How Adult Learners Can Fight the ‘Forgetting Curve’

The “forgetting curve” is the rate at which people typically forget new information they have learned, such as information taught to them in school. The 19th century researcher Herman Ebbinghaus developed the concept of the forgetting curve after he tested himself to see his own rate of forgetting information.

Ebbinghaus’s experiments showed that people typically forget about two-thirds of new information they learn by the end of the first day; the other third they retain–at least for a while. When measuring long-term retention, people typically lose about half of that remaining third every two years, while ultimately retaining about 10 percent of the initial information.

It is distressing for educators to think that their students will probably only remember 10 percent of what they learn in the classroom. For children in grammar and high school, much of the foundation of math, grammar, history and science that kids need may be lost by the time they need to put it into practice. For those in higher education, information they may need to be prepared in their careers may also go by the wayside.

Fortunately, there are some ways to increase retention and fight the “forgetting curve” so that students will be better prepared to move on to more advanced information and concepts.

Fighting the Forgetting Curve

One major weapon in the battle against the forgetting curve is repetition. When you only hear or read something once, you retain little from it. Repeating pertinent information helps you remember more of the information. This is why studying for a test works, but it is also why students often forget most of the information they learned within a few days to a week of taking the test–because they stop repeating the information to themselves once they don’t need to remember it anymore.

Another effective technique for remembering information is to connect it to something you already know. Storytelling is one way to do this that usually keeps students’ interest level high and allows them to integrate the new information into existing facts so they can remember how it fits together.

Effective educators can also review previously learned information and then build on it with new facts and concepts that are related to it. In educational circles, this is called scaffolding, because it builds on information that students have already been taught and adds new layers of information to it.

Mnemonic devices are also useful in retaining information. Instead of remembering many different, seemingly unrelated facts, learners only have to remember a word or phrase and what it stands for. Collaboration and group work can also increase retention because social interaction–questions asked and information shared with others–can be easier to remember than dry facts and knowledge.

Armed with these techniques, learners can be confident that they will be able to remember information when they need to, and can make the best possible effort to retain information that may be needed in a career or in life. Join our mailing list to see all the continuing education opportunities CCSU offers.

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6 Tips for Developing a Learning Culture at Work

There are many benefits to creating a learning culture in the workplace. When employees continually learn, their job performance improves, and they may even develop needed skills to advance to higher positions. Efficiency also increases,  and employees may begin to develop a mindset of constant improvement.

Other benefits are that employees may adapt to change better and have more ownership and accountability regarding their jobs. It takes time and effort to develop a learning culture in the workplace. Here are some ways to do so.

1. Recognize and reward learners in the workplace.

There are many ways to do this—offering public congratulations when someone earns a degree or certificate, talking about who is enrolled in a program, and making sure all employees are aware of incentives like tuition reimbursement are just a few. When people see co-workers getting rewarded for continuing education, it will encourage them to seek out learning opportunities as well.

2. Make making mistakes acceptable.

Creating a learning culture means understanding and communicating the truth that making mistakes is part of the learning process. A sense of shame or even discomfort around making mistakes will stifle learning because people will not want to take risks. On the other hand, looking at mistakes as part of an ongoing learning process will lead to greater innovation, as people learn from those mistakes and build on them to eventual success.

3. Use on-demand learning to make it more accessible.

New methods of learning like webinars, online modules, and video instruction make learning more accessible. Employees can access them when they have time, and the entire team doesn’t have to be together in order to learn.

4. Use different learning styles.

Formalized learning like required training can often be looked at by employees as boring and a waste of time. Using educational material that incorporates different learning styles—visual, auditory, hands-on, etc.—will make the training time more interesting and lead to better retention of the material, since any given group is likely to have people in it who learn very differently.

5. Teach managers how to coach.

One-on-one learning can be extremely effective. Managers who can coach their employees on best practices and desired outcomes will find them more highly motivated to improve and succeed as a result of their continued learning. Part of the overall training strategy for any business should be training their managers on coaching skills so they can impact their team positively.

6. Encourage feedback and dissent.

It is not possible to know without asking, whether training or ongoing learning programs are effective and helpful to employees. Also, not every person is the same and feels the same way about learning or about particular learning initiatives. Many businesses try to squelch dissent because they feel it will lead to disloyalty or people leaving the company, but feedback and dissent are necessary in order to identify where the company can improve and to move forward in doing so.

