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What is Learning Retention?

What is Learning Retention?

Posted on 01/19/21 By Guest Contributor

Whether you’re studying for a certification or taking part in professional development, the main objective is to learn and retain the new information. This can often be challenging, however, and you may find you struggle to recall something you only studied yesterday. 

Learning retention is about making new information stick and finding effective ways to do this. With a few tips and tricks, you can boost your memory and make sure you learn and retain the new information you’re receiving.

In this post, we'll answer the question "what is learning retention?" and show you how you can achieve it.

What is Learning Retention?

Learning retention is the process of transferring new information into long-term memory. This means you’ve effectively taken in the information and are able to recall it in the future.

Without retaining what you’ve learned, it will leave your short-term memory after a certain amount of time has passed.

In order to improve your learning retention, it’s necessary to find new strategies and solutions to ensure you engage with the material. This will help your brain identify this new information as important.

9 Tips to Improve Learning Retention

There are many outside factors that can affect your level of learning retention. Managing your career and supplemental studies can be a challenge as your brain will be dealing with a great deal of information.

Family and home commitments can also add extra pressure and stress, and you may not have enough study time or the environment you need. This makes it more important than ever to learn to retain new information effectively.

Here are a few tips on how to engage your brain and improve your learning retention:

1. Break down information into bite-sized chunks

Trying to take in too much information at once isn’t always advisable. Instead, break down your objectives into more manageable bite-sized chunks. This theory also applies to the time you spend studying.

Most people can only concentrate for a certain amount of time without a break. Within a short space of time, your memory skills will begin to worsen and you’ll experience inevitable fatigue. Organize your learning into more manageable tasks and take regular breaks.

2. Group items into categories

Psychological studies have shown that grouping items into categories can improve your ability to retain information. By making connections and associations, you can group details into larger chunks which are easier to retain.

You can incorporate this technique into your study habits. It’s particularly useful for remembering lists of names or numbers. If you’re attempting to memorize facts and figures, try organizing them into chunks.

The way you choose to do this depends on the subject matter, but the important thing is to look for connections. 

3. Test yourself

There’s a reason why you had to take so many tests during your K-12 education. Getting tested on new information can help you retain it and enables you to monitor your progress.

There are many theories on how to improve your testing skills, which often depend on your preferred method of study.

For example, you could try reading or watching a course before bed and then testing yourself in the morning. You might find you’ve managed to retain the information overnight.

4. Learn from mistakes

One of the reasons testing is effective is that it allows us to make mistakes. This is vital for learning retention.

Studies have shown that we not only pay attention to our mistakes, making the event memorable, but they also affect our neural mechanisms. When we make mistakes synapses fire, which are the same electrical signals that move across the brain when learning occurs.

Whether you make an error when self-testing or when applying your new knowledge, making a mistake is an opportunity to learn and improve. Part of learning something new is to understand that success and failure often go hand in hand.

5. Active engagement

There are many learning benefits of being actively engaged. If you participate with your course and you will be more likely to retain the information.

Attending live webinars makes it easy to interact because you can actively engage with Q&As with the course instructor. 

There are also different tactics you can use to engage with material during private study. These include reviewing and summarizing topics and then ensuring you apply the skill or knowledge to your work. 

6. Review and summarize topics

Summarizing topics is an excellent way to engage with the material. Write an overview of the topic in your own words, highlight important points, and use these notes for revision as well.

When you’re reading or watching something make your own notes in the form of bullet points. You could also try adapting your ideas to work or real-life scenarios.

It’s essential to use different strategies that encourage critical thinking

7. Learn by teaching others

Another way to improve learning retention by engaging with the material is by teaching others. This could involve helping one of your peers study the same subject or simply explaining what you’ve been learning to a friend or family member.

Teaching is one of the best ways to learn new information. By engaging with the material enough to explain it clearly to be understood by somebody else, you’ll reinforce your own learning.

Taking part in online discussions is also useful, you are interacting with the material in new and creative ways enabling you to retain more information.

8. Mindfulness meditation

As well as studying, certain other activities can help boost your memory power as part of a healthy lifestyle. If you focus on improving your overall wellbeing, you might develop a more positive approach to learning.

Meditation can be very beneficial. There have been studies about how mindfulness changes your brain. It’s more than a relaxation technique and can actually improve your concentration.

Mindful meditation teaches you to clear your mind of cluttering thoughts and focus on what’s important. Studying can be stressful and meditation will also help you maintain a feeling of inner calm. You’ll be more equipped to tackle certain challenges.

9. Get plenty of sleep & exercise

If you’re want to learn and retain information, it doesn’t help if you’re feeling fatigued and lethargic. It’s essential to enhance your wellness and manage stress in order to maintain a balanced lifestyle. 

Ensure you also follow a healthy sleep routine and take care of yourself. This way you can avoid burnout and bring more energy to your studies.

Different Methods for Learning Retention

There are different methods for improving learning retention. Psychologists and educators have attempted to define solutions and strategies to allow learners to successfully retain new information.

Here are examples of two powerful learning methods: the 50/50 learning rule and spaced repetition. The two methods complement each other and can be used simultaneously.

The 50/50 Learning Rule

The theory behind the 50/50 rule is to retain the information you should learn for half the time and share what you’ve learned for the other half.

This means committing 50% of your time to explaining, summarizing, or teaching the information. You’ll need to engage with the material enough to explain in a way that others will understand the context. This is why teaching helps you retain information.

In order to put this into practice you could try studying material, such as an online course, summarizing the points and sharing them with a colleague. This will force you to think and result in better learning retention.

Spaced Repetition

Whereas engaging with the material is crucial for learning retention, repetition is also important. Spaced repetition is based on the idea that if you repeat an intake of the information over a period of time, you’re more likely to remember it.

Our brains learn better when we space out information. It’s more effective than trying to retain mass amounts of information together. This allows time for the neural connection to solidify and prevents new information from taking the place of old information.

Repetition is, therefore, important for learning. When learning new information, you could try to go over the same relevant points on a daily basis until you remember them.


In summary, what is learning retention?

Learning retention is the ability to store new information in your long-term memory and recall it at a later date. This is very important when studying a course or taking part in professional development training.

The key takeaways are that to learn something new you need to engage with the material, break it down into chunks, and use repetition techniques.

Every learner is different, but if you follow these steps you could improve your ability to retain new information.




About the Author

Alisha Haqie is a writer for AAM Consultants, a digital marketing company based in Lahore, Pakistan, with an office in Willenhall, U.K. She enjoys writing different topics about eLearning and digital marketing.


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