Emotional Learning: Why Companies Need To Recognize The Importance Of Emotion In Their Chosen Training Methods

The Importance Of Emotional Learning In Corporate Training
Summary: A positive emotional response to learning aids the retention of information to people's long-term memory banks for recall and use in the future. In this article I will explain how emotional learning can not only boost memory retention, but also enhance the virtual training experience.

The Importance Of Emotional Learning In Corporate Training

Building on an early career in fast-moving retail operational management, I first became passionate about unlocking the potential in people and all things related to learning and development in the late 1980’s. I firmly believe that to be truly effective and sustainable, the learning environment must be creative, focused, fun and engaging, and above all, practical.

Many business management theories and models may offer us great insights, however the vital tipping point for everyone is “How can I use it?” or “How does this solve that problem?”. And without the answers, little of any real value will be taken away from pretty much any training session.

Since forming Creativedge Training in 2001, I have continued to uphold my belief in making learning more accessible, keep things simple (less is so often more) and offer people flexibility and choice in how they learn and the environments in which they learn. It was out of the “less is more; take the best, leave the rest” principle that the Creativedge 90 Minute “Bite-Sized” Training method was first created over 14 years ago. Why did I choose this particular approach to delivering training? I was compelled by it because the intensive, focused sessions take full advantage of our optimum period of concentration, allowing information to not only be rapidly absorbed, but more importantly, to stick! How so? Let me explain.

Brain-based reports by the Neuro Leadership Institute give a scientific, quantifiable perspective on how people think, develop, and perform when they learn. They also give tremendous scientific insight on the value played by emotions when we learn, and as such how emotions should be taken into account in the learning environment. And by a learning “environment” I mean the method(s) used to deliver learning, be that classroom style or virtual training, both of which I shall refer to below.

Part Played By Emotion

The compelling 2014 NeuroLeadership report, which updates the 2010 AGES model report, hones in on the emotional aspect of the learning experience and how moderate levels of positive emotional arousal can actually enhance memory retention and enable greater social collaboration, which in turn aids learning. The 2014 report refers to “the executive flown in for the 9-5 learning event” who may feel frustration and irritation at being away from emails, the office etc., and ultimately feels pulled in so many directions. This type of emotion can distract from the positive impact of learning. The Creativedge bite-size classroom sessions were designed more than 14 years ago to accommodate these exact same circumstances. As such, they were specifically designed to be interactive, fast-moving, and engaging in order that participants would retain and immediately apply all information learned during the session afterwards and in the future. A key value of our training method is the ability to deliver a high impact program in a condensed 90 minute time frame, thereby ensuring people can quickly return to “their day job”.

One of the other interesting points highlighted in the same article is the part played by “spacing”, i.e. having space between learning and review sessions. Our classroom sessions allow and encourage participants to revisit our programs in the future and at their leisure.

The exact same principles also apply to a successful virtual training environment.

In order for virtual training to work successfully, it is key for participants to have meaningful, interactive, fast-moving sessions that also provide a chance to network and engage with other participants. When various multimedia elements like video and audio clips, infographics and animations, mini-games, fun and relevant polling questions are all added into the mix, then participants are able to enjoy an engaging and exciting learning environment that in so doing also helps to extend  their  capacity to improve performance and thinking. This can be evidenced when we evaluate our clients after the work we do with them.

With many years’ experience working with many different companies, I have seen at first hand people’s emotional responses to what they are learning. When emotional learning is ignored, that is if the information they perceive in the learning environment fails to elicit response, it will fail to be perceived as meaningful and will therefore have little chance of being selected into long-term memory banks and be recalled and used in the future.