Training Superglue: Design elements that make learning stick

Are the following statements about learning true or false?

  1. The best way to learn from a textbook is to read it over and over.
  2. Learning material is retained if it is easy.
  3. Practicing a skill over and over leads to successful performance.
  4. Creativity is more important than knowledge.
  5. Testing is an ineffective learning tool.

stickyYou might be surprised when you check your answers (see the bottom of this article for the key). In their book, “Make It Stick” learning theorists use research to debunk misconceptions about learning (Brown, Roediger & McDaniel 2014). According to the authors, rereading leads to illusions of knowing, or the misconception that recalling textual information means the reader understands its message. A more effective strategy involves retrieval practice (a.k.a. testing) which forces learners to recover information from memory, increasing the likelihood that they will recall it later when they need it. Learning is also ineffective when it’s too easy. Showing learners the correct answers to questions (or a bullet point list) is much less effective than asking them to first come up with the correct answers themselves. You might be surprised to hear that practicing a skill over and over again, exactly the same way, isn’t as effective as a practice that is varied and dispersed; even better, allowing a little time between practice sessions makes learners put forth more effort, increasing learning even further. Yes, that’s correct, when learning tasks are difficult but not impossible, knowledge acquisition is more effective. So if you are exerting effort in a course you are learning. Finally, perhaps “creativity is more important than knowledge” if you are Albert Einstein, but for the rest of us, creativity without knowledge is pretty useless. Creativity must follow knowledge so that we have a foundation for analysis, synthesis and creative problem-solving.

superglueTo design training that sticks, we must incorporate eight practices that correspond to how people learn (Brown, Roediger & McDaniel 2014).

  1. Retrieval practice involves the recall of previously learned information. The best way to do this is with the misused and misunderstood test. This need not be a formal test that will make or break a final grade but can be self-testing, flash cards, or practice tests. Learners will not only get feedback about what they know but will also strengthen their memory of information. Active training strategies that include quiz games or simple self-tests like that at the beginning of this article can enhance learning and recall.
  2. Intermittent practice means that material isn’t drilled over and over again and then forgotten, but reviewed, tested, and practiced periodically during training. In training, you might start each Module with a quick review of what was learned in previous Modules.
  3. Mix it up by alternating content. Rather than covering a single idea or concept and then moving on, intersperse ideas, skills, and problems throughout training to challenge learners to stay alert and engaged and force them to also differentiate between concepts.
  4. Elaborate by asking learners to relate content to what they already know, explain it to someone else, and relate it to life outside of class (ideally back on the job).
  5. Generation is the attempt to solve a problem or answer a question before providing the solution. In training, you might ask learners to interpret a diagram, take an initial self-quiz, or solve a brief case study before delving into content. This primes prior memory and triggers experiential learning.
  6. Reflection combines the retrieval of information with elaboration. It can be as simple as asking learners what they recall from training and how they will use it in the future. It can also include a discussion of how the training went—what worked, what didn’t—even a smile sheet can serve as a reflective tool.
  7. Calibration is the act of checking knowledge with objective feedback. Although tests can serve as feedback, work-based projects, assignments, and case studies are a better gauge of mastery.
  8. Retrieval tools like mnemonic devices are handy for storing and retrieving information quickly and accurately. Musicians use FACE, geography students recall HOMES, and we use Keep calm at all sporting events to recall Bloom’s Taxonomy.


Brown, P. C., Roediger III, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make it stick: The science of successful learning.

(Key to self-quiz: all answers are false)

So let’s elaborate . . .

  1. Which of the 8 practices work best for you in your own learning?
  2. How will you incorporate the 8 practices in your training design and delivery?


  • For me number #4 Intermittent Practice works for me the best. I find that the learning, testing and then putting into practice cements in to my head. The doing is what really put it over the top . I will use this by having coaching clients try out the techniques that we discussed in sessions.

  • 1.Which of the 8 practices work best for you in your own learning? Great question. Elaborate works best for me. Once I can explain the concept to someone and relate it back to something that I have already experienced on the job it sticks better for me. It’s like the light bulb goes off and makes it easier for me to recall.
    2.How will you incorporate the 8 practices in your training design and delivery? This was a great blog. The information has armed me with an assortment of methods to use to fit the individual trainer. As you can see, what works for me may not work as well for the next person. Having an arsenal of tools to pick from enables the trainer to incorporate more flexibility into the training utilizing multiple tactics.

    • I agree variety is essential. Although all tools should work for most people with typical learning capacity, we each have our favorites, and as research shows, mixing things up is good for learning.

  • For me, #6 Reflection is what I would relate my learning style with. Being able to repeat what I’ve learned by thinking back on it, helps me to recall the information better. For example, I am in the process of studying for my series 7 investment license, and at the end of the day, I reflect back on what I learned from the days study session and that is how I am able to apply the learning.

  • When considering which of the eight works best in my own learning, I have to select reflection. As stated, “it combines the retrieval of information with elaboration” which I personally prefer. I enjoy discussing the benefits and how to appropriately apply what I’ve learned.

  • All eight are applicable to learning transfer; however, if I was to select a personal effective method, it would be retrieval practice. The act of retrieval assists in making the permanent neurological connects or schemas. Retrieval practice also taps into the adult learner’s experiential knowledge, internal motivation and increases learner readiness.

  • as a teacher it’s important to have what you teach your students stick. I like that it tackled certain myths such as, “does reading a book over and over” make the knowledge stick. In my opinion, the best way to make something stick is to associate it with something of familiarity to me.

