Thinking Animal, says that “for a new skill to become automatic or for new knowledge to become long-lasting, sustained practice, beyond the point of mastery, is necessary.”[iv] In fact, research has shown that the best way for learners to retain knowledge is through “distributed practice,” which is intensely learning for short amounts of time spread out over a long time period.[v]
3) Avoid Multi-tasking
While multi-tasking certainly has its benefits at times, when it comes to optimizing learner effectiveness, a best practice is stop multi-tasking. In fact, multi-tasking destroys effective learning – with one study discovering that multi-tasking reduced IQ performance as much as skipping sleep does.[vi] Helping your learners prioritize and keeping their mind focused on one subject or task at a time can help them avoid multi-tasking and maximize their learning output.
While becoming a more effective learner takes time, establishing habits and practices for daily use can help your learners become that much more effective. We’ve compiled three of the best practices here, but are there any additional ones that you implement? If so, let us know in the comment section below.