Learning Made to Stick


Authors Brown, Roediger III and McDaniel, in their excellent book, Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning , challenge commonly accepted approaches to learning and recommend several learning strategies that are supported by neuroscience. It is thought that “massed practice” (practising something over and over again) is an effective learning strategy but the authors debunk this myth by suggesting that this strategy will not embed newly learned principles into longer term memory.

The authors suggest several strategies that will build the neural networks in the brain that are key to long term material retention:

  • Spaced out practice
  • Interleaving subject matters
  • Retrieving new learning from memory
  • Elaboration
  • Generation
  • Reflection
  • Extraction

They make a strong case that, in order to be effective, learning takes time and effort and that there are no shortcuts to encode new principles and skills into long term memory. Perhaps this is why so many corporate training programs fall off the rails – training professionals are looking for “quick fixes” that simply don’t exist.

Anyone who has ever experienced Points of You knows that this is a highly effective and results-oriented way for adults to learn. The use of evocative photos, storytelling and inspirational stories and quotations are proven in helping embed new skills and subject matters into long term memory. The Points of You approach to learning works because:

  • Visuals are very effective with regards to long term memory retention
  • Telling stories helps people in the process of “elaboration” – giving new material meaning by expressing it in one’s own words and connecting it with existing knowledge
  • Visuals and storytelling help expand people’s perspectives and are instrumental in helping them think about problems in greater depth – a key learning strategy (generation) that helps reinforce long term learning
  • Learners are encouraged to reflect on their personal stories and derive meaning from them
  • Learners can tell stories that personalize their experiences with new material and help extract key concepts that are critical in the learning process

It is high time that training professionals start to learn about the human brain and understand the processes involved in long term memory. If they do so, they will understand that many of their training programs are based on false learning assumptions and need to be revamped. At Points of You, we are proud to be pioneering much-needed changes in the training industry.

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