Active Learning Myths and What Really Works

Graphic of an open brain being filled but this is not what works...active learning does

Active Learning Works
Active learning works because real learning is not passive.  Listening to experts or watching others can provide an initial sense of how it’s done, but that’s not how you learn to perform on the job.  If behavior change or performance improvement is the objective, then learners must get involved and actively learn, practice, fail, succeed and receive feedback.

Active Learning Myths
While most conceptually agree that learning by doing makes sense, do not be fooled by two popular active learning myths:

1.  The Read, See, Hear, Write, Do Myth
The first myth that has been circulating since the 1960s is that people remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they see, 30% of what they hear, 50% of what they see and hear, 70% of what they say and write, and 90% of what they do. Michelene Chi is often cited as the source and says that the data did not come from her.

Our experience is that different learning approaches work for different objectives and circumstances.

2.  The 70:20:10 Learning Myth
The second popular active learning myth is the 70:20:10 Model for Learning and Development pioneered by McCall, Lombardo and Eichinger. While the idea that 70% of learning occurs from challenging assignments, 20% from developmental relationships and 10% from coursework and training makes sense intuitively, it is difficult to find any empirical data to support it.

Similar to the previous active learning myth, our experience is that each situation requires a unique combination of approaches that are aligned to specific learning and performance objectives.

Active Learning Research
While corporate data on active learning is hard to find, Research of 225 studies that compare STEM classes taught using various active learning approaches with classes taught via lecture found:

  • Average examination scores improved by about 6% in active learning sessions
  • Students in classes with traditional lecturing were 1.5 times more likely to fail than were students in classes with active learning.

Additionally, our clients report a 4-to-1 performance improvement when participants are frequently, consistently and actively held accountable and provided coaching for the desired new behaviors.

Real Learning Takes Effort
As tempting as it make be for those of us in the corporate learning and development field to just expose employees to what they need to know through eLearning, job aids or videos, we recognize that simple exposure is not enough to sustainably change most behaviors.  Our job is to develop the talent our organization needs to perform at its peak.  And performance improvement takes real effort and active learning.

Beware of “Easy” or “Lazy” Learning
Real learning is not easy.  There must be a degree of difficulty involved to really engage your thinking power.  Though learning can be fun in the sense that you like a challenge or a bit of competition, it requires real focus in order to stick.  And if learning doesn’t stick, it is wasted.

Beware of “Check the Box” Learning
One of the reasons that some executives scoff at training is that they have not seen any improved business results.  Our research covering 800 training programs found that only 20% of participants change behavior or performance from training alone.  This is our fault.

We need to be sure that:

  • Training is highly relevant and supports a strategic business need
  • Senior management stands behind it
  • Employees recognize its value to them and their company
  • Learners are engaged and “stretched”
  • Reflection, practice and feedback are built into the learning experience on-the-job and in the workshop

This is how to truly develop new skills and behaviors.

The Bottom Line
Learning should be challenging rather than easy, concrete rather than abstract, and immediately useful. Have your learners undertake real-world, hands-on tasks using simulations, role plays and projects to deepen learning and the transfer of training.  Don’t squander your credibility as a talent developer or your company resources on anything less than what we know works.

To learn more about active learning and the transfer of training, download How to Change the Game by Increasing the Adoption & Impact of Training

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I’ve partnered with LSA Global at two companies now, and I consider them a valuable and trusted training and consulting resource. They recommended just the right solution to address our management development needs and have wonderful facilitators that match YuMe’s culture and style of our management team. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions with a valuable learning and development partner.

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LSA helped us design and deliver a blended learning solution for our leaders to help drive our growth plans in a way that aligned with our specific culture and values. LSA understood our business, had deep expertise in the content areas, tailored the programs to fit our specific needs, and delivered great results. They constantly strive to deliver business impact and align their solutions with our business initiates, culture, and performance management systems. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to take their leaders to the next level.”

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Thoratec

LSA exceeded all my expectations. We interviewed 7 potential training and consulting partners and selected LSA due to their expertise, flexibility, and breadth and depth of solutions. We were able to construct a management training course from the modules most appropriate to our needs, and are able to provide additional training from their well developed portfolio of experts. Our managers galvanized as a team throughout the session and are better prepared for the rigors of a competitive market.

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Edify

The Next Generation Management Development courses have helped me communicate more effectively with my peers and teammates. By utilizing effective communication techniques such as clarifying and confirming, and asking open ended questions, I have been able to clarify and understand information in situations where I would have otherwise asked limited questions and made false assumptions.

Robert Breckner
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LSA’s approach and ability to bring the best resources to eBay has been a great asset. They really focus on helping us succeed in any way they can and are very flexible in meeting our management and talent needs.

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Learning & Development

ebay

We signed up with LSA early on–as their 22nd Member! Since then, our organization’s learning needs have increased and decreased and increased again with the changing times. The beauty of the LSA business model is its flexibility…when we needed to supplement our own internal resources, we used LSA services knowing that we could depend on the outstanding quality of the leadership development and management training programs they provide.

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We recently partnered with LSA Global to offer our Supervisors and Managers a customized two-day management training program. Everyone who attended said it was by far the best management training program they had ever attended. The content was rich and highly interactive. The case studies were relevant. Each participant walked away from the training much better equipped to lead their teams.

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LSA has become the gold standard in team building and management training at Genomic Health! I have a hard time finding facilitators that come close to their level of customization, expertise and experience.

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We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.

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I’ve been associated with LSA for the last 8 years and have found them to be an extremely professional, well managed full service training organization. Since working with LSA, I’ve participated in a number of solutions ranging from Performance Management to Assertiveness Training – I’ve found that the quality of the resources is superior. They are well prepared and have definitely done a considerable amount of pre-work in order to customize our culture and business into the total learning experience – making it most beneficial for our employees.

Duane Schroeder
Human Resource Manager

In the Next Generation Management Development courses, I was trained with skills and tools that have made me and my team more productive, motivated, and successful at communicating with other departments.

 

Kevin Ashman
Firmware Engineering Supervisor

PalmSource has found our relationship with LSA extremely beneficial. We worked closely with LSA to customize the right Management Training Program solution to meet our unique business needs. LSA is a quality organization, one that I’d recommend to any company looking for a first class training and consulting partner.

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