Leveraging the Variable Interval Schedule to Make Training Effective

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min read
February 17, 2020

Businesses still run training like they're a school running classes.

This approach doesn't work.

Research shows the adult brain only retains what it repeats frequently.

The schoolroom model can work with daily repetition.

But how do you get daily repetition into a busy adult's workday? Not with an event-based training (read: classroom or single piece of elearning content) approach.

Behavioral psychology proved generations ago the VARIABLE INTERVAL SCHEDULE*.

In short, it means that the brain responds consistently only when stimuli is repeated randomly (the "variable" part).

It's actually our primary mode of operation as human beings!

Think about it: we check our email at varying times, looking for something to respond to. We do this with our texts, news feeds, stock updates, social media, the weather report. Turns out behavioral science knew that this is how we're hardwired, long before the advent of mobile devices.

In order to make training effective, businesses need to ensure they are reinforcing through variable repetition for their learners.

Is the Variable Interval Schedule something you are leveraging in your workplace curriculum design?

*Variable Interval Schedule from Schedules of Reinforcement, C.B. Ferster and B.F. Skinner, 1957.

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