The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

If You’ve Looked at It Once, You’ve Seen It a Thousand Times!

flashcards1We’ve all been there, you are teaching a new employee your systems, and something gets lost in translation. You have a team member studying for HR certification (or you’re studying!) and they are a top HR professional but keep getting hung up on the questions. The bottom line is if you don’t have the right working vocabulary of the concepts, success will continue to elude you. Well, it’s not just you – the issue many people have remembering key concepts is firmly rooted in brain science.

Our brains are filled with information we need today. Everything from how to do our job, where our kids need to be, when the milk is going to expire in the refrigerator – all sorts of immediate situations. Sometimes the thought of absorbing information is overwhelming. As the study of adult learning tells us, we have to be involved in new information, and it has to have an immediate impact on our world to really be able to retain information at a deep level.

At the same time, we are learning new things all the time. It just takes work. Science tells us there are a number of techniques that we can use to enhance the retention of critical information. Whether your goal is to advance in your career, study for a certification, or just participate at a leadership level, you’ve got to know the “lingo” that is being used. To gain credibility with leaders, speaking the speak is just as important as walking the walk. Yet who has time to sit and study words and concepts that may not be part of your everyday routine?

There are two important concepts found in scholarship that are directly applicable to building skill in the area of retention. Both can be easy to incorporate into your routine by using technology as a tool. Spacing and Metacognitive faculties both work to engage learners and provide immediate reward and critical thinking skills to ensure long term success. Flashcards are a fun and proven technique to ensure mastery.

The Spacing Effect is a robust concept proven in countless studies to show an excellent technique to learning. Studies state that having learning events separated over time will enhance the retention of the information. By learning pieces and then going back at a later date, you are teaching your brain to retrieve knowledge as needed.

Metacognitive Faculties are discussed in an article about the value of using flashcards in learning. The concept of Metacognitive Faculties is a system of learning where self reflection and deep thought is required by the student. The process engages their metacognitive faculties as students ask themselves how the information compares with their thought or prior knowledge. By using flashcards, the student is forced to think about an answer, read the correct answer and then process how their thought compares with what they knew to be true. A study at a major university showed a significant improvement in test scores when their students used flashcards in learning.

In Human Resources, we can utilize both types of learning as an effective technique with entry level team members, specialists who would like to move into generalist roles and those studying for the various Human Resources certification exams. Traditional methods of reading books, attend classes and on the job training are great, but still not always successful. One tool that has just been released for the HR community is HR Cards. It is an app to help HR professionals work on vocabulary and common concepts using both spacing and metacognitive faculties. Using the basis of science, the app flips through over 1,000 key HR terms to help those studying for an exam, or looking to advance in the field retain the information they need.

Whether for yourself or your team, consider spacing and the use of metacognitive faculties to be effective tools in the training and development of HR professionals. For those of you in learning and development, there are also effective tools to bring into program design for the long term impact of your programs.

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