Learning and development (L&D) programs are under more pressure than ever to deliver quantifiable value for organizations. Since it can be difficult to convince organizations to invest dollars in programs that have no clear KPIs or goals—especially if it's tricky to show their impact—programs that are viewed as nice to have are likely to face budget cuts, particularly in an unsteady economic climate.
Creating a culture that emphasizes L&D increases employee productivity and retention, and gains like this impact organizations at every level. Grounding your L&D programs in learning science can help you deliver more effective programs that provide measurable, lasting results for your people and your organization.
One learning science technique that does this is intentional application.
Prioritize Learning Science for Maximum Impact
L&D is no longer a simple exercise of booking a conference room and sharing some PowerPoint slides with your team. Quality professional development needs to accommodate varying learner motivations, instructor modalities, and stages in the learning process.
At times, learners may want comprehensive, lengthy courses that help them develop skills they’ll use for years to come. Some might want two-minute instructional videos to help them overcome an acute problem they’re facing. Others may prefer to choose which skills to develop on their own. Regardless of learner preferences, your organization needs to provide targeted learning paths grounded in learning science to achieve broader organizational transformation—which is no easy task.
Providing a library of learning content is a good start, but it doesn’t solve complex professional development needs. Instead, L&D leaders must look for ways to create flexible impact journeys that combine multiple learning modalities—in-person, online, self-paced immersive, and self-paced microlearning—to meet learners’ needs.
Use the 70/20/10 Rule and Other Application Methods
L&D programs need to clearly tie back to actionable results for your organization. Intentional application is a learning technique that is backed by science and also measurable over time. When your programs connect learning to intentional application, you provide your people with training that doesn’t just address an immediate knowledge or skills gap, but transforms behavior over time.
While it’s important to create active, engaging, inspiring learning experiences, content absorption is only the first step. For people to truly integrate and retain what they learn, they need to apply concepts contextually in new situations. This method is known as far transfer, and it is a pivotal learning technique.
The concept of intentional application goes by many names: deliberate practice, the Kolb experiential learning cycle, the 70/20/10 rule (70% of learning happens on the job, 20% comes from discussions with other people, and 10% comes from the actual coursework). Whatever you call it, it has a big impact on learning. A foundational study showed that application-centric learning led people to retain 2.5 times more information than other methods.
Virtual or in-person instruction is one step in a broader impact journey. People need to see new skills and principles in practice in order to make them stick. Intentional application expands professional development programs beyond a one-and-done training opportunity—and that’s why it works. In your L&D program, explore ways to challenge learners to apply lessons in the real world, even when it’s hard or uncomfortable, so you see an increased impact that provides value to both your people and your organization.
Get the Most Out of Your Learning Program Investment
L&D programs are a critical area of investment for organizations to help their people learn, grow, and progress professionally. Investing in programs that are backed by learning science principles, such as intentional application, can help you position your efforts for maximum impact with learners and with your leadership team. As you invest in your people and gather data about how specific programs are fostering their transformation, you can optimize your efforts and maximize your results.
Impactful learning journeys are the key to leveraging your L&D. Learn how to use learning science principles to design effective, engaging programs that help your people change their mindset and behavior and deliver powerful organizational results.