The Role of Memory in Educational Interventions

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“As educators, we have to work hard to try and minimize the amount of forgetting that happens in learning.” In this video, Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, ACCME President and CEO, outlines 5 strategies to improve learner retention in CME.


>>McMAHON: Forgetting is a natural part of learning, but as educators, we have to work hard to try and minimize the amount of forgetting that happens. You'll reduce the amount of forgetting, if you can maximize the amount of information that goes into long-term memory, from sensory, into working memory, into long-term memory. And what can you do as an educator to achieve that? Five things.

First, make for activities that meet real needs. Individuals based on assessments, based on quality data, something else about that individual that makes them want to participate and are intentional about their participation. Number two, make for an activity that's engaging, that creates attention, that's multi-sensory, audiovisual, practical, talking with other people, active. That makes it more likely that the information will be transferred to long-term memory. Number three, make it meaningful for the individual based on real context and then require real learning work to happen. We don't learn passively and we forget information that's absorbed passively.

Number four, rehearse, repeat, remind. Whether it's five minutes, fifty minutes, five hours, five weeks, utilize the benefits of repetition to try and consolidate the learning. And finally, make it as personalized and adapt it to the individual as you can so that you track information and get back to that individual in ways that are reasonably unique to them or groups like them. Meet real needs to create the intention, create engaging experiences, create meaningful activities that are context-rich and require real work. Utilize rehearse, repeat, remind and make it as personalized as possible and you will intervene in that punishing forgetting curve, and make for awesome educational experiences.