Not only does science show us that learning happens more effectively through practice, or ‘doing’, but it’s been an effective component in learning for thousands of years. There are many reasons for this but two stand out and make sense to anyone in the world of workplace learning and talent development.
Keeping Up Energy Levels
One is the fatigue factor. When learners are stationery, sitting still in their chairs or at their desks in a classroom, simply listening to someone speak or talk through a slide deck, they become tired and very often tune out.
But when you get people up and moving around, they become more focused. It sends oxygen to their brains and they become more alert.
Getting people to do something practical around the topic, as opposed to getting them to listen about it will make learning more engaging.
Another is that doing is usually about practice. When you lead learners to do something practical – whether it’s discussing a topic, doing some trial and error or performing a psychomotor skill – they are actually practicing it.
Practice, in particular deliberate practice, is key to learning, as we discuss in our train the trainer workshops. We’re exploring deliberate practice with our posts next week, and linking to additional resources for doing it in the workplace training room.
Practicing is a form of what learning psychologists call retrieval. They’re pulling information in and out of the working and long term memory stores.
Retrieval is the key to building long term memories whether those memories are declarative or procedural knowledge. That is, something something we know or something we do.