Memory Decay, Social Behavior And Motivation

 1. Memory Decay

When we learn something new, a neurochemical pathway is created. Over time, the pathway slowly disintegrates unless active rehearsing, testing and general recall are practised. The first documented use of "Decay theory" was in 1914 by Edward Thorndike and based off early memory work by Hermann Ebbinghaus in the late 19th Century(1).

 2. Social Behaviour

"A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention" (Herbert Simon, 1977). Since 2000, our attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to 8 seconds(2). In fact, as employees opt for more screen-based activities, their attention span becomes shorter. Screen technology causes our brains to change the way we learn and adapt to the environment. Our malleable brains are "substantially shaped by what we do to them and by the experience of daily life."(3)

Technology tends to actively interfere with our attention. Smartphones, email, and social media generate continuous interruptions throughout our day. When content is greater than 10 minutes long a user will likely be interrupted before they finish.

Videos have become a preferred way to consume content.  With the increased availability of creation tools, they are replacing text and slide decks.  What is yet to catch up is the production skills needed for this newer media.  Pace, screen movement and image quality are just a few considerations that impact effectiveness.

smart city and wireless communication network

 3. Motivation

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. When a task is completed out of sheer personal desire, that's intrinsic motivation. When a task is completed only for a reward, that's extrinsic motivation.

Motivation techniques are most effective when they include: personal growth opportunities, autonomy, authority, experienced-based perks and Recognition(5). Learners engage much more enthusiastically when we appeal to their intrinsic motivation.

When it comes to corporate training, a high percentage (~70%) of the knowledge transfer is tactical:  New procedures, systems or technology. However, tactical knowledge has a greater impact on the company than the employee personally. This means important learning is the least appealing to employees.  Incorporating strategies that engage employees are essential for tactical learning.

Intrinsic Motivation vs. Extrinsic Motivation