Some of the best academic advice I ever received came from my son when he was 10 years old . I was a single mom balancing a full-time career and part-time night classes. I would study in any spare moment I could afford. One evening as I was particularly frustrated with a statistical problem, I proclaimed “I am never going to get this right, I just keep making mistakes!” My third grader came to my side, looked in my eyes and said, “Mom, in the school they tell us it’s okay to makes mistakes; mistakes are for learning.”
As an EHR software solutions consultant, I often find myself in the role of educator, instructor, advisor, and motivator for new concepts. Whether these changes are due to software version upgrades or in response to the ever-changing regulatory shifts such as MU, PQRS, and Payment Reform, the challenge remains the same. How can organizations deliver the most efficient and practical educational experience to providers who don’t have the luxury of time to dedicate to classroom study? What is the most effective way to provide training that facilitates successful retention?
The Learning Pyramid[i] was researched and created by the National Training Laboratories in Bethel, Maine. It demonstrates that active participation in the learning process results in higher learning retention. Practice by Doing registers a 75% retention rate. This shows that when a learner is performing hands-on tasks and naturally making mistakes, the brain is engaged to learn how to correct the mistake. This reinforces the learning process. Learning by passive methods of lecture, reading, and demonstration have a much lower retention rate. This is because the brain is passively participating and not fully engaged. The brain needs the challenge of the mistake to concentrate, take notice, and process the learning.
Online training is a viable option which addresses the unique challenges of a 24/7/365 work environment. I’ve found that providing a guided tutorial complements the material to be reviewed. It lends itself quite nicely to encouraging the hands-on learning experience. Dedicating a training environment which users can access at their convenience gives the students, in this case the providers, the opportunity to review the new material at their own pace, timeframe, and without clinical interruptions. This allows providers to focus on the new concepts and sharpen their skills. Also, it provides a private opportunity for hands-on learning, mistakes included, thus solidifying the lesson.
That sage advice from a 10-year-old is still with me today. I have come to believe that yes, indeed it is true. Thank you 3rd grade for lending your wisdom to my son, myself, and all those that have come in contact with your wisdom.