When I started Rethink Compliance in the summer of 2015, one of our first clients was Threat Ready Resources, a new company founded by some former colleagues who were intent on launching a better cybersecurity training company.
Threat Ready was launched from a few key observations:
And yet, despite this, the leading cybersecurity training companies at that time were peddling longer, “one subject at a time” training products that were actually best suited to provide defensibility—in other words to provide their clients with proof of training activity. No one was talking about effectiveness or trying to measure their current training efforts to identify gaps and devise improvements.
Which is where Threat Ready saw an opening.
I was fortunate to be able to meet with Roediger to talk through his research and start to understand how his insights might be applied to create better, more effective employee training. Those insights are baked into the Threat Ready curriculum, and in this four-part blog series, I’ll discuss what Roediger’s research shows and how compliance teams might apply those same insights to create a better compliance learning program.
(Full disclosure: As part of my initial involvement, I became a shareholder and part-owner in Threat Ready, so I hold a financial interest in the company.)
The Science of Learning
Roediger and his co-authors open their book with a startling statement: Most people—and most schools, companies, and other learning providers—are going about learning the wrong way.
They write: "[R]esearch into how we learn and remember shows that much of what we take for gospel. . . turns out to be largely wasted effort. . . But there’s a catch: the most effective learning strategies are not intuitive."
As the authors write: “The good news is we now know of simple and practical strategies that anybody can use to learn better and remember longer.”
Make it Stick spans a number of topics, four of which are especially relevant when designing compliance learning:
We’ll cover the first insight in today’s post.
Insight 1: To Learn, Retrieve
Studies show that, when we learn something, there’s an initial, large drop off followed by a slower erosion. Typically, 70% of what we’ve learned falls away quickly, and the remaining 30% disappears more slowly over time.
One way to combat forgetting is to make memories stronger and more durable in the first place—we’ll cover some ways to do that in future posts.
But another way to make learning stick is to interrupt the forgetting curve. The best way to do that?
Test your learners.
According to Make it Stick: “Even a single test in class can produce a large improvement in final exam scores, and gains in learning increase as the number of tests increase.”
As the authors explain, retrieval is like exercise for the brain. Any type of practice or recall is better than none, but some factors are especially effective:
So how can compliance programs put this insight to use?
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