In In our report, 3 Keys to Effective Use of Online Safety Training Content, we looked at the reasons behind low employee engagement during safety training; the consequences of low engagement, including lower levels of content retention and an increase in incidents and injuries; and how online training (eLearning) content can be used to boost engagement.

In this report, we’re going to take it a step further and look at the SCIENCE behind forgetting and retention as explained by the Forgetting Curve. Then, we will discuss how to beat the curve, and how spaced repetition is leading the Retention Revolution to increase learner retention and decrease forgetting.

The Problem

Why should you be concerned about learner retention? Employees know safety is important. So why do you have to constantly remind them of safety procedures? It can’t always be chalked up to poor attention during safety training.

In fact, most of the time what’s happening is the employee’s memory is being so overwhelmed that their brains aren’t holding on to the information you’re giving or have given. In the simplest of terms, employees are forgetting to be safe.

The human memory is fickle. We can all recite the lyrics to “YMCA” verbatim, but if I asked you to describe a logarithm right now my bet is I’d hear crickets. Simply put, when our brain gets overwhelmed it reacts by dumping new information out (and for many people, math was an overwhelming class). At its core, it’s a survival mechanism. If we tried to remember every piece of information we heard during the day, our brains would constantly be so active that we wouldn’t be able to sleep or perform basic survival functions.

But the ability to remember the lyrics to YMCA and NOT the steps to a critical safety procedure can have tragically different outcomes.

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