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  • Writer's pictureAdrian Kingsford

How Does Coaching Support The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve?

With the recent release of the World of Learning by one of my strategic partners, New Level Results, an investment to fully round the beast in terms of learning and development, I wondered how their World of Coaching might complement the effect of the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve following a training course, and allow the learning from the training to be better retained and put to better use over the longer term, maximising the investment in the training.

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve refers to our declining ability to recall learned information, and that it dwindles over time if not used regularly or reinforced through repetitive practice, particularly in the short term following the training, but over a longer period as well. This is sometimes why people refer to training as 'sheep-dipping', where you attend a course and learn some stuff, but then go back to your job, getting absorbed into the daily routine without having the time to implement what you've just learned and turn that knowledge into a skill - effectively you lose it if you don't use it!

Information is better retained when it is reviewed or practiced multiple times, with spaced intervals between each review or practice. Interacting perfectly with a coaching programme, where regular sessions with your coach include time for reflection, learning reviews, and the promotion of thoughts about what you've learned and what to try next.

Coaching can help overcome the effects of the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve in the following ways:

Structured Learning Plans

Coaches can help individuals create a structured learning plan that incorporates spaced repetition techniques. By scheduling regular review sessions, spaced out over time, individuals can reinforce their memory and retention of information.


Coaches can hold individuals accountable for sticking to their learning schedules. Regular check-ins and progress evaluations ensure that learners are consistently reviewing and practicing the material, mitigating the effects of forgetting.

Customised Approach

Coaches can tailor learning strategies based on an individual's learning style and preferences. Some people might benefit from visual aids, while others may prefer verbal explanations. Coaches can identify the most effective methods for each individual, enhancing their retention.

Feedback and Reinforcement

Coaches can provide feedback on the learner's progress, identifying areas of improvement and reinforcing the information that needs more attention. Positive reinforcement and constructive feedback can enhance the learning process and improve memory retention.

Motivation and Goal Setting

Coaches can help individuals set realistic goals. Working towards specific objectives can motivate learners to consistently review and practice, preventing the decay of memory (in the context of the forgetting curve).

Stress Reduction

Learning new information can be overwhelming, leading to stress, which can negatively impact memory retention. Coaches can provide emotional support and teach stress-reduction techniques, ensuring that learners are in the right mindset for effective learning and retention.

Active Learning Techniques

Coaches can introduce active learning techniques, such as discussions, problem-solving activities, and quizzes, which engage learners and reinforce their understanding of the material. Active participation enhances memory retention and counteracts the forgetting curve.

Encouraging Reflection

Coaches can encourage individuals to reflect on what they have learned. Reflective practices, like journaling or discussions, can reinforce memory and improve long-term retention by solidifying the learned material in the learner's mind.

By incorporating these coaching strategies, individuals can effectively counter the effects of the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve and improve their ability to retain and recall information over time.

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve looks like this:

The New Level Results Coaching Curve looks like this:

As you can see, the curves effectively work in opposition to each other, but if coaching is introduced at the right points, you can ensure the continued use of the learning and realise the benefit from the training, using more learned knowledge, practising it to turn it into a skill, and then working with others to put the skills to good use.

The effective combination of the Curves looks like this, where the intersection of coaching at the right point can mean that forgetting is minimised, and put into practice before it's too late:

So now I think we have that covered, it really comes down to making sure you have the right learning through the right training in the first place. Having a training or personal development plan that aligns to your personal and business goals, aspirations, and requirements is key to that, but probably not enough by itself.

I think coaching can provide a way to help you put that learning to good use as a skill, and help you achieve transformational successful outcomes.

Let's talk about the courses available through the World of Learning and the support available through the World of Coaching, and how the combination of both can benefit you, your teams, and your business.

Thanks for reading.

Please share and comment below, and do let me know how I can help.

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