Applying the AGES Model to Boost Leadership Training Retention

When it comes to designing learning experiences we need to know how to make certain that the learning is understood and retained once the training program has ended.  David Rock presented the AGES model as a tool which will help make learning “sticky”.

A stands for Attention.  It seems logical that we are more likely to remember what we pay attention to. Yet today we are surrounded my things which distract us from what we are doing.  Think about how often you check your social media pages, have to answer your phone or fiddle with your mobile device.  These things that compete for our attention and engagement limit the amount of learning that our brain can absorb.  The hippocampus doesn’t activate enough for learning to occur.

G stands for Generation.  This refers to the links that our brain generates for us to help us remember what we’ve just learnt.  People need to take in the information and make it personal by thinking about how it can be applied, how it will impact themselves and interpreting the learning in their own context.  This helps connect the learning to memories already existing in the brain.  It builds and strengthens connections which help the learning “lock in”.

E stands for Emotion.  We know that emotion helps enhance memory, adding a vividness to the association with the new material being learnt.  Emotion grabs the brain’s attention and the amygdala (the emotional centre of the brain) stimulates the hippocampus, telling it that this piece of learning is important.

S stands for Spacing.  In my last post I talked about the importance of rest. “In fact, research shows that a good sleep after learning something new can actually help you remember it in a way that makes it practical.”  Spacing is the same principle in action.  By dividing up the episodes of learning with periods of rest, the brain can sort and connect what it has learnt so far and anchor it, ready to build on.

As learners we need to become more aware of the way our minds work.  We need to make conscious decisions to remove distractions as we learn and rather than trying to learn everything at once, realise the value of the rest break.

Good leadership programs need to incorporate these principles into the training so it becomes brain-friendly and changes become rooted in the memory.  Rather stand simply presenting information, trainers should be creating an environment in which the learning is “owned” by the learners.

By following the AGES model, training will genuinely make a difference in your organisation.

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