What Is the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve (and How Can You Combat It)?


I’m going to offer you a list of five words: rectangle, Java, platypus, sunglasses, novel.
Got them? Good. Now, how a lot of those words do you think if I asked you to recall these you’d remember? Alright, what about tomorrow when I asked you. .or even the next moment?
You can imagine that the more time that passes, the harder those words are going to be to recall? You’re likely already familiar with this concept in the event that you stayed up late cramming the night before a major test.
This phenomenon is referred to as the forgetting curve (its formal name is actually the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve (in case you’re feeling fancy), and it reveals a good deal about the pace at which we forget info. Curious? Let’s dig into the details.

The forgetting curve was coined by a German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus (therefore the formal name), in the late 1800s. It’s a formula which represents the pace at which information is forgotten after it is initially learned.
Ebbinghaus was intrigued by the memory and ran experiments on himself to check his recollection. He began by obeying a list of syllables as an article for Quartz explains. Then, he sees just how many he remembered in time at different points.
What he discovered? Yep, as you might suspect, your memory quickly fades. He might have the ability to recall those syllables instantly, but it’d be much harder for him to do so when he analyzed himself.
This may appear obvious to you, however, Ebbinghaus’ research was groundbreaking for its time. And, it not all is quite as straightforward as you might assume.
Here is the thing: the forgetting curve isn’t gradual. There is a remarkably steep dropoff in your memory directly at the start (as an example, if I asked you to recall those random five words tomorrow).
But things taper off. Meaning, if you were only able to recall two words you’d likely remember those same two words for the upcoming several days–you would not necessarily increasingly forget more and more words until you could not recall one.
Picture via Quartz
Ebbinghaus discovered that your memory retention is 100% instantly after learning information to assign some numbers for this. It then requires a nosedive to around 40 percent within the first few days and the speed of your memory loss slows again.
So, . .how can you improve your memory strength?
If you’re consuming this information and thinking, “Wow, that’s frustrating!” We certainly can not blame you. You want to have the ability to retain a fantastic chunk of the things you understand, rather than having them vanish from your mind entirely only a day or two later.
Here is the good news: you are not totally powerless here. You might simply need to generate some alterations to how you’re learning (or teaching!) To be able to increase your chances of that information.
What does that mean? Well, as a part of the research, Ebbinghaus also identified something spaced learning or called repetition that was spaced.
This technique means you’ll revisit the info that you need to remember rather than experiencing it and crossing your fingers that you will commit it.
In a context that is very simple, maybe that means composing yourself some flashcards that you’ll use to quiz yourself so that you’re reiterating that information about the daily, or jotting something down on a.
Or it means making use of microlearning in the courses you’re creating to present smaller bits of information at one time and bring up them in later modules. If you’re training your team, make sure you try to find a learning management system (LMS) that’s flexible enough (like the GoSkills LMS) to accommodate this approach.
Having accessibility to knowledge, such as an online Excel course, gives the advantage of being able to access classes right when you need it to you. This means if you’re currently working with Pivot Tables of a sudden, you are able to revisit the course lesson you need in time, and also help sharpen your memory of how to perform a job.
By employing these sorts of tactics to refresh this information, you’re easing the burden in your mind –and hopefully reducing the steepness of that pesky curve.

Boosting your memory does not need to be hard
Most of us wish to recall more of what we learn (and the things we would like to commit to memory are likely more significant than that list of five random words). There is no shortage of fixes out there that promise to improve our retention and hacks.
But, as it turns out, remembering more isn’t really all that complicated. You need to assign some opportunity to revisit that info on a regular basis, rather than trying to commit it all to memory.
After all, if you go back to your own days of taking exams, you will likely easily admit that reviewing this information for 20 minutes a day for several months was far more valuable (and of course less anxiety-inducing!) Than trying to stuff all of it into your mind through an all-nighter cram session.
You already know what you need to do–you need to set aside the time to make it happen. And GoSkills microlearning courses are an excellent place to get started cementing those essential business skills.
On the lookout for an LMS which enables for other approaches, spaced repetition, and microlearning which will boost retention rates for both your team and you? Check out the GoSkills LMS today.


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