How the 7 Principles of Reinforcement Increase Training Impact

There are a lot of ways to optimize your training programs, from including gamification, presenting training as bite-sized microlearning, and encouraging healthy competition among peers. Another way to increase impact is to employ training reinforcement. We've outlined our top tips for how the 7 principles of reinforcement can take your learning and development programs to the next level.  

1. Close the 5 Reinforcement Gaps

Your learners can only retain and apply their training and increase their productivity if they close the most common reinforcement gaps after training has ended. These gaps are:

  • Knowledge gap: Knowing the training goal
  • Skills gap: Knowing how to apply the training
  • Motivation gap: Level of motivation to make a change in behavior
  • Environment gap: An environment that supports learning and growth
  • Communication gap: Enough guidance to continuously learn and apply training, with check ins regularly to assess and adjust

2. Master the 3 Phases for Results

To see lasting results, your learners should go through the three phases of behavior change:

  • Awareness - The learner needs to understand why behavior change is necessary.
  • Knowledge & Skills - The learner needs to understand how to change their behavior.
  • Behavior Change - The learner needs to apply the new skills to create a lasting impact.

3. Provide a Perfect Push and Pull

Reinforcement is more than just re-training. A perfect balance between push and pull communication, where learners are presented with information and then expected to react and provide response in some way, is essential for success.

Offering bite-sized, mobile or web-based microlearning activities keep learners engaged with minimal impact on daily responsibilities. This, coupled with physical interactions, will ensure your learners keep on track and exhibit lasting behavior change.

4. Create Friction and Direction

Avoid boring tasks to increase the effectiveness of a reinforcement program. Here are a few tips on how to effectively create social friction

  • Don’t just tell participants to learn, show them how to apply what they've learned
  • Provide written scenarios and opportunities for self-reflection
  • Encourage social friction
  • Provide a variety of content forms

5. Follow the Perfect Reinforcement Flow

Keep a consistent balance between challenge and satisfaction to encourage engagement, retention, and adoption.

6. Create Measurable Behavior Change

Set reinforcement objectives early on to determine the metrics you'll use to measure behavior change.

Reinforcement objectives are different from training objectives. To determine reinforcement objectives, determine what impacts you want to see on the organization. Also, create actionable intelligence to help make decisions on structuring future training programs. 

Remember, reinforcement isn't an assessment. It's a comprehensive solution for driving behavior change after a training program. This is done through a variety of questions, scenarios, and surveys that contextualize training content. 

7. Center the Learner Experience

When developing a training program or course, make sure you put the learners first. Take into consideration different learning styles and skill sets to maximize engagement and drive actionable results for long-term behavior change.

Want to learn more about the key principles behind training reinforcement? Download our eBook: From the Olympics to the 7 Principles of Reinforcement.

This post was originally published on December 5, 2019.

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