There have been various studies done on how retention increases as engagement increases during the learning process.
Vidakovik in his study found that people retain:
20% of what they hear
30% of what they see
50% of what they hear and see
70% of what they see, hear, and say (discuss, explain to others); and
90% of what they see, hear, say and do.
*Source: p. 45 Effective Group Coaching by Jennifer J. Britton
As leaders and coaches working with churches in transition, we care not only that information is shared but that there is retention and behavioral change. The more embedded the learning, the more people are likely to make a commitment to action. For this type of learning to take place the learning must be less about information transfer from the teacher to the student and have about the experience and involvement of the learner.
So whether the learning is in the form of a sermon, a workshop, a small group, a listening forum, or a one-on-one mentoring relationship, it`s critical to have the learning go past the eyes and ears and involve an opportunity for a debrief (say) and moved into action (do).
An Experiential Learning Process
How do you increase the stick-ability of a learning experience? You include three things: experience, reflection and application.
The experience of learning is hearing and seeing something that is shared by all those involved in the learning. It can be a message, an exercise or activity, the telling of a story, a problem-solving assignment, an assessment, or some real life situation that a person or group is going through. The goal at this initial phase is to simply involve the learners in the experience.
Questions to help facilitate the experience:
What did we just do?
What did you observe or think about during this exercise?
What feelings did you experience during the telling of this story or during this activity?
The reflection phase is the say or debrief aspect of the learning. This is core to a person's learning because it gives them a chance to digest and put into words what just happened. We who teach or coach others can't assume we know what people are thinking or have experienced unless we give them an opportunity to speak and dialogue about what just happened.
Questions to help facilitate reflection:
So what did you learn that was new?
What learning was confirmed in this experience?
What are some of the implications of this learning experience?
How does this learning relate to your real world?
The application phase is all about what the person will do with what they have learned. It moves the experience from the head and heart to the hands and feet. It increases the likelihood that behavior will change since it's about action not just thought. A commitment to action is reinforced by James when he says "be doers of the word, not just hearers only".
Questions to help facilitate application:
What do you want to do differently going forward?
How can you turn your learning into action?
What is the next step you can take to apply what you learned?
This simply scratches the surface of how to increase the stick-ability of learning and is a deep well which can't be "learned" by reading about it. You need to practice it, see others model it and receive feedback from others while you are teaching and instructing others as experiential learners. It has been a journey of mine that if just beginning but has proven very fruitful as I see people put their learning into practical action.
May this overview encourage you to go deeper in your own ability of helping people turn their learning experiences into action that results in positive change and kingdom impact. Engaging people in the learning process is not just about giving answers but about seeing lives changed for the better!
Note: The source for some of these thoughts has been the book Effective Group Coaching by Jennifer J. Britton.
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