Understanding The Forgetting Curve

Within days, learners begin to forget the information they learned during training. According to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, learners forget 50% of what they learned within the first hour and 90% after the first seven days.

Understanding Ebbinghaus' Findings

Back in 1885, Herman Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist, theorized that new learning is quickly forgotten within days of a course ending. During his study, Ebbinghaus repeatedly tested his memory of nonsense syllables and plotted the results. This later became what we now refer to as the Forgetting Curve.


The Forgetting Curve

Prevent Forgetting 

After his studies, Ebbinghaus found a few key factors that helped increase memory strength:

1. How meaningful the training content is to the learner. Are they truly interested in learning more about the topic?

2. How the content is presented to the learner. Is there a variety of multimedia content?

3. Type of psychological factors that come into play. Is the learner under additional stress?

Increasing Strength of Memory

Ebbinghaus asserted that the optimal timing for the first reinforcement moment is within 24 hours of the initial training. Timing plays a critical role in memory retention. He then hypothesized two methods to increase the strength of a learner’s memory: Spaced repetition (reinforcement over a long period of time) and mnemonic techniques (short phrases, acronyms, or visual aids).

Overlearning Training Materials

Ebbinghaus also tested the strength of a learner's memory after overlearning. He found that if knowledge is practiced more than what is usually required, the Forgetting Curve would become more shallow.

Read more about these hypotheses and Ebbinghaus' findings in our eBook, Moving Beyond The Forgetting Curve, to see how Mindmarker helps move your learners past just remembering and into applying. 

This post was originally published on December 20, 2016.

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