  • All of these concepts of learning while training seem like great option to practice. I imagine that many of them would surface within the same training session as to not confine one’s approach to a set model. For me, reflection is the strongest method for my personal learning style. I like the process or referencing past knowledge and using new ideals to enhance it. It allows me to be more confident in how I retain and share out what learnings I have experienced. Application to real world examples is also more meaningful to me as well since past information is like y to surface again once triggered in actual situations where it can be processed and utilized. Each of the 8 practices can be implemented in a training session, but the challenge comes wth making it cohesive, especially if there is a short time frame so I would identify those that have easy transitions amongst them.

  • Great piece! Personally, the “elaborate” practice works best for me. When I can relate things to my personal life or to something that is relevant for me, it sticks and I can better recall what I learned. Explaining what I’ve learned to others also helps in my learning process. I am around small children a lot and this helps me to break down and explain information in its most simple form. Details matter!

  • I personally use elaboration, generation, and reflection to make sure I truly understand material I am learning. Knowing it well enough to explain it to someone else usually cements information in my brain. I see the value in all of these methods. retrieval tools are particularly effective; while acronyms like the examples given are useful, songs tend to be the best memory tool for me. I could sing plenty of schoolhouse rock songs that I haven’t actually listened to since middle school!

    I think the most effective ways to integrate these into training is to build them into the lesson plan. Having learners quiz and teach each other, or having retrieval tools incorporated into the lesson plan are all good ways to move away from rote read-and-memorize learning.

    • I love that you mentioned integration into a lesson plan. Having a clear plan with clear objectives is critical for success– I’d agree that there are good ways to move away from rote memorization, but I think retrieval tools can also (sometimes) be seen as a different kind of memorization. If it works, it works!

  • 1) Which of the 8 practices work best for you in your own learning?

    After reading the article, I believe that Elaborate would best work for me and my learning style. I like to connect what I’m learning to real life experiences. I think by relating content to what I already know, helps me retain the information better.

    2) How will you incorporate the 8 practices in your training design and delivery?

    I do believe I can incorporate each of the 8 practices into my training design and delivery by building them within lessons or training sessions. I can incorporate these practices with different activities, assignments, and tests.

    • Agreed, elaboration works best for me as well! 🙂 It’s always helpful to be able to make something personal and be able to connect with it.

    • Very good way to diversify all 8 practices with different methods of learning. Those delivery methods won’t let anybody feel that they can’t learn anything.

  • Out of the 8 practices, I think that retrieval practice works best with my learning style. When studying for tests, making practice tests and flashcards helps me a lot. I also think that elaborating works as well. Memorizing flashcards is useless unless you know and understand the material, not just the definitions. Applying terms and concepts to real world problems, along with flashcards, helps me remember information and understand it.

    I will use retrieval practice and generation by using a practice test before the training begins. This will get the learners ready to start thinking about the material. I will use intermittent practice by not constantly drilling the information into their heads. I will go over the information, and then half way through review it. I will then have them take a test at the end of the class. I would mix it up but changing between topics to the class stays alert. I would change from using electronic learning and in class learning so the students do not get bored.I would use elaborating by asking the students to relate topics to their lives and tell them real-life stories and examples. At the end of class, I would use reflection but asking the learners what they learned and how they will relate it to their new jobs. I would hand out a reflection sheet where they can write down what they liked about the class and what they think needs to be improved. I would look at the projects and tests and see how they did to use calibration. If there are any terms they need to remember for the job, I would give them retrieval tools or have them come up with their own.

  • Out of all of the 8 practices I believe the best practice that I would use for my own learning would be retrieval practice because I learn best when testing myself and going over flash cards. Incorporating all of the 8 practices would be a challenge but not one that can’t be accomplished. I believe that generation practice could be used before presenting the material have a quiz on what they may think the material means. I would use mix it up, elaborate and generation while teaching the material. I would use retrieval practice and retrieval tools for the study guide. I would then use calibration and reflection for after to receive feedback on everything.

    • That’s interesting! I think that retrieval practice has always been a hit or miss for me. Often times, I’d psych myself out about not having the “right” answer on the back of the flash card and it defeated the purpose for me.

  • In my own learning, I’ve found that intermittent practice and elaboration is most effective. Practicing skills periodically helps retain the knowledge/skill for me. A personal experience is when I worked a part time retail position. I taught during the day and sold jewelry on evenings and weekends. Because I was part time, I wasn’t fully trained on some aspects of the job. However, there would be some opportunities during my shifts where I needed that training. I received brief training but the skill acquired was highly perishable without frequent practice. Once I deliberately started processing these requests throughout time, I was able to perform better. I also know that elaboration is a practice that works best for me, naturally because of my career. I learn better when I have to explain it to someone else. Using something I’m trying to learn to something I already know always makes a personal connection, therefore making the task instantly more interesting and easier to retain.

    In order to incorporate these eight practices, I believe I have to know my audience. I’d need to have a good grasp on my crowd’s personal preferences for these practices and cater instruction to their needs and learning styles. I think I could mix it up, elaborate, and generate. I could reflect, calibrate, and use retrieval tools later in the process and incorporate intermittent practice throughout the delivery.

  • Which of the 8 practices work best for you in your own learning?
    After reading all 8 practices, Retrieval practice works best for me for my own learning. For me, flash cards have always been a way for me to study terms, buildings, pretty much any category. It’s a great way to learn facts at a fast pace. Usually when I study or if I want to retain information, I try to memorize keywords, phrases, and fact. Flashcards and practice tests work well for me.

    How will you incorporate the 8 practices in your training design and delivery?
    In order to incorporate the 8 practices with training design and delivery, one has to understand the type of audience. We all learn differently, so I would want to present all practices within delivery that allows everyone to have a chance in learning materials. It allows me to be playful and flexible with my audience so that I’m not targeting one specific learning style.

