What is the Forgetting Curve?

The Forgetting Curve

In a food safety training context, the Forgetting Curve displays that learners forget an average of 90% of what they have learned within the first month.

Research material by Dr. John Wittmans (CSU Stanislaus)

Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909) was a German psychologist who founded the experimental psychology of memory. Ebbinghaus’ research was groundbreaking at the time, and his work (though he was not a proliferate writer) was generally well-received.

In recognition of his work in psychology, the “forgetting curve”—the loss of learned information—is sometimes referred to as the “Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve.”

The graph [below] shows the process by which forgetting occurs. According to this research, people tend to forget rather quickly after learning material then forgetting slowly levels out. The implications of this for college students is obvious—a day or two after attending class or reading a chapter or article, students will have forgotten approximately 75% of what was learned. Moreover, most of that forgetting happens within the first hour.

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve

However, although the forgetting curve is a natural process, the process itself can be disrupted. That is, although it is natural for people to forget much of what they have learned immediately following an experience, simple processes can be used to slow down forgetting and to help us retain much of the information we will need to recall at a later date (such as test time).

Take, for example, the chart [below]. The green line shows the hypothetical place where the forgetting curve would start if we had the ability to “remember everything after a lecture.” The blue line shows where the forgetting curve actually starts— around 75%. 

How we forget what we have learned The Forgetting Curve

Now take a look at the red line. This line shows a dramatic increase in memory if students review material. Unfortunately, it also shows that without additional intervention one day after material is learned content is lost, and one week after, recall is almost as if the review never happened at all. So, is there a way to maintain the initial recall after review? Yes, you simply have to keep at it. While an initial review of material will help you remember in the short term, reviewing material multiple times and at different intervals will help you retain it for much longer.

The chart [below] shows how the review affects memory. You can see that every time you review material you both retain much more information, and your forgetting curve steadies out at a much higher level. Each time you review material you take much more away. Research indicates that the minimum amount of review is three.

Overcome the Forgetting Curve via ongoing Learning using Customised Food Safety Explainer Videos

Here is how Food Safe Passport can assist you in retaining information and beating The Forgetting Curve.

Our purpose-built Customised Explainer Videos are specifically for companies with Non-Conformances, Product-on-Hold, and where Operator and Temporary Staff competency skills are costing money and valuable time as a result of re-work, down-grades, and dumping.

The Visualised Explainer Videos suit all learner styles including autistic, dyslexic, and literacy-challenged individuals. The videos ensure every member on the team understands Operator Verification (how, when, what, when, and why we do things).

The videos offer the ability for operators and staff to watch and learn several times, thereby increasing memory retention from 60% to 90% plus. This ensures that Non-Conformances are greatly reduced, and that valuable time and money are not lost.

View our custom-built service here.

Share this content