June 21, 2021

A Deep Dive Into Retrieval-Based Learning

Sam Caucci

Did you know that even after investing thousands of dollars into traditional methods of employee training, both employers and employees are left wondering whether any of it was effective?

Why does this happen?

The answer lies in the type of training program that was used.

Usually, employee training involves bringing in an outside trainer who uses slideshows and lectures in a drab classroom setting, leaving a lot to be desired by your employees who ultimately don’t want to be there in the first place.

The latest research in learning has shown that traditional ways of teaching (lectures, videos, manuals, etc.) are not great tools for helping us retain or recall information.

We know now that in order for us to grow, it is essential to experience challenges and struggle. A challenge mindset is essential for creating a mind for accomplishment. When you think about the act of learning, you might try and come up with ways to make information “stick” in your mind, but the real trick is how to get information “out”. And this is where the practice of retrieval-based learning kicks in.

What is retrieval-based learning?

Retrieval-based learning, or retrieval practice, is the act of trying to bring information to the mind’s surface, which in turn enhances and boosts learning. Purposefully retrieving or recalling information challenges us to pull knowledge “out” of our brains and take a look at what we actually know.

An example of retrieval practice would be trying to recall and write down answers to questions on flashcards instead of just looking up the answers in a textbook. That act of trying to remember helps improve learning more than thinking you know and flipping over a flashcard to look at an answer prematurely.

Why is retrieval important in learning?

We often think we know a piece of information, but end up struggling when we try to recall the answer. This “struggle” or challenge helps us improve our memory and learning capabilities. By making attempts to recall information, it exercises and strengthens the neural pathways in our brain. Plus, it can help us identify any gaps present in our learning.

Cognitive scientists refer to retrieval practice as “the testing effect” in which research has shown that tests or quizzes (not lectures!) dramatically improved learning. In fact, other than tests and quizzes, research has shown that flashcards, practice problems, writing prompts, and games can be powerful tools for learning.

How to make learning stick with your employees: implementing retrieval-based learning.

The key to long-term learning is being faced with challenges and obstacles we must overcome, and retrieval practice can help us do just that. It requires more mental effort than simple memorization, thus the more difficult retrieval practice is, the better it is for long-term learning.

The act of struggling to learn through practice and recall is a lot more effective than repetitive tasks like reading, taking notes or listening to a lecture. Retrieval practice that is slow and effortful leads to long-term learning. In comparison, fast and easy learning strategies will only result in short-term learning.

Learning strategies such as gamification can help information stick and help create a learning environment that is fun and engaging. Using an employee training software such as 1Huddle can help you implement retrieval-based learning tools, like quizzes, without much fuss or hassle. Our gaming platform will provide you with everything you need to help your employees learn and retain knowledge over the long-term.

Meaningful learning with 1Huddle

Active retrieval practice helps promote meaningful learning. At 1Huddle, we offer cloud-based employee training software where you can easily upload and customize your training content for a seamless training experience. All of your employees will have the ability to access their training anywhere, anytime and at the push of a button. This helps make training engaging and kept up-to-date. You can use our game platform to measure their performance and make key decisions on where you should take your training next.

Do you want to learn more about how 1Huddle can help you level up your own workforce? Start your free trial of 1Huddle today.

Sam Caucci, Founder & CEO at 1Huddle

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