At the end of your training session, do ask, don’t tell.

That’s what two recent studies into learning and retention suggest.

Researchers found that learners whose instruction ended with review questions performed significantly better on final tests than learners who received closing summary statements.

The boost from questioning occurred for both in-person presentations and self directed written material.

The authors suggest that questioning at the end of a presentation causes learners to retrieve the new information while it’s still fresh in their memory, improving the likelihood that they will be able to recall it in the future.

The research showed that the retention effect lasted as long as nine months after the initial learning event.

Lesson for trainers: Rather than summarizing, consider ending your training sessions with questions that reinforce the key information you want your learners to remember.

Rohrer, D., Pashler, H. (2010). Recent research on human learning challenges conventional instructional strategies. Educational Researcher, 36, 406-412.

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