What good does it do to provide learning opportunities to employees, clients, or students if nothing is done to maximize learner retention and reduce the Forgetting Curve?


There are actual strategies and considerations that can be used and applied to ensure learning takes place but they are often overlooked. They are overlooked because the focus is on providing training rather than ensuring learning takes place.


Training is often a check in a box that was done to mitigate liabilities and to pass off ownership of learning.


What is the Forgetting Curve?


The Forgetting Curve was developed by Hermann Ebbinghaus in 1885. He collected data regarding learning and retention of concepts and then hypothesized that memory of the learning begins to decline soon after the learning occurred.


In his hypothesis, Mr. Ebbinghaus suggested that we lose a great deal, if not most, of what we learned within 24 hours of the original learning. Some experts claim that we lose 90-95% of all learning within the first 24-hours without a review.

Forgetting Curve and Distributed Practice


OMGeee! What does this mean for instructional designers, training developers, professors, and teachers across the globe? It means that we must be strategic in the design of the learner experience.


A talking head that drones on for an hour and expects learning to have occurred is obsolete. I don’t know what my old college professors think about the Forgetting Curve or if they care but as cultivators of learning, they should care.


Every organization around the world that provides learning opportunities should care. Training costs money and companies should expect a maximum return on their investment for training and educating employees.


There should be checklists, design guides, and step-by-step pdfs galore reminding everyone in training and education how to dramatically reduce the Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve.


I mean, it’s simple. It doesn’t take much. You just have to know how to reduce the Forgetting Curve and build some strategies into your training design.


Primacy/Recency Effect


Before we talk about how to overcome the Forgetting Curve, let’s discuss the Primacy/Recency Effect. In my professional career, I have only come across one individual who knows what this is. And, he was a network marketer who was also a lawyer.


He wasn’t even in education, but he knew about Primacy/Recency. This is shocking to me. At a minimum, every teacher, professor, instructional designer, training developer, and trainer in the world should know what the Primacy/Recency Effect is.


Dr. Sousa provides a great explanation of the Primacy/Recency Effect in his book, How the Brain Learns. If you have the time to check it out, I definitely recommend it! There’s no benefit to me for recommending it either. If you don’t feel up to reading a book on how the brain learns, you could simply type Primacy Recency Effect into your search engine.


In a nutshell, the Primacy/Recency Effect tells us that learners learn best what they hear first (Primacy) and second-best what they learn last (Recency).


In the typical talking head learning scenario where the presenter speakers for 1-hour, the learner has two prime learning episodes. At the beginning and end of the presentation.


Primacy Recency Effect

All of that great content in the middle might have been learned or it might not have been.


Prime Learning Real Estate


This tells us that the prime real estate for learning is at the beginning and end of a learning episode, right? In live training, what often comes during the very BEST time to learn? Thinking..thinking…thinking.


Ah, there it is. The light bulb just went off, didn’t it? The beginning of most live training is often stacked with introductions and housekeeping items. Heck, in classrooms across the US, the best learning time is often spent on taking roll or on warm-ups so that the teacher can take roll or do other housekeeping items.


Let me ask you, “is this the best use of the BEST learning time for your learners?” I think not, and I hope you agree with me.


Now, that you know there are prime learning times, let’s move the most important things you want your learners to learn into one of the two prime learning spots. There are other ways to share housekeeping and bio information.  If it is critical to cover put that type of content in one of the downtimes of learning where the learning naturally dwindles.


Better yet, put it on a handout and distribute it to read before the training or during a break.


Create More Prime Learning Episodes


Hey, here’s an idea for you. You can and should create more prime learning episodes within your trainings. You are not limited to two! Can you say, “hallelujah?”


You can create more learning opportunities with more Primacy/Recency learning periods by chunking your content.


Chunking simply means breaking up your content into smaller chunks, such as 10-20 minutes. Simply, break up your content into these smaller, bite-sized chunks and add in an activity. The activity gives your learner’s brain a short break to process what it just learned. It also provides some entertainment for the brain by bringing in something new and novel.


Maximize learner retention and reduce the forgetting curve.


The activity can be 1 minute, 60 minutes, or somewhere in between. What’s important is that you use activities between content chunks. After the activity, you can deliver a new chunk of content with another set of Primacy/Recency prime learning episodes.


Check this out, if you took a one-hour training and divided it into 3 chunks with activities, you would have 6 prime learning episodes instead of 2, which means more learning!


So, the Primacy/Recency Effect is one way to ensure you are maximizing learner retention of content, and the Forgetting Curve can help you fight learning loss even more.


Fighting the Forgetting Curve

Forgetting Curve and Distributed Practice


Look at this image again. You can see that you can reduce learning loss with distributed practice or reviews.


Just like we learned with the Primacy/Recency Effect, instructional designers, training developers, professors, and teachers can help the brain process and retain learning with a strategically placed review every 10 to 20 minutes throughout the learning period.


We can also see that we can help learners retain even more content with a review 24 hours later and again in 7 days and in 30 days.


When I was a school teacher, I actually put notes into my planner to review content within 24 hours and again in 7 days and in 30 days to help my students remember the information that I had taught them. This was especially important for state-tested materials. At the time, I didn’t know about the Primacy/Recency Effect, so I often accomplished the review in the form of a warm-up.


Later as a training developer and trainer, I struggled to figure out how to accomplish this distributed practice once the training was over.


Distributed Practice Ideas


There isn’t a one size fits all solution for dealing with distributed practice. But, here are a few ideas to consider.