  • Which of the 8 practices work best for you in your own learning? Out of the 8 practices,
    I relate my learning style more to that of the Intermittent practice. I believe that I retain information better when I drill it into my head by reading over and over again or occasionally practice or quizzing my self during the learning process. Otherwise, I know that I would forget everything that just finished reading. However, at certain aspects of my learning experience, I can see all applying.

    How will you incorporate the 8 practices in your training design and delivery?
    By integrating lessons from training into everyday work and personal behavior scenarios that apply to each of the practices.

    • I commend you for being able to learn by intermittent practice. I’ve actually tried to study that way for a calculus course I had to take and I seriously panicked once I had to take the exam. I felt that I didn’t retain any methods. I’m not sure why, but maybe it’s because my brain was conditioned to differently with my own study methods.

  • 1. Which of the 8 practices work best for you in your own learning? Thinking about my strengths and the methods I use to process information, I would say that reflection, calibration and retrieval practice work best for me in my learning. Sometimes it can be hard for me to process information, but it’s always helped me to look at information from different angles to grasp a good understanding. There has never been one style of teaching that has worked better for me one way or the other, but looking at the full list again, I would also include “mix it up” as a fourth practice to add my list.

    2. How will you incorporate the 8 practices in your training design and delivery? I would incorporate these 8 practices into my training design and delivery by establishing objectives for my training audience that would allow me to utilize interactive activities and technology to stimulate participants to engage them based on their personal learning style. Participant engagement is very important at the onset of the training. That said, another way that I would incorporate the 8 practices in my design and delivery would be crafting strategic language using IEEI, (Inform, Excite, Empower, Involve) to establish high interest and engagement from the trainees so they would be intrinsically motivated to expand their intellectual muscles during the training.

    • Hi Victoria,
      I like what you mentioned about looking at information from different angles to grasp a better understanding of the information, I think this is important because I often would get really beat down when I would try to grasp a new concept and couldn’t remember it but when you look at it with a fresh set of eyes and a new mindset, it can make a huge difference.

    • Nikki (Tserendorj)

      Hi Victoria, I got the idea from your opinion which are building engagement and attracting the interest of participants. I think, this is highly required soft skills for the trainers.

  • Which of the 8 practices work best for you in your own learning?
    For me one of the 8 practices that works best is the retrieval practice. When I am trying to remember information whether it be for a prevention or for an exam, I would make recipe cards and online flashcards that would have the word on one side and a definition on the other. Depending on the type of questions I would encounter on the exam would help me to determine if the definition was more important or the word was more important to remember. Also, when I would make online flashcards, the words that I struggled the most with would continue to appear and the ones I knew would come up less frequently and I found that made a huge impact on my learning because I was able to put my focus on words that were still foggy to me.
    How will you incorporate the 8 practices in your training design and delivery?
    I would incorporate the 8 practices into my training design and delivery by using different methods of providing information. Such as using flashcards, mnemonic devices, certain queues for people to remember. I think as well that asking participants what they already know regarding the training, what they have learned and how they will apply it to their jobs is a good way to understand the 8 practices and bringing them into play. And of course using case studies, assignments or even self-reflection as a part of the training. Using these methods in the beginning, middle and end of the training and delivery. When designing the training to keep in mind these 8 practices so that I have a large amount of knowledge and resources to pull from to get the participants to be engaged in the information.

  • Which of the 8 practices work best for you in your own learning?
    Retrieval practice, elaborating, and reflection are the practices that work best for me. All throughout my education process, I have especially used the method of retrieval practice to get me through exams. I would always write up flash cards and practice them, eventually weeding out the cards that I felt most comfortable with until I felt I knew the information on every card in my stack. Elaborating I have used, usually unconsciously, because I will be learning about something in class, then read an article about something pertaining to that subject and mention it to someone who is not very knowledgeable in that subject and be forced to further explain information on the topic, outside of just the contents of the article. I have found it a good way to self-test myself in how well I actually know the subject and what areas I should learn more about. Lastly, reflection is something I began using recently. As I have begun working in my field of study, I have started reflecting more on how the subject matter I am learning about will be applied to my every day life in the workplace. I think of scenarios where it might be useful or how it applies to any ongoing projects I may currently have. I find it has been helpful in making me see the value of the information I am learning and continue to learn.

    How will you incorporate the 8 practices in your training design and delivery?
    These 8 practices are good to be implemented into whatever plan you are creating. It might be good to create quizzes that individuals can take prior to the start of a session to recap what they remember from a past session and refresh their memories, as well as after a determined period of time to test their retrieval abilities and how much of this they are actually retaining. I would possibly even determine how each of these practices are incorporated in a “play it by ear” process. I would both wait until sessions have begun to help me read my audience a bit better and see what types of things they respond to best, and I would get as much data beforehand about the participants so I can see what demographics I am working with as I am sure that would play a part in the practices they might feel particularly keen to.

  • Practices which work best for me in my learning are Retrieval practice and Elaboration. According to me, recalling information without supporting materials helps us learn it much more effectively. Another best practice for me is Elaboration which involves explaining and describing ideas with many details. It helps me in making connections among ideas which I try to learn and connecting the material to my own experience, memories and day-to-day life.

