The 7 (yes I said 7) Laws of Learning

May 25, 2012 | 414 Views

The 7 (yes I said 7) Laws of Learning

John Isbell

Director of Learning & Development | Portillos Hotdogs, Inc.

Let's face it - in the training world everyone constantly wants to change the way we do things.  We have to have the latest and greatest technology, tools and techniques.  We change more times than Lady Gaga at one of her concerts.  (writer's note - I was going to say Cher but then realized I might have some readers saying "Chaz Bono's mom was a singer?!")  But - no matter how many new things we want and need - the basics of learning never change.  So, to that end, I thought I'd give a quick review of the 7 laws of learning.   This is really the whole basis for my training style & philosophy:

  1. Law of Exercise:  That which is most often repeated is best remembered.  Yes that's right, the Law of Exercise says that which is most often repeated is best remembered.  Also - the law of exercise states that which is most often repeated is best remembered.  And did I mention that the law of exercise states that which is most often repeated is best remembered?  You get the picture...
  2. Law of Recency:  All things being equal - the last thing taught will be best remembered.  Which is why the Law of Exercise is also so important.  If you teach something early on and it isn't built upon or repeated later, it won't be remembered.
  3. Law of Primacy:  Teach it right the first time.  It is waaaaaaay harder to unlearn something so make it easy on your learners - teach it right the first time so they don't have to try to relearn something.
  4. Law of Readiness:  Confucius said "When the pupil is ready, the master will appear".  What my man Con-fuse was trying to say is that if a student/trainee/learner isn't ready to receive the knowledge - then they are not going to learn it.  Send out teasers before hand with compelling reasons for taking certain training courses and also - make sure you are always giving the "why" along with the "how" when it comes to teaching new tasks.

    Did I mention that the law of exercise states that things most often repeated are best remembered?
  5. Law of Intensity:  Simply stated - stop just telling people stuff and hoping they get it.  You have to have real-world examples and exercises if you want learning to stick.  As often as possible have them learning in the environment they will actually be working in.  Use simulations as often as possible.  The more they are up and out of their seat the better they will learn.
  6. Law of Effect:  Here's a shocker - people learn better in a pleasant environment.  Make it fun.  Make it safe to make mistakes.  Make it a place people want to go to learn and be the best they can be and guess what - they will. 
  7. Law of Individuality: This law might be my favorite.  Every learner is different.  Every learner has a different learning style.  Best way to find out what that style is?  Ask them!  If they don't know (and sometimes they won't), there are on-line quizzes available out there that will help them figure out what their learning style is.  Some might like reading better - then have really great materials they can read.  Some might like watching better.  Have really great videos and examples for them to view.  Some might like to just jump in there and do it.  Well in that case - make sure you have really good learning objectives and checklists so your trainers can make sure they are hitting on all the points.  It's kind of like a Journey song - "Any way you want it that's the way you need it".  Give them what they need and they will stay with you for a long, long time.

Hope this helps us stay focused on the big picture - delivering usable tools, classes and information to our end users to help us be as profitable as we possibly can.  By the way - which law states that the things most often repeated are best remembered?

Thanks for stopping by,


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Comments (1)

  1. Jeremiah El:
    Apr 15, 2023 at 06:15 AM

    Very nice! Good stuff ‼️