You can build your trainings or lesson plans to chunk content into 20-minute or fewer buckets. Then, plan activities at the end of every chunk. This by itself can make a big impact on learning and retention. Don’t stop here though. Be bold and do something different.


What about building in some review content into a survey or providing a one-pager one-day post-training?


What about sending out a short video from one of your executive leaders 7 days post-training? You could highlight the most important concepts learned and remind learners why that information is important to the company.


One company I supported as a learning consultant brought their participants back together 30 days post-training. In that session, they discussed how each participant had applied concepts learned in their work or with their team.


Another colleague I know created and used Doodly videos to send out as topic reviews post-training.


If a video is too big of an ask, a simple email covering key content could suffice.


You can be creative in how you get the review information in front of your learners. Maximize learner retention and reduce the forgetting curve by building in reviews every 10-20 minutes, within 24 hours, and again 7 and 30 days later.


Imagine the ROI your training could have with some simple strategic reviews added to your content delivery!


Try It & Share It!


If you have a particular training challenge you are facing, share it in The Hangout for some help. Join the group here.

The Testimonials are In:


Shola Richards

Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.

Shola Richards


Graphic Designer

I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.

After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.

Gayle Bower


Teacher, Future Instructional Designer

I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.

Laurie Henderson


Teacher, Future Instructional Designer

I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!

Wendy McMillian


L&D Project Manager

The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!

Gabby Grimaldo


Future Instructional Designer

If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!

Shanna Howe


Future Instructional Designer

I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).

Aviva Berkowitz


Future Instructional Designer

I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.

Krista Johnson Awomoyi


Freelance Instructional Designer

I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.

Darlene Dalgleish


Instructional Designer

This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!

Shawnice Edge


Instructional Designer Training Facilitator

Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.

I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!

Brian Hightower


Freelance Instructional Designer

My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!

Sarah Smith


Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design

I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.

Lee R


Turns Your Written Thoughts Into a Masterpiece!

Shawntay Skjoldager can turn your written thoughts into a masterpiece. She is great to work with and the most organized person I know!

Sheryl Rhoades
President and CEO, The Creative Entreprenuer


Shawntay has been incredible!

Shawntay has been incredible and her team is responsive and effective in translating my training programs into professional presentations. Don’t hesitate to contact her for your project.

President and Principal of HRM Consulting, Inc.


IDC is My Secret Weapon to Soar Above My Competition!

The IDC team has been my secret and special weapon of success. They have delivered above and beyond with every single project out in front of them. They have met and beat timelines. They have been Uber responsive every step of the way. I keep them on speed dial and have and continue to recommend them to friends and clients. If you are in need of instructional design and plenty more, this is THE ALL-STAR team that will more than deliver and help make you and your project soar above the competition.

LT. COL. Jason O. Harris
U.S. Air Force Officer, Special Operations Pilot, U.S.A.F. Academy Instructor, Motivational Speaker


A Tremendous Asset to the Project Team!

Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.

Amanda Buckley
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University


Creative & Highly Talented!

Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer.  She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program.  It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.

Susan Gatti
President, IMMIXID


Breaks Down Mammoth Projects

“Shawntay is quick study and carefully synthesizes information for presentations that are clear, concise and captivating. Her personality draws the audience in and her content mastery is excellent. A team player and organizer, Shawntay has the ability to break down mammoth projects, keep everybody on time and on task.”

Rick Miller
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach


eLearning Development

“I have had many opportunities to work with Shawntay—mainly in the support of implementing new eLearning initiatives. I have been very impressed by her ability to quickly learn how to use rapid eLearning development tools and effectively use them to create multiple courses within a short timeframe. Shawntay’s enthusiastic nature, attention to detail, and dedication to her work make her a pleasure to work with and a great asset to both Texas A&M University-Commerce and the broader training community within the Texas A&M University System.”

Ashley Christian
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning


Top Notch Professional

Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.

Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research


Fortunate to Find Shawntay!

“I was fortunate to find Shawntay when our organization was looking to expand and update our educational offerings. Shawntay proved herself to be an educational and personal development expert who immediately made an impact with our clients throughout Europe. Everyone who came into contact with Shawntay was immediately impressed by her level of expertise and willingness to share her knowledge with those around her. I would not hesitate to recommend Shawntay to anyone looking for an education subject matter expert.”

Jonathan Burt
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.


Short Turn Around. On Time. Under Budget!

“We hired Shawntay to develop a training facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint slide deck for an operations manual heavy with technical content. The project was made more challenging by a very short turn around, 5 business days, and the fact that the operations manual wasn’t complete and was being updated simultaneously with the facilitator’s guide and slide deck. Despite these challenges, Shawntay delivered as promised. On time and under budget.”

Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services


Need an Expert Who Consistently Delivers?

“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”

Mellora Moore
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships


Quality Products & Solutions!

“I had had the pleasure of knowing and working with Shawntay on more than a few occasions. I found her to be a very good business partner and very committed to delivering a quality product or solution in a timely manner. I have always had a positive experience in partnering with Shawntay and would recommend that you consider leveraging her talent.”

Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach


“Invest in yourself and take your skills to the next NEXT level!”

Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.

Patrick Hodges
Managing Partner, PHiG


“Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!”

Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!

Mike Stubblefield
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics


“Spot on”

I have known and worked with Shawntay  as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations.  The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention.  Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.

Owner, Certified Consulting Services


“Shawntay Skjoldager reached in and made my training life so much easier!”

I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.

Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!


Katie Carter
Training Specialist, LegalShield

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