Now that I’m teaching more real estate continuing ed classes, I have found the second most frequently asked question is “Where are the handouts?” (The most frequent question is “Where is my certificate?”) This, of course, has set me to thinking about the role of handout material in and after class. The following article addressed the topic contributes some important ideas. Watch for some differences in the courses I develop–and expect to be reminded that learning isn’t supposed to stop when the class is over!
The following article was published in the October 2015 issue of Training Doctor News — one of my absolutely favorite publications on the topic of training and adult education. It is reprinted here with permission. Visit www.trainingdr.com for more information!
Are Participant Materials “Necessary?”
We recently had a lively discussion with a training group regarding this statement: Participant “materials” (workbooks, job aids, infographics, etc.) are “nice to haves” but people rarely use them back on the job.
The group unanimously agreed that rarely do participants use these items on the job, and, more often than not, they are left behind “in the classroom.”
This lack of respect for training materials is quite detrimental to adult learning for a number of reasons:
Most people are visual learners
80% of Americans are visual learners, which means they “understand” information better (and retain it longer) if it is presented in a visual manner. If 80% of your audience spoke “in another language” wouldn’t you present in that language? And yet, we often completely ignore providing tangible, visual elements that complement our training offerings.
Seven-to-ten days after training, people remember only 10 – 20% of what was taught them in a training class
If your “training” consists of providing information, with no reference materials, how can anyone be expected to remember what was taught? Back on the job, it would be helpful to have a job-aid or infographic to refer to in order to do one’s job or refresh one’s memory about the proper process / sequence / tasks.
Brain research tells us that it is better to present concepts in both words and pictures than solely in text format. Typically, 3-days later, text-only information is recalled at a rate of just 15%, but the same information, when presented in both text and visual (a’la an infographic) is recalled at a whopping 65%!
Muscle memory is not a memory stored in your muscles, of course, but memories stored in your brain (although its origin is related to physical fitness). Providing workbooks or worksheets in which participants actually work (answer questions, complete diagrams, underline pertinent facts in a case study) aid in retention because the body is also physically involved in the learning process.
The “problem” is not that participant’s don’t see the value in the learning materials you provide, but rather, the problem lies with us trainers who do not show people how to use these materials while they are in the training. The solution is to utilize the training materials at the time of teaching. Don’t teach a process and then say “Here is a job-aid to take back to your desk,” but rather teach the process as participants follow along using their job aid. The solution to participant materials being “left behind” is to utilize them during the training process so that their usage becomes part of the learner’s muscle memory.