How long does it take the average human brain to consolidate a memory?
a.) 6 months
b.) 1 year
c.) 2 years
d.) 10 years
According to Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist with a specialty in memory, it can take ten years before a memory finds its final resting place in the brain and is fully consolidated. Along the way, all types of things can interfere with the memory, changing it and even causing it to morph into something totally different than the original.
Now picture your next class of adult learners or audience members. They are seated at tables, surrounded by colleagues, with a dozen “to dos” going through their minds. They may be sincerely interested and highly motivated to hear what you have to say – or not. They may be tired, multi-tasking, or experiencing cognitive overload. Yet it is your goal to have them remember your message. What can you do to reduce the morph factor? How can you make sure the learning has long-term value?
Thankfully, Medina’s research also tells us that information that is repeated within 30 seconds moves from immediate memory into working memory. He recommends that the first repetition use the same form as the original, but that subsequent repetitions are best if they utilize a different sensory form. Examples might include asking your participants to take notes, illustrate, discuss or summarize. These types of interactive repetitions help to solidify the memory more quickly than passive listening. Meaningful repetitions can decrease the interference that may try to morph the memory at a later point.
For more ideas on how to increase learner participation and retention, check out my blog at www.caffeinatedlearning.com
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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