    I will incorporate these 8 practices in my training and delivery by doing need analysis of training and getting knowledge about my target audience. I will make sure to assemble a variety of learning styles in developing training programs. During training session, I will ask learners to practice by bringing information to mind without the help of materials. Also, asks learners to go beyond simple recall of information and start making connections within the content. As a trainer, I can apply elaboration strategy by having brief class discussions where these kinds of questions are explored and asking students to work elaboration into their own study plans. I will also switch between different ideas and providing concrete examples to understand abstract ideas while delivering training to leaners. At the end, I will also apply reflection and calibration practices to get the feedback from learners about how much they learn, what went well and what went wrong and what could be improved in future training sessions. To evaluate the training, I could take help of self assessment techniques, assignments and work-based projects.

  • The best learning practice for me would be #4 which is to elaborate. I learn best when I can relate content to what I already know, explain it to someone else, and then relate it back to the real world. This practice is beneficial to my learning because it allows me to use my own knowledge and experiences to better understand the content. In regards to my training design and delivery, I would first create like a survey to better understand what type of audience I will be training. Once I know my audience, I will be able to incorporate the 8 practices. However, an example of me using the 8 practices would be to have my audience do an activity. See what information my audience remembers (#1), when teaching a new lesson, recall information from previous lesson (#2), change the delivery of information (#3), have audience express what they know by using personal/real world examples (#4) etc. etc.

    • Nikki (Tserendorj)

      Hi Wills, I agree with the beneficial of elaboration tool. It works for me too as well. Also, I like the idea conducting survey for understanding about participants first. It might be very fundamental and important step to start training process.
      Thanks, Nikki

  • Nikki (Tserendorj)

    1. I would more likely to value Elaboration practice in my learning process. It has advantages for concluding what I learned, sharing with others by explaining and teaching them and applying to my life in proper ways. For example, last week my friend taught me how to make parallel parking on the left side by one try. Parking on the left side is very tough task for me, I scared so prefer to park on the right side. He showed me and explained the 3 steps, afterwards, I watched a you tube video. I totally understood well that 3 main steps. Following that night, I practiced by myself and it worked out. I was so happy and shared this experience to another friend who has same problem with me. Once I showed her how to park properly, I’m fully practiced and built own skill.
    2. For the learning design and delivery practice, I would like to use generation and reflection tools. Generation method gives opportunity to the participants being more creative thinking- out of box and afterwards self-checking their own knowledge and understanding. Same as this article, at the beginning several questions were asked, it challenged me to think a little bit before jump to the article, afterwards when I read whole article, I compared my answers with final idea of this article. It made corrections and generated new idea. Another tool is reflection, this is beneficial for participants to conclude outlines of the training program, design and apply into real-life and evaluate training process.

  • Which of the 8 practices works best for you in your own learning?
    Retrieval practice is what works best for me. In high school and undergrad I continually used flashcards to study and also used the method of writing it, reading, it and highlighting it which helped store the information in my memory. Elaborating also helps for me. I am a hands on learner and when I can apply the content to my real life experiences it helps me apply it to my everyday life.

    How will you incorporate the 8 practices in your training and delivery?
    I will create tools that can assist with all different types of individuals who may be in my training groups. Everyone learns differently and knowing your audience and what works best for them is important. Assessing the individuals you work with to ensure they are getting the most out of their learning experience is important. I would include quizzes and tests to incorporate individuals new learning to elaborate the retrieval process. I would include refresher/ review sessions each day and after each module to incorporate the intermittent practice. I would mix it up by incorporating how different concepts learned related to each other. I would elaborate by asking learners about their personal stories with the concepts they have learned in the training. I would incorporate case studies in order to apply generation and calibration on the content. I would incorporate reflection by going over what individuals had learned the previous day and provide an evaluation to pass out at the end of the session. I would create acronyms for remembering certain concepts in order to incorporate retrieval tools.

  • 1. Retrieval practice works best for me in my own learning. To prepare for a test I would make flash cards and practice tests. The practice tests were especially helpful when studying for a math or accounting test and flash cards for memorizing information.
    2. To prepare for a training session I would use the 8 practices depending on the topic and audience. In some training I may start with elaboration and ask trainees what they already know about the topic or use generation and have them answer questions. During the training the retrieval practice could break up the material by including a game or quiz to enrich the training. Mix it up is also a good choice to keep the participants engaged. If the trainer talks the whole time and does not involve the class they won’t pay attention and may not learn or benefit from the training.

  • The practice that works best for me is the retrieval practice. I work best when I have a guide to look over and when someone is teaching me something, I try and answer it myself. I like to answer as we go so that I understand what I need to know and how to solve the problem. Doing practice questions will help me remember and understand the problems.

    How will you incorporate the 8 practices in your training design and delivery?

    I will incorporate the 8 practices by trying to figure out what practice is best for the group of people that I am training. I will try and incorporate something different from each practice. From the retrieval practice I will use a quiz or game to help those who better understand that way. For the intermittent practice I will review the quiz so that those can understand how we got the answer. Mix it up practice I will try and get them to engage by adding different concepts into the problems. Elaborate I will ask them to relate to experiences or examples that they knew of before. I want to be able to touch on each practice to make sure everyone has the ability to learn how they need too in order to understand.

  • 1. The practice that works best for me is the intermittent practice. I tend to learn best when I am doing something over and over again, however if I do something over and over only once, then it only sticks in my short term memory. However when I do the practice several different times, it tends to stick with me better and better every time I do it.

    2. In my own training design and delivery, I will incorporate these practices into each lesson plan every day. This can be done through quizzes, hands on activities, feedback from the trainer, and even turning the lesson into a game.

  • Alexandra Edwards

    2. Intermittent practice means that material isn’t drilled over and over again and then forgotten, but reviewed, tested, and practiced periodically during training. In training, you might start each Module with a quick review of what was learned in previous Modules.
    I prefer learning by doing. With my past learning experiences, practicing or implementing what was taught resulted with better results for me. I am able to retain the material & process what is being taught which allows me to make sense of everything and put it into perspective.

