In 1885, German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus created a mathematical model that demonstrates how quickly people forget new information. Called the “forgetting curve,” Ebbinghaus’s model indicates people lose roughly seventy percent of what they learn within twenty-four hours.

For employers working to maximize employee learning retention, the forgetting curve is an intimidating obstacle. It bears remembering that the curve only applies if the learner makes no attempt to retain the memory. It’s possible to “reset” the learning curve through strategies designed to improve knowledge retention.

Immediate Application of Learned Skills

Immediate application of new skills or knowledge is the best way to maximize employee learning retention. Employees who use skills immediately after or during training are more likely to retain learning.

The immediate recall of new information breaks the forgetting curve while the memory is still fresh, giving the mind more time to retain new knowledge. Even just thinking about new information resets the forgetting curve, although practical application is much more efficient.


Immediate recall of knowledge or application of skills should be followed by regularly scheduled repetition. Repetition continuously resets the forgetting curve, preventing the curve from reaching the point where memory is lost. With enough repetition, new information moves into long-term memory.


Microlearning is one of the newest weapons in the fight to improve knowledge retention. Instead of presenting information in large, hard-to-process chunks, microlearning breaks information down into easily-absorbed “nuggets.”  

Short lectures, hands-on activities, repetition, discussion, and use of videos and interactive teaching formats typify microlearning. By learning in short spurts instead of through lengthy modules and lectures, students find it easier to retain information.

Online Learning

These methods can be used to maximize employee learning retention in traditional classrooms with some success, but live online training offers the perfect environment for microlearning, repetition, and the immediate application of new skills. Video Conferencing, infographic, virtual quizzes, and videos all help keep the forgetting curve from progressing, so your employees end training ready to immediately apply what they’ve learned. TPC Training leads the industry in online training seminars. Call us today to discuss how we can help you train your employees.


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