CCSU provides many continuing education opportunities for those in all job fields and also for personal enrichment. Join our mailing list for more information about all the ways professionals can continue to learn through our courses.

How Emotional Intelligence Impacts Workplace Success

Emotional intelligence is the ability to know your own emotions as well as those of other people, evaluate them and manage them. Emotional intelligence rests in various personal characteristics like perseverance, self-control and interpersonal skills that enable you to get along with others.

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

In the workplace, principles of emotional intelligence can help employees navigate workplace conditions, work together with others, and generally perform better. The following characteristics represent the five pillars of emotional intelligence, which some hiring teams have begun to interview for and companies have begun to encourage in their current employees.

Self-awareness involves understanding your strengths and weaknesses as well as the impact your actions have on other people. Self-aware people are often able to accept constructive criticism better than others.

Self-regulation is the ability to express emotions appropriately, without revealing too much or repressing too much. Restraint and self-control characterize this trait and help employees have positive interactions with others.

Motivation is another trait those with emotional intelligence possess. Instead of being motivated by external rewards or threats of punishment, an inner ambition and sense of right and wrong motivate those who are highly emotionally intelligent.

Empathy means being able to identify with the feelings of others and understand human nature. Empathy is evident in those who care about the feelings of others and try to help them when they are going through hard times.

People skills include the ability to meet the needs of others when interacting and build trust and rapport. Those with emotional intelligence avoid power struggles and backstabbing, and they usually enjoy being with other people.

Why Emotional Intelligence is Important in the Workplace

According to the Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum, emotional intelligence will be a top job skill by 2020. Some employers are beginning to use assessments during the hiring process to measure the emotional intelligence of candidates. Emotionally intelligent candidates are attractive to employers because they handle the normal stresses of the job in healthier ways, and they often make better decisions than those with lower emotional intelligence.

Cooperation and teamwork have taken on the utmost importance in many workplaces—teams that can’t work well together are a drag on the organization and negatively impact the bottom line with lowered productivity and poor decision-making. Emotionally intelligent employees also react better to constructive feedback and are better listeners.

Emotionally intelligent workers are resilient; they can make adjustments when things don’t work out the way they expect. They can overcome irritations and people generally respect them and seek to emulate them. In time, emotionally intelligent people can often pass their traits and skills on to others, which can benefit the entire organization.

While some say that emotionally intelligent people are born with those personality traits, others say emotional intelligence can be learned like other skills. Either way, employers are going to be actively looking for signs of emotional intelligence in candidates for some time to come.

Join the CCSU mailing list to get information on courses we will be offering, including continuing education for the workplace and enrichment courses for personal growth.

How to Learn Something New Everyday

Human beings are always learning from our environments and life experiences, but having some intentionality about what we are learning can greatly improve the quality of what we learn and its benefits for our lives. It is possible to learn something new that is of value every day. Here are some ways to make that happen.

New Environments Lead to Learning

Seeking out a new environment or situation can lead to valuable opportunities to learn something new. Even something as simple as visiting someone you’ve never visited before or shopping at a different store can teach you things you didn’t know before and lead to growth. There are plenty of ways to experience a new environment, too, so you are unlikely to run out of these opportunities any time soon.

Breaking routine helps you experience something different, and you notice more about what’s all around you than you do when you are going to the same places and doing the same things. Intentionally getting out of your comfort zone teaches you things that you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to learn.

Travel to A New Destination

The ultimate new environment comes by traveling to a new place that you’ve never been before. Even a day trip to a new place can teach you many new things about that place, its history, and the things that make it special. Travel can also teach you about different cultures and ways of doing things, which can be incredibly useful in our multicultural world.

Be Around Other Learners

Making friends with others who pursue and enjoy learning will stimulate and encourage your own learning. You can be around other learners by joining a group or club aligned with an existing or new interest, or even just by hanging out in a place where people learn, like a library or museum. You can also volunteer at a school or other community where learning takes place and get the benefits of the environment while helping others.

Teach What You Know

The process of teaching something to someone else—even if you know it very well—always leads to more learning for the teacher. Everyone has some kind of skill that they can teach to others: it could be making your favorite recipe, writing a story, or doing your taxes. You can teach someone informally, one-on-one, or in a classroom. All of these ways of teaching will help you learn your topic more deeply, which will, in turn, make you an even better teacher.

Take a Course

Whether you set out to earn a degree or just want to extend your learning with continuing education courses, a classroom situation is sure to teach you something new each time you attend. Continuing education courses are available on many different topics from hobbies to people skills to job-related courses that could earn you a promotion or advanced certification.

