Closing the Learning Loop

One of the dilemmas of trainers is in ensuring people to retain and apply the learning they have experienced.

This is one of my bug bears where I don’t want to spend time with a group, get great evaluations and feel they’ve “got it” only to find very little has been applied. I mean, application is the whole point.

I feel there is an open loop to learning that can be easily closed.

It’s back on the job, where the pressure of the work day and volume of requests do their very best to limit the time and effectiveness of embedding the learning.

People want to apply what they have learned because they remember what the benefit is. It’s having the time and clarity of what to do.

To that end, I have created a “Today I Learned” template.

This is a simple tool designed to allow a learner to have conversation on paper to make sure they are closing the loops to their learning.

It starts with a simple:

Today I Learned… and asks the learner to write down what the learning was. It could be a concept (Today I Learned … how to create an effective meeting agenda) to a whole workshop (Today I Learned … CPR).

So Now I Can … It then asks the learner what that means. This clarifies the purpose and benefit of the learning.

  • So now I can … set up meetings effectively … to help me stay on track.
  • So now I can … administer CPR if it’s needed … and save someone’s life.

I also suggest writing this in a format where you can explain it to others. This also helps in embedding the information.

But now back to work …

So you’ve just completed the best course you’ve ever attended and you’re keen to get stuck into it back at work (maybe CPR (above) was the wrong example to be keen about! 🙄)

But now, back at work with the pressures and demands, Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve comes into mess things up! Elements are forgotten. We lose confidence and focus on the information just learned. It all becomes too hard and we hope we don’t need to administer CPR for at least 12 months.

To counter this, I’ve added the element of:

But I have questions … this allows the individual to acknowledge they had the training and gained some value. But now what do they do when they need to apply the skills/knowledge? It can all get a bit fuzzy, which means questions will arise.

  • Do I pull out the checklist first or do I go straight into CPR?
  • What if I get a stage the wrong way round?
  • “What if …, What if … What if …”

This section allows the learner to write down what’s in their head. Often in writing it out, the answer will become clear. Other times it may require contact with the trainer. (I’d be more than happy to help clarify concepts with a learner after a workshop. Their effectiveness back at work is the whole point, after all!)

The last two sections are:

  1. What is preventing me: a list of things that might be getting in the way
  2. What I plan to do is: a set of steps to overcome the preventions and create momentum

Finally

This is also intended as a coaching plan. Using it with a learner, it helps clarify the issues that are preventing improved performance or blocks to developing a skill. A good coach can work through each section and allow the learner to develop their own solutions.

You can find a copy on the Resources Page. I hope you find it helpful.

I’d be keen to get your thoughts. Have you developed something similar?

If you found this and other material here useful, consider dropping $1 in the cup! And tell a few friends! 🙏

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