  • The practice that works best for me would be mixing it up. I love learning about new concepts and material however, when an instructor goes on a tangent about one specific topic then I start to doze off and lose track of what the instructor is talking about. If the instructor could focus on various topics and give a brief over view, then it will be easier for me to connect the concepts together and stay on track.

    I would incorporate the 8 practices in my training delivery by creating active quiz games, reviewing over material, not just talking about one topic (variety), having discussions about personal experiences, and create practice lessons going over material.

  • Intermittent Practice learning works the best for me when it comes to my own learning. Being tested immediately after a lesson or new material helps me to retain and understand the information better. This method also ensures that learn the information initially without moving further into material still confused or not able to fully understand whats being covered.

    I would incorporate the 8 practices into my training design and delivery by simply having a little of each practice in the training. Having this would ensure that the information is being retained, and will also make people more comfortable with the material knowing that it isn’t just one way of comprehending it. Everyone uses a different learning practice, so having a plethora of them instead of the one that works the best for me is crucial.

  • This is extremely interesting, to first uncover the idea that these are tools that we utilize daily but never associate them as the “defined learning technique” that they are. I personally can relate to number 1 and number . The Retrieval process demonstrates the idea of attempting to memorize and or recall what was taught and learned from previous demonstrations. Utilizing different methods that allow for the recall of ones memory is quite important, whether it be physical, active training situations, test, and or notes. Number 6 Reflection, which essentially is are-cap of what was learned through the training process and to help the learners recall what they digested through the experience. Often times replaying/reliving what they experienced and or were taught helps them to remember what they learned, and how to put it into action. This technique also helps the Learners understand what they gathered and to be able to execute what they have learned, secondly its not until we sometimes hear ourselves “speak-aloud” what we have digested that we are then reassured we have completely comprehended what was taught.

    Incorporating the 8 stages can be predicated upon the material being delivered, understanding the level at which my audience is comprehending and or responsive would determine how in-depth or repetitive my message will be. The 8 tools provided are not strangers to my approach as a Leader, I believe what’s most important is understanding the message in which I am delivering. Being prepared for questions, confusion, providing clarity and being able to apply the message to the life style of whom I am engaging, Retrieval practice, Intermittent practice, Mix it up, Elaborate, Generation, Reflection, Retrieval Tools and Calibration are all crucial to a successful training exercise. From the opening to the closing of a training segment its important to address all 8.

  • 1. Retrieval practice is my style of learning. I tend to have good long term memory, so the more I constantly see/engage within activities the better chance I will recall the information.
    2. I believe all of the practices should/can be incorporated into my training and delivery design. By creating a variety of materials such as individual test, flash card games, polls, etc I can ensure the materials are very diverse.

  • Sandra Sasidharan

    Which of the 8 practices work best for you in your own learning?
    Out of the 8 practices in learning, I feel that I relate with Elaborate, Reflection and Calibration practices the most. Firstly, when it comes to Elaborate practice it is extremely helpful to learn because you are able to relate to what you know already and this helps you to not just communicate the content to others but also be able to apply to your work and life outside of class. I was first introduced to this type of learning in my Organizational Development class this semester and it has been a great experience. It helps me to not just learn the concepts but pushes me to think beyond the theory and think on how it resonates with me, what I experienced while learning, how it relates to what I already know and finally how it relates to my personal and work life. Reflection is another key practice that I feel has helped me in the past when it comes to training sessions for work where I have been asked how the newly acquired information will be used in the future. I strongly believe that it is a very effective practice because I was able to give my feedback on what worked for me and what did not and how training can be conducted better. Last but not least, Calibration, a practice that has been of great help for me in classes where we get to apply theories into different case studies and projects. This not only helps me to learn on the subject matter better but helps me think outside the box and see how it is applicable in future work scenarios. It also has helped me thus far in learning on how other corporations have been applying many of the concepts in the business world! I think it would be a great practice that I would like to see more companies use at the workplace as it will help the employees understand and apply their work skillsets better on their jobs!

    How will you incorporate the 8 practices in your training design and delivery?
    All of the 8 practices would be very effective, in my opinion, but it would really depend on my target audience (the trainees). It is important for me to have an understanding of who I am training and a general consensus on what their capabilities and aptitudes are when it comes to learning new information. However, in general, I would use a mix of various practices when it comes to training people. Some of the practices that I would really like to include would be the mix it up, elaboration, reflection and calibration practices. Mix it up would be a practice that I would like to introduce to some extent because it would challenge learners to stay alert, stay engaged and push them to also differentiate between concepts. Elaboration practice would be great as well as it would encourage the trainees to better communicate the content to others based on what they relate to and this, in turn, can help them better apply it to work. Reflection would be essential, in my opinion, because it would push them to think how to best apply what they learned in the future. Lastly, calibration would be great during training as it would help them apply the theory in various case studies, scenarios, and projects and that way it would be embedded in their minds for longer periods of time. Before I implement the others, I really would need to learn more about my trainees and see what would work best for them and what wouldn’t.

  • This is a great article especially in terms of understanding the ways in which people learn the best. It is really important to understand various ways in which people will be able to store the information into their minds for a longer period of time.