CCSU offers many continuing education courses in both professional and enrichment topics that can help you learn something new every day. View open courses to see what is available and coming up shortly.

How to Get Started with Social Media for Your Business

In today’s marketplace, having a social media presence has many benefits for businesses. An effective social media presence with the right kind of interactions can help companies spread the word about their products and services, generate positive word of mouth, and give customers a place to interact with their brand.

Social media can be a free or nearly free form of advertising. For some types of businesses, it can provide a source of sales leads. Social media can also be a way for businesses without another significant web presence to build one without creating an expensive website.

Getting Started in Social Media

Getting a Facebook page or Twitter handle for your business seems easy, and it can be, but the world of social media can be incredibly time-consuming and overwhelming for some. There are dozens of social media sites, each with a different niche or target audience, and it can be difficult to know which ones are worth the time it will take to develop an engaging presence there.

Facebook and Twitter are the two biggest social media sites, and they also have the most general audiences. Besides these two, you can look into other, smaller sites to see if they seem like a good way to connect with the audience you want to reach. For example, Tumblr is built more around personal experiences, fictional stories, and blogs. Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat are image-centered.

Step By Step

Rome wasn’t built (or filled) in a day, and you likely won’t gain a million Facebook or Twitter followers that quickly either. Getting the basic page set up comes first, then adding information, links to content or your website if you have one, images, etc.

Next, invite your friends and post your page information around your business location or office so that customers and contacts will find you. Asking friends to recommend your page or handle to their friends is a good step, and you can also host small giveaways and other promotions that can boost your traffic.

The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends having an editorial calendar to plan your content rather than just posting spur of the moment. Planned posts will help you take advantage of holidays and control your content better.

Early on, you should figure out how to track your engagement so you know how campaigns are doing and which promotions were most successful. Some social media platforms come with built-in analytics tracking. You can also download a software program to help you with this, and once you get started, you will find tracking to be a valuable tool that helps your business grow.

Always remember that the main goal of social media is to be social—that is, friendly and personable. You want to handle social media like a business, but you don’t want your customers to see it that way. Sharing information about your personal life, when you feel comfortable, can help customers feel connected to you and want to become or remain customers.

CCSU offers courses for businesses including information about social media and other ways to grow and develop your business. Join our mailing list for information about what we offer.

7 Hidden Benefits of Lifelong Learning

The cognitive benefits of lifelong learning are fairly obvious, but there are other hidden benefits to lifelong learning that may not be so easy to see. Here are some of the less obvious (but still important!) benefits:

1. Improved social skills.

Social skills are easy to forget over time, but being in a classroom learning situation with others can refresh and improve your social skills in a number of ways. Continuing education gives learners confidence so they can be more comfortable as a leader and a group member in their work situation or other areas of their lives.

2. A renewed excitement for your work.

Continuing education courses and other lifelong learning efforts can bring new ideas and strategies into your repertoire that can make you more excited to go to work every day. New things can be just what workers need to liven up their work days and get them more motivated to put in their 40 hours each week, as well as making those 40 hours more palatable and interesting.

3. A larger professional network.

Other highly motivated businesspeople are also taking continuing education courses to help expand their professional network. These learning opportunities can be valuable for building your network of professional colleagues, which is likely to lead to opportunities for more advanced positions or new challenges.

4. More opportunity for career growth.

Continuing education can qualify you for a promotion at work or for jobs outside your current organization, if you want to make a move. If you have aspirations for career growth, lifelong learning is the best way to achieve those goals (along with hard work, of course).

5. Better adaptation to change.

Exposure to more ideas and best practices in your field will make you more able to adapt to change—and change is inevitable in every field. Whether it’s expected automation advances or a new computer system, you can learn how to adapt to these changes and come out of them with a stronger career and a more positive outlook on your work and your life.

6. A stronger economic outlook.

Not only could engaging in lifelong learning earn you more money personally, but it can contribute to a stronger economy in your region or even nationally. Ongoing training and learning are necessary for keeping up with the rapidly evolving technologies of many job environments, which has a direct impact on the economy moving forward.

7. A longer career.

With 60 percent of jobs requiring post-secondary education by 2020 and up to 50 percent of jobs becoming redundant because of automation by 2025, continuing to learn may help you to remain relevant in your career and keep your job for the long haul.

CCSU offers many different continuing education courses for lifelong learners. Join our mailing list for courses that will help with your career or just enrich your life.