What if your staff needs to learn multiple things? You want the sales staff to use the new customer-budgeting mobile module and the sales promotion that goes along with it. Meanwhile, there is a new line of products to learn.

Actually, that’s good: There’s something called the “interleaving” effect and it’s worked in research on anything from athletic training to memorizing word pairs. Most important for you, it works best in inductive learning, the kind that comes from outside-the-lab experience.

It turns out that focusing on one thing, and then going to another, and then returning magnifies the Spacing Effect – people will learn each topic better than if you’d just done interval-reinforcement training on a single topic.

Researchers speculate it’s because switching topics forces the brain to repeatedly retrieve learned material from memory. The best part: This works in the real world. Switching back and forth establishes general rules that can be applied in numerous settings. People will begin to make connections.

Bottom line: Conduct one session on one topic. Prepare the reinforcement intervals. And within those intervals, put in other training sessions, with follow up reinforcement schedules, too. It will end up acting synergistically.

Source: Kornell, Birnbaum, Bjork, and Bjork, notable memory researchers, have finished this research and the article is in preparation.


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