forgetting curve - ebbinghaus

How to Avoid Forgetting New Knowledge 

With time, we lose information. We forget. Forgetting does not mean failure. It is a natural process. The reason: our brain wants to make space for new, valuable knowledge. However, as our helpful brain sorts out information that we no longer need, it also wipes out useful information. Not seldom stuff that we would like to be able to remember.

Already at the end of the 19th century scientist Hemming Ebbinghaus noticed that people tended to forget new information relatively quickly. The speed of forgetting depends, according to Ebbinghaus, of a number of various factors – sleep, stress, relevance, difficulty of learning material and so on.


A learning curve – and the forgetting curve

As a part of his studies, he drew up two curves that he is famous for; the learning curve and the forgetting curve. The latter shows and explains how we lose information over time – when and if we don’t try to retain it.

To avoid us forgetting, we must review learned material.

There are various ways of doing this. And, there are various tricks on how to make learning stick. The stronger the memory and the experience related to the information, the longer we remember things.

Reinforcing learning

If one wants to reinforce people’s learning and deepen understanding – and help people avoid forgetting – , these factors are key: involving people so that they become active (active involvement), providing people with instant feedback and rewards and, finally, including the so called WIIFM – “What is in it for me”– factor. People need to understand what the new information has to do with them. “How will this affect my daily work? What does it mean to me?” If people see the point, they are more likely to remember. For a learning designer, the WIIFM-factor means taking the learner’s perspective seriously.

Focus on the experience

At Celemi, we focus on the experience. Helping people involve hands, minds and heart when learning, make them remember their learning experience for a long, long time.

Also, to prolong the learning journey towards new knowledge and new behaviors, we help participants get involved in and engage in activities before the main key experience (a serious game, dialog program or a simulation) as well as after.

Contact us today for a presentation of how learning can be inspired, acquired and reinforced.