Forgetting Curve

How to Offset Forgetting Curve?

Understand the Forgetting Curve and How to Flatten it

According to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, if learning isn’t adequately reinforced, students forget 90% of what they’ve learned within the first week. According to this curve, unless the learning content is regularly revisited, humans lose their ability to recall previously taught concepts and ideas exponentially over a few days or weeks.

Therefore, organizations should use a thorough strategy when designing a training program that provides chances for learning reinforcement to enable employees to be better in their job roles and improve their work performance. Let’s study the forgetting curve to see how L&D professionals can better plan their strategies and methods for knowledge retention among employees.

Forgetting Curve Fig

What is Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve?

The forgetting curve, as theorized by psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, states that people start to forget the memory of learnt knowledge in a matter of a few days, unless the knowledge is consciously reviewed time and again. Most employees forget 90% of the learnings from a training program within 7 days.

The curve shows that the information is lost completely if there is no attempt to retain it within the first few days. Here comes the roles of the Learning and Development (L&D) Department to emphasize the significance of learning reinforcement among employees.

How to tackle the Forgetting curve through Learning Reinforcement?

Through learning reinforcements, we can make sure that people remember information for a long time. Learning is not a one-time occurrence, instead, multiple learning activities are used in a blended learning program to reinforce important ideas and concepts.

Activities that precede and succeed the main course of a training program serve as a means of reinforcing learning. These activities may include:

Forgetting Curve

Employees who receive learning reinforcements learn how to consistently apply their new knowledge to their roles, meet learning objectives, and retain information for extended periods.

How to double the impact of training initiatives without increasing your L&D budget?

Any training is only as effective as the memory of the trainee in question. No matter how much good quality content is spoon-fed, if the employees cannot use it in their day-to-day job activities, then the learning serves very little value. So, the key here is to ‘knowledge retention’!

The best way to promote knowledge retention is via Spaced Learning. Spaced learning has several benefits and straightforward methods for online training. Let’s see how to implement it.

  • Ideal Spacing structure in eLearning

    Spaced learning is a method of improving knowledge retention by spacing out your learning over time. You can set the length of intervals between learning nudges based on the topic and objectives. However, the ideal repetition can vary from every 3 to 7 days from the day of learning.

  • Make repetition Creative

    Since spaced learning thrives on repetition, use creative methods to reinforce your training program’s primary information. This could involve repeating complex ideas in simpler ways. Repetition may mean reusing the same content in creative, and exciting ways. Use digital learning assets like videos, stories, scenarios, simulations, practice activities, etc. All these strategies engage learners in content and improve retention.

  • Create scope for real-life application

    Providing real-world applications takes the creative content presentation to the next level. Likewise, actively engaging with learning content promotes understanding. Infographics and other didactic activities are vital to eLearning.

    In addition, simulations, group discussions, quizzes, branching situations, etc., are needed for real-world application. Using online learning assets mimics real-life scenarios your employees will recall and apply to their jobs. This boosts productivity and ROI.

  • Encourage on-the-job practice

    You’re probably inclined to use self-paced learning options for spaced learning through LMS, LXP or other learning platforms. Digital delivery techniques can provide good training in a limited amount of time; however, you may have to encourage learners to practice in the workplace which is equally crucial.

    One creative way of content delivery is through gamification using an LMS. And who doesn’t like games? Achieving or passing a level will motivate learners to use their new skills. They can also win badges, prizes, and leaderboards to recognize learning in LMS.

Importance of Spaced Repetition as Learning Reinforcement

According to scientific research, you need to review the information you initially store in long-term memory a few times to improve your chances of later being able to recollect it when you need it. The Forgetting Curve can be neutralized by spaced repetition; Hence, you must implement spaced repetition.

Spaced repetition entails repeating the material you want employees to remember over a specific period of time, such as, an email etiquette, an information security update, or a new workplace policy.

According to studies, repeating something seven times a week has a greater impact than doing the same thing twenty times in a day.

Practicing reinforcement actions in addition to information repetition fosters employee engagement, and brings about behavioral changes. Organizations experience the following advantages when learners take part in reinforcement activities:

  • Higher rates of knowledge retention over more extended periods
  • Higher productivity among employees
  • Reduced attrition

When employees put what they’ve learned into practice it ultimately results in long-lasting behavior change that contributes to achieving the organizational goals.


We can conclude that the forgetting curve can be neutralized best using learning reinforcement methods that should be part of L&D’s training strategy to sustain the transferred knowledge in your organization.

Using learning platforms like LMS is one of the methods to simplify learning and boost employee engagement while helping counter the forgetting curve. In addition, you can study the outcomes in the LMS to know how well your learning module works and where it needs improvement. Also, microlearning using an LMS for brief repetition makes employees best at their job and helps organizations achieve business goals faster.

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