The Chinese philosopher Lao Tse understood how learning occurs hundreds of years ago when he so wisely said: “Tell me, I may listen. Teach me, I may remember. Involve me, I will do it.”
It has been proven that the more senses that are engaged in the learning process, the greater the likelihood that new learning will be retained. The more we involve learners, the more senses are engaged, thereby increasing the probability that they will learn, retain, and apply what they have learned.
This principle is supported by four different research findings and models. As you will see, each model builds upon the previous model.
The first model is the Cone of Experience and Learning, which Edgar Dale discovered in 1946. He found that after two weeks, we tend to remember only 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, and 30% of what we see. [Note 8-27-16: this model is actually for audiovisuals, so is no longer applicable]
However, once we start to involve more than one sense at a time- having learners both hear and see, we increase retention to 50%. Therefore, if the training method is lecture supported by PowerPoint, the possible learning retention is 50%. However, this is still very passive learning. The learner is simply sitting there, supposedly taking in content.
The minute we actively engage the learner by having the learner say something about the content, we increase the likelihood of retention to 70%! The percentage geometrically increases to 90% when the learner has the opportunity to both say and do!
That is why it is so important to actively involve participants in learning activities that require them to verbally interact and to physically apply their new learning.