It is pretty well known (or should be) that cramming is one of the most inefficient methods of preparing for a test. We tell our students they shouldn’t cram. That they shouldn’t wait for the last minute to prepare for a test. Or prepare for an assignment. Yet they do it anyway and we become frustrated as instructors.
But what about us cramming? Are we as instructors cramming as well? Let me give an example. It’s time for you to prepare your section on legal update for annual training. You’ve been providing legal update training for your agency for years. And each year you have been afforded six hours of time to complete this training – and you’ve made those six hours work.
But this year, because of staffing shortages, call volume, etcetera, etcetera, you’re only allotted four hours of time. Ideally what we should be doing is utilizing blended learning to make up for the other two hours of lost time. But that’s not what most of us do.
In fact, most of us simply take the six hours of material and cram it into four. We are cramming information into a time slot that doesn’t fit. And if it doesn’t fit for the teacher, you can rest assured it is not going to fit for the student. Yet we do that because we work within these arbitrary boxes (I hear you Brian Willis) and we fail to remember the mission. We fail to remember the entire purpose behind providing training. And that purpose is to influence or change behavior. There are studies according to brain centric that says that when material is not properly constructed, that nearly 80% of that information is lost within the first hour after the training has been provided – 80%!
So if we take that alarming statistic and we make it even worse. How much is actually being retained? How much is available for our people to use at the time that they need it most – which is when they encounter one of those situations where it’s relevant? We make the loss of knowledge, the loss of material, the loss of information much, much worse because we, the instructors, cram information.
Cramming is a horrible way to study! We talk about this in our Transformational Trainer class. We explain that cramming probably the worst way in which to prepare for any type of test. It’s made worse when the instructors cram as well. Be sure that the amount of material you are presenting is appropriate for the amount of time you’ve been allotted. If it’s not, then something has to give. We either (A) have to lobby for additional time (B) we have to reduce the amount of information that we are going to provide or (C) we have to utilize blended learning which allows us to get the appropriate amount material presented in the appropriate amount of time. By the way the correct answer is “C.” “C” in this case does not stand for cramming. Allot the appropriate amount of time. Develop the appropriate amount of material. Make it a proper fit.