Do You Remember?


We all learn in different ways. If you’re anything like I am, when you get something new that needs to be assembled, the last thing that you would ever think of doing is use the instructions! Some people are visual learners, some people are very hands on learners, others learn by listening or reading. I know that I learn more when I see something being done and actually am involved in doing it. The challenge for anyone doing a workshop in a treatment center or webinar on recovery is to have their clients or students absorb the information and actually learn.

The two main ways that we learn are active learning and passive learning. Examples of passive learning would be workshops, lectures, speeches, blogs, articles, school, reading, TV, and other things like these. Examples of active learning would be things that we are involved in like role playing, giving a lecture, teaching, etc.

Who are the best teachers? How do they get their students or clients to remember the course material? Is it tones and inflections, or body language that works? Fifty-five percent of communication is body language, thirty-eight percent is tones and inflections, and seven percent is the spoken word. Is it brightly colored charts and fancy power-point presentations? Could it be humor, or a charming personality? Perhaps all of these things factor in to being a great instructor, but none of these factors will help the clients or students to remember the course material.

The professional who lectures and hands out reading assignments to his or her clients may not be very effective long term. If the professional uses a chalk board, that will increase effectiveness for a time. If the professional uses any form of media that will also help improve retention with the clients. The truth is, within two weeks the clients will have forgotten more then they remember about the professional’s lecture.

Statistics show that we remember approximately ten percent of what we read and twenty percent of what we hear within two weeks of learning something new. If we get to see the new information the number goes up to thirty percent. If we get to see and hear the new information and we are paying attention, the number can go as high as fifty percent. That’s pretty good!

It’s not good enough! I have been teaching workshops for the past nineteen years in a residential drug and alcohol program. There is no doubt in my mind that the most effective way to teach clients is to involve them in the teaching. My favorite teaching tool is role play. I also love to give my clients topics and have them do skits on what they have learned. Active learning is fun, exciting, and the best way for clients to learn.

The numbers don’t lie. Clients will remember approximately seventy percent of what they say and ninety percent of what they say and do during active learning within a two week period. It’s obvious that the best way to teach is using active learning such as role play. It’s more fun for the instructors too! Just watching the creativity of the clients, you can’t help but smile.

For the past two years I’ve been teaching webinars for The Addictions Academy; the feedback I get from our students is always that they love the role play. Some hesitate at first, but once they start, they always find that they enjoy role play. I usually get a good laugh as well.

The goal of any instructor or professor is to provide new information to students or clients that they will remember; information that students or clients can call upon in their lives when needed and useful in career and personal lives. Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” It won’t be very powerful if students or clients can’t remember what they have learned! Do you remember the lessons that your instructor or professor provided for you? If you want to change the world, get involved!

©2015 Rev. Dr. K.T. Coughlin