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The Learning Pyramid

Research tells us that different kinds of learning approaches lead to very different results in terms of learner retention. As the chart illustrates, there are seven primary educational approaches employed by schools, colleges, universities, and other educational environments. These are not the only approaches or methods by which learning can occur but the research does suggest that these are the ones used most often and most successfully, especially in a more fromal training oriented type of environment

The chart is drawn as a pyramid to reflect the fact that retention is considered to be weakest when the primary educational approach is a lecture, only 5% on average after one week has elapsed after the learning. Reading is twice as good and a practical demonstration achieves a 25% retention level on average. However, the best retention approaches are achieved by the four methods drawn at the base of the pyramid:

• Where group discussion is incorporated into the learning improves retention to 50%.
• Giving people the chance to practice what they learn in action improves retention to 65%.
• Giving individuals learning related projects or assignments that really stretch them improves retention to 75%.
• Giving people the chance to teach others what they have learned improves retention to 85%.

The 20/20 MDS® uses all seven learning delivery methods, but concentrates learner time heavily on methods at the base of the pyramid. In an Action Learning model, the ultimate aim is to help people to ask insightful questions more than simply regurgitating the so-called “right answers”.


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