Art Kohn, Ph.D. is a professor, writer, and consultant in the area of corporate training, organizational development, eLearning, and performance improvement. Art earned his Ph.D. in cognitive science at Duke University and his research explores how to present information in order to maximize learning and memory. He was awarded the National Early Career Professor of the Year award from the American Psychological Association. He also won a Fulbright Fellowship in cognitive psychology and a rare second Fulbright Fellowship in distance education. He is listed in Who's Who in the World, and he consults with the Centers for Disease Control on using social messaging for addressing HIV in the developing world. He is the author of Communicating with Psychology.
Art is the CEO of AKLearning which has produced more than 1,000 online training courses using interactive television. Art has been a professional actor, both on stage and screen, and an NCAA umpire (Big 10 and ACC), and he and his family are avid travelers. He has spoken at dozens of commercial and academic conferences in more than 40 countries, and is a popular keynote speaker.
Today’s learners have little tolerance for two-day lecture courses (or two-hour lectures, for that matter). In reaction, many organizations are now wondering about micro-training: short bursts of training that fit into 10 minutes or less. Is this reaction justified by claims that goldfish now have longer attention spans than people?
There is good news. Very good news. The fact is that we already know what needs to be done in order to promote increased retention and transfer of learning. One hundred years of scientific research in learning and cognitive psychology has already demonstrated the processes that produce this result, and they all have something in common. Read on to find out what that is.
Mention “assessment” and many of us think of “tests,” and of the associated anxiety. This can taint our thinking about evaluation within the corporate environment. But in fact assessment is a valuable tool that can aid improvement in learning and in business results. Here is a quick review of the benefits.
Is it possible that your training is having no effect on learners, or worse, that it is actually detrimental to the good of the company? The answer is, “Yes, it is possible,” and until you conduct systematic assessment you will have no idea whether you are really helping your organization reach its goals. Here is some help from research.
Brain Science: Can Training Change Your Corporate Culture? March 19, 2015
Some scandalous questions: What are the odds that your eLearning, by itself, will succeed at changing behavior? Put another way, “Does education matter?” Will teaching people new information really get them to behave in new ways? Art reveals some research that lay hidden for years, although it opens insights into what does and does not cause groups of people to change their behavior.
Brain Science: Language and Its Many Meanings January 15, 2015
It can happen that, in a class or in a discussion, people get into arguments and disagreements that keep everyone from making progress. Even worse, instead of learning, people only get frustrated, unhappy, and unproductive. Frequently, it turns out that the problem was that each person was using a particular word in a different way. Here’s a simple exercise to help get past this.
Brain Science: Are Learning Styles Valid? December 17, 2014
During the last 30 years, the notion of learning styles has become popular in corporate training. This month’s column explores the concept of learning styles and examines the evidence about its pedagogical effectiveness.
Brain Science: Pre-training Is Essential to a Complete Training Package November 13, 2014
When the long-term training goal is retention and transfer of skills and knowledge, effective instructional design recognizes that certain key activities before and after a learning event (including eLearning and mLearning as well as instructor-led learning) are more important to success than what happens during the learning event. This article explains what pre-training is and its benefits.
Brain Science: The Ultimate Mission of a Teacher October 16, 2014
What is your goal as a teacher, an instructional designer, a training manager? What is the single aim of all teaching? This month’s column moves from research to application in the service of making a better world.
Brain Science: Should Learning Be Easy? How Effortful Processing Improves Retention September 17, 2014
For many instructional designers and teachers, one finding from research is so puzzling that they reject it immediately: that infusing training with strategic difficulties and challenges dramatically improves the learner’s long-term retention. Shouldn’t learning be easy? This month, Professor Kohn looks at the research and begins the discussion of how to apply it.
Brain Science: The Visual System and Learning August 14, 2014
Neuroscience has learned a lot about the way that the brain processes visual information. This article provides insights into the two distinct visual systems that operate concurrently and independently. Understanding these systems and how they work will provide instructional designers with important information bearing on ways to increase comprehension, retention, and transfer.
Brain Science: Writing So the Brain Understands July 17, 2014
Much of what we communicate in eLearning and other kinds of teaching relies on the written word. Many instructional designers worry that learners may be poor readers and so try to “write down to their level.” Is this the right approach? Is reading ability even a problem? Or is the problem our approach to writing? Here are some guidelines that may surprise you.
Brain Science: Focus–Can You Pay Attention? June 12, 2014
Researchers have reported that the average attention span of American adults has dropped, possibly to even as little as five minutes. Is this due, as other researchers suggest, to changes in the human brain, brought about by modern technologies such as television and the Internet? Maybe, maybe not. Art opens a discussion of what we know about helping people pay attention.
In his recent columns, Art has explained the nature of memory and ways to change the shape of the “forgetting curve.” In this column, he adds another important technique for overcoming forgetting: boostering.
Brain Science: Overcoming the Forgetting Curve April 10, 2014
It is a painful fact that employees quickly forget most of what they learn in training. The forgetting curve quickly erodes the benefit of the instruction—that is, unless you know the secret of the “booster”! Here is a simple way, proven through research, to improve memory and behavior change following instruction.
We try to design training, including eLearning, so that people will remember what they learn and apply it to the workplace. But people forget half the information that instruction presents within an hour, and 90 percent of it within a week. Can a designer do anything about this? Read what neuroscience knows about why we forget—the foundation for understanding how to deal with it.
Brain Science: The Neuroscience of Teaching and Learning February 20, 2014
The human brain is enormously powerful. It contains and controls our memories, our passions, our thinking, and our learning. Successful eLearning applications must work in a way that is compatible with the way the brain learns. Today we introduce a new column that will explore what neuroscience is finding out about the way the 100 billion nerve cells in the brain function!