    1. Which of the 8 practices work best for you in your own learning?
    I feel that I can relate to Intermittent Practice, Elaborate, Reflection, and Calibration from the eight practices in my personal learning. Firstly, talking about Intermittent Practice, this practice has always helped me in recalling whatever was studied in the previous sessions. I think this is very crucial because it helped me in linking what I studied in the previous class with what I will be learning in the present class and how are they related to each other. This practice always gave me a flashback about the previous sessions and I was able to understand the further topics clearly.
    Secondly, Elaborate practice has also been of great help to me. The topics that will be thought in the class will be more interesting to study if an individual will be able to relate it with his/her personal experience, or the ways he/she will be able to apply them on their jobs. From a trainer’s perspective also this practice plays a significant role. It helps the trainer in understanding the knowledge level of the individuals about the topics that he will be teaching in the session. I can relate this learning practice to the first week of the Training and Development course where we were asked to talk about our background, experience in the field of Training and Development and how will the course help us in our career. It not only helped me in learning new topics but also helped me in recalling what I already know and share that information with others (knowledge sharing).
    Thirdly, Reflection practice is something that I can relate to very well and I personally like this practice a lot. I experienced this practice for the first time in my “Instructional Design” and “Train The Trainer” course when the instructor asked us about the information that we recall towards the end of the training session. Since a majority of the participants were working, we were asked about how will we be able to use the knowledge and skills acquired through the training session on our jobs or in our future career, and how could the training be more improved. I personally liked it because it helped me in providing constructive feedback to the trainer and discuss about what really went well for me in terms of learning and practical application.
    Finally, Calibration practice has also been helpful most of the times especially in degree education. The case studies and projects have helped me in understanding the theories in an efficient manner by applying these concepts to the case study scenarios and finding a solution to the problems. This was especially beneficial in the Labor relations class where we were thought different labor and management laws. We were then asked to apply those laws to the case studies to come up with the best solutions. So Calibration practice has been of great help to me.

    2. How will you incorporate the 8 practices in your training design and delivery?
    I believe that all the eight learning practices play a vital role in the learning and development of an individual. I also believe that it highly depends on the learning style of the target audience. From a trainer’s point of view, it is really important to understand: How will the audience learn the best way before designing and delivering a training program. In my personal opinion, before designing and delivering a program, it will be important for me to understand my target audience in terms of the existing knowledge, skills and abilities and understanding their reaction to new learning. I would like to use a combination of different learning practices during a training session.
    For example, using a combination of Elaborate practice, Intermittent practice, Calibration practice and then Reflection practice. When I think of these four combinations, I would think of starting a program (Let’s say three-day course) with Elaborate practice. This would help me in understanding the background of the audience, analyzing how much information do they already possess and how will the course be beneficial to them on their jobs. The audience will be able to know the experience of others in the room and also understand the expectation each individual has from the program. I think this will be a good start. Intermittent practice will help me in understanding how much information does the trainees retain from the previous session. It will also help in keeping the trainees alert in the class and recall information. Calibration practice will help them in team building, working with different people, brainstorming and thinking out of the box to apply the learned theories into case scenarios and practical application. Reflection practice will also be a best practice according to me. It will let the trainees think about the best things they learned from the course which will be of great help to them on their jobs or in their career ahead and how could the program be made more efficient and how it could be improved. Similarly, a variety of combinations can be used in designing and delivering a training program based on accessing the target audiences and understanding what practices would work best for their successful learning.

  • The practice I believe works best for me is Elaborate because I find it helpful to learn something and be able to relate it something I know or inform others about it. By doing this, I can recall all that I have learned the information seems to “stick” more. Also, by relating the information to something I know, if I think of something that is already in my memory then I can recall the new information since it is attached to something I already know. I plan to incorporate the 8 practices by first learning about my target audience and how they best learn. By doing this, I can attach the 8 practices to my training techniques. For example, if I identify an employee learns better by elaborating on a topic as opposed to retrieval practice, I would have the employees break into small groups and review the information covered during training. With so many learning practices, it’s best to evaluate the audience’s learning patterns and what works best for them for me to know how to best train them.

  • 1. The approaches described here that I’ve found most effective for me are calibration, generation, and retrieval practice. I find that I often need to use calibration in completing virtually any course-related project, as well as outside projects/interactions that require my application of a skill, such as recalling factual information or using a foreign language. It seems easier to me to use a skill when the number of contexts in which it’s needed is varied. Generation, similarly, is something that I need to use in problem-solving exercises, which I find more engaging and informative (as well as just more enjoyable) than rote memorization. Generation provides a sort of venue/environment in which to use the knowledge being tested and to apply it in new ways that help to keep it fresh in my mind. Retrieval practice often comes in the form of having to answer content-related questions in conversation or in formal discussion related to a group project. Having to recall information in this impromptu fashion leads me to re-examine how much I’m able to remember and convey this information accurately in this environment.

    2. In my delivery and design of training, I would place the most stress on finding different opportunities for members of my team to apply what they are learning to broaden their exposure to the topics of training and also resolve the matter of how to approach this content from multiple angles. I would likely test their initial knowledge of the concepts via retrieval and reflection exercises, because of the straight-forward nature of these, then move trainees toward the more complex types of recall tests, which would require them to elaborate, calibrate, and mix up what they’d learn. This approach, in my mind, would equip them with a foundational knowledge of the material and then allow them to build on this knowledge and by applying it more broadly. In following this sequence, participants would develop their knowledge of the concepts from a surface-level to a more intimate understanding, while also learning the different functions served by each of the concepts taught as they put them into practice.

    • Andrew,

      I agree with you, about answering content related questions in conversation or in formal discussion, it does force you to recall what you know. Many times I am surprised at how educated I may be on the topic when put on the spot because sometimes when I am studying different things I may feel like I am not grasping the concept.

  • 1. Intermittent Practice works best for me. Unfortunately, I am not that person that can read something once, grasp the concept, test and get a perfect letter grade. It is imperative that I read, take notes, test myself, and make scenarios up in my head then repeat the process over and over. I retain knowledge better when I view it as many ways as I can possibly think of.

