While this law sounds like a western horror film about a ghost sheriff, I assure you that no sheriffs were hurt in the making of this blog. Let’s take a trip back in time. Do you remember when you were in school? For some of you, I’m actually asking that question – do you remember? You were pretty wild back then and it might just be a blur. For the rest of us who actually remember school, think back on taking the dreaded “finals” or final exams. Everyone, including me, was cramming in as much studying (along with as much coffee, Jolt Cola and/or NoDoz) as humanly possible the week (or night) before the exam. Most of the time you just concentrated on things taught much earlier in the semester because the recent material was much easier to remember. So basically what I’m saying is what you had last seen in class was much easier to recall than what you covered weeks, even months ago. Therein lies the root of the Law of Last Seen (AKA the Law of Recency in some circles - but this is an updated version and slightly different take on it).
The gist of this law is simple. All things being equal, that which was last seen is best remembered. If I trained you on a task last week, then I trained you on a second task this week and tested you on both tasks, which do you think you would remember more easily? If you said the second set, the one you had just learned recently, you are right. We always remember the things we that were taught more recently.
So you may be asking “How do we apply this to our training program John?” Great question random reader. In order for us to convert short term memory into long term memory we need repetition and time. It’s science! So if we want to make sure the important items in training are last seen, in order to be remembered, it means we have to review that information often during and after the training occurs. This is where the law of repetition works hand in hand with this law. This is why you should review items from training the previous day first, then go on to the new topic. Then review both and move on to the next topic. It allows you to keep bringing important information to be covered recently so that it stays in their mind and converts to long term memory.
If we’d have all known this during school, we might have actually studied all along the way so that when it came time for exams, we wouldn’t have to cram for the test. We’d already know the information. Although trying to tell a teenager anything is impossible so we probably would have argued why this information isn’t true for our generation and that our parents just don’t understand. Did I mention that I have a teenager? Anyway, in keeping with the theme of this blog I think it’s imperative that I remind you that training binders do, indeed, suck and you should stop making them immediately, if not sooner. Thanks for reading, have a great day and make it count!