    2. How would you incorporate the 8 practices in your training design and delivery?

    I would incorporate all 8 of the practices into my training design and delivery because everyone learns differently. The goal is to make it as simple as possible for everyone. So I would open by recalling what they already know (retrieval). Then I would test it after a quick review and practice (Intermittent). I would then offer different concepts so that it is understood that it is always best to cover more than one idea (mix it up). To make sure it is completely understood, I would ask them to explain it to each other (elaborate). I would then give a brief case study because it would require them to call on their memory (generation). Next I would ask them to combine what they learned with what they already knew ( Reflection). Then we would check knowledge with assignments and tests or case studies (Calibration). Finally we would end it with a hard copy of everything we have learned because sometimes people just need to see things written down and its easier for them to recall (Retrieval).

  • I think I learn best with intermittent practice and elaboration. For example if I am introduced to something I can learn it superficially. The more I am forced to use that knowledge the deeper it becomes ingrained. Then when I am forced to use it in a context that isn’t exactly the way I learned it, but can recall it and adapt it to what I am facing now I feel more competent. For example if I can change the oil on my car that is good. If I had to change the oil on a bunch of different cars over a period of time that is even better.

    I can use these in training to help people learn better. Knowing that people learn differently I can incorporate different activities in my training that will help each learner to make the knowledge stick. Retrieval practice, intermittent practice, and calibration all seem to be good ways to mix it up and make it stick.

  • I personally learn best with Intermittent Practice. I need to practice and apply the material I learn in order to be successful. I remember studying for my PHR I tried drilling material over and over without really understanding and applying the content. Needless to say the result of that did not work in my favor for the actual test. I really found this article interesting because I would’ve thought when the subject at hand is easy it would be easy to learn but the way it’s explained in the article makes total sense. I would incorporate the 8 practices by figuring out how employees learn best. That way they are set up to be successful in learning versus them being put in a training class where they can’t grasp the information because it’s not presented in a way for them to retain the information.

  • I enjoyed reading about the myths of learning. I remember being in middle school and playing in the orchestra, I played the violin. My music instructor would always tell us, practice makes permanent, not perfect. She would encourage us to practice playing the correct rather than the way we think it goes. That always stuck with me so reading that practicing something over and over again is not how we learn.

    I think the practices that work for me would be retrieval practice and mix it up. I used to use flashcards in undergrad and it worked really well. I also think learning things in different ways works really well because it gives my mind a chance to change gears.

    I think I would mix all the practices up. I think what works for one person may not work for everyone. However, out of all the practices elaborating is the one that might be the most useful for everyone.

  • Which of the 8 practices work best for you in your own learning?
    The Generation practice is how I learn best in a training situation. This method allows me to learn by trial and error. I can provide answers based on what I think I know or what I think makes sense. Once given the answers through the learning process, I can easily focus in only on the errors and make the connection – I can immediately see the relation.

    How will you incorporate the 8 practices in your training design and delivery?
    To address individual learning styles I would mix all 8 practices in my training design and delivery. Prior to starting the presentation, I would have the participants complete a pretest or quiz they would use to self check their answers through the course of the presentation, then collect the pretest results before giving a post activity (Generation and Retrieval). I would also consider having them share current knowledge or experience on the subject, or discuss challenges with their current practices – all in an effort to draw out the experiential learning aspect.
    The presentation would be peppered with retrieval tools such as mnemonics (Retrieval tools) and broken out by modules or sections, possibly over a couple of days to ease learning. Each module would build on the previous and making a point to show those connections in a quick review upon starting a new module (Intermittent).
    Each section, comprised of modules, would have a quick exercise requiring the learners to recall and include information from the previous modules (Mix it up).
    Upon completing the final section, I would have the audience review a case study and have each group explain their answers to one another before offering up a group response (Calibration) allowing the other groups to give feedback.
    Finally, I would incorporate a final exercise to review the training objectives, in their groups, and describe what they learned from the lesson and how their new knowledge will enhance or improve their current method (Elaborate). Prior to leaving the presentation I would have the learners complete a survey with a summary section to give feedback or describe their likes/dislikes (Reflection).

  • Elaboration works well for me. When the teacher or trainer asks me questions about the topic then I am more alert and focused and I can absorb more because I know that the trainer or teacher will ask questions. If I explain a concept to someone I think the concept becomes engraved in my brain too. Elaboration has really helped me in learning.

    I think all the concepts are important while designing and delivering training. Everybody learns differently, so we need to incorporate each practice while designing and delivering training. For example: We can use Retrieval practice before even beginning the training just to know the understanding of topic of each participant. Reflection can be used to measure the level of understanding and satisfaction after the training has been delivered. Calibration can be used for measuring the understanding by giving tests and solving case studies. Retrieval tools are a great way to make training work in the long run by providing course material handouts, it really helps participants to retrieve the information whenever they need it.

  • After reviewing all of the practices I learn best by generation practice. Since I was a kid I always learned best by trail and error trying to learn things on my own before someone help me. I get to learn from my mistakes and brainstorm creative solutions to problems. For instance, at my current internship I try to guess what is needed and then I act before I ask my human resource manager. She admires that I take initiative and I don’t need to be monitored closely. As far as the training other from these practices it depends on the company and environment. Depending on the position, company, and culture of the organization will determine which practice I will use. For example, developing a training session for a retirement center will be different from a training plan at a warehouse. This will be a need for two different practices. As a result I will use all of these practices because all of them will be necessary depending on the company and environment.

  • Great article, I specifically enjoyed going over the eight practices that strongly correlate with how people learn.

    The practices that I can best relate to are reflection, elaborate, and calibration. When it comes to reflection – I can relate to this on a daily basis. I do reflect on both personal and professional experiences and this specifically helps me grow from what I have learned. When it comes to training, I have had experience with post-training feedback forms that I was able to provide my reflection to demonstrate my learning and assess the effectiveness of the training program. This is crucial information that drives improvement to the training program and increases its effectiveness for future learners. Elaboration is a key practice and is crucial to learn because I can relate to content that I already know and relate that content to experiences outside the session. All my classes are great examples of the elaboration practice because I can relate to what I already learned to what I have to practice. This practice also motivates me to further understand how to think beyond the box and helps me improve my personal and professional skills. Apart from elaborate and reflection practices, I strongly feel that calibration is a prominent part of expressing what I learned. Case studies are great methods for testing knowledge in the form of objective feedback. For example, as students, we have case analyses that test our knowledge and learning and encourage us to apply and present what we have learned.

    I strongly feel that all the eight practices would be effective when incorporated in training design and delivery. However, few determinants affect the outcomes of these practices. Firstly, I would consider the target audience – it is important to learn about having a general consensus of the target audience/ population. Mix it up would be a practical practice to motivate the learners to stay engaged in the learning and help them be prepared for new challenges. Calibration would be great to apply learning to case studies and scenario-based challenges. Elaborate would encourage the trainees to improve the relativity to the content and to practical experiences. Reflection would encourage learners to apply their learning to experiences outside their training.

  • Great article! I prefer the mix it up practice. Alternating content helps me to stay engaged and keeps me motivated to retain the information. I feel that my learning experience is much more effective when using the mix it up approach. Although, I have been a learner for all of my life I can find difficulty in retaining information with some of the more traditional practices. The innovative practices help me to relate and retain information better.

  • The 8 practices are a good reminder that we can’t punish ourselves into learning. Training takes time and care. As kids often play as a way to grow and learn, we have to continue this. Trying, resting, and trying again in a new and exciting way can lead to the ability being available in a work environment that is not always predictable. Building lessons that require previous topics can enrich and build the knowledge base. The intermittent practice helps vary the retrieval method to really drive home the concept. That is my favorite practice of them all.

  • I have found that practice and reflection helps me study and learn. But I really like the idea of generation through role play and calibration to gauge knowledge. I will be adding these elements to my instructional design toolkit.

  • #3 Mixing It Up is perfect for retaining information. One of the components of utilizing neuroscience in instructional design is to mix up the content and make it bite sized. Making content bite sized and varied allows the learner to retain more information because the brain stays engaged and curious.

  • In today’s current learning climate, with thousands of schools out of the classroom and transitioned to e-learning I can only imagine the holes those students learning currently has. Information as presented in this post would greatly help those trying to quickly convert their classrooms into the digital formats. Hopefully schools around the world take back what they’re learning from today’s struggles in order to better e-learning as a whole and increase their students retention once back in the classroom.

  • I personally prefer the mix it up method because in different subjects I found that not applying the same method works best for me. I will incorporate the 8 practices in my training delivery by utilizing a variety of tools and assessments to ensure all learners are reached. I do believe that works best for one person you may not get the same results from someone else. Hence, applying different techniques will ensure all learners are reached.

  • Actually two of the 8 practices that work best for my own learning style are the Elaboration and Reflection practices. I selected these two because they really go hand and hand for me. I learn best by applying what I already know and linking it with new information and real-world situations. I can better recall and share that information as it relates to my life and that leads me to reflect on what I have learned. I will incorporate most of the 8 practices in my training design to meet the needs of how different people learn, retain, and reflect information differently.

  • Practicing a skill over and over leads to successful performance.

    I completely agree with #3! However, it depends on the specific type of practice that allows the learner to successfully perform the skill. Some people prefer physical practice and face-to-face. Some are old school and prefer reading and observing lectures with a spokesperson. I can say for me, demonstration is the dominant way for me to practice. Roleplaying and altering a specific environment to allow adaptability!

  • Knovva Academy imparts leadership skills to students and empowers them through Experiential Learning.

  • Interesting blog. Intermittent practice and elaborate and 3 of the practices that work best for me. I have a tendency to forget things over time so by having something elaborated on so I can relate it to a real-life experience helps me to remember. Then intermittent practice will help by bringing the information up again to refresh my memory.
    Depending on the audience, content and length of training I would could use a combination of any of these 8 practices. I probably use the practices that I find most useful for myself. I know I would also need to incorporate other practices as well as everyone learns differently.

  • I like Intermittent practice the best out of the 8 practices provided. I do think there should be a point where the practice is demonstrated in the actual environment after the learning has been completed though as well. I already incorporate most of these practices in the training content I currently create, so I can improve my training by using some of the practices that I feel I lack in.

  • For my work, we struggle with our new Learners because they are literally handed all of the tools to succeed and they still struggle. We have implemented measures to increase retention, and some Learners are picking up on everything, while others couldn’t pur water out of a boot with instructions on the heel. Any advice or resources would be greatly appreciated.

  • This is a great list! I like to incorporate exercises that allow participants to elaborate. I think it gets everyone critically thinking about the ideas and helps them build connections to their everyday experiences. Also, one of the best ways of really cementing knowledge is to teach/explain it to someone else (a variation of “putting something in your own words”). It is a step that requires not only the memorization of information but also the processing of that information. Finally, I think it allows participants to take control of their learning.

  • Reflection is one of my favorite approaches to remembering what is learned during training. It gives space for learners to share their experiences while thinking about how to use them in the future.

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