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Mobile Assessments Part 3 : Use quizzes or individual questions on mobile phones to help employees retain learning

Everyone in the SAP Community needs to learn as technology changes. This short article explains how people retain learning in memory if they practice recalling it or if they are exposed to it many times over a period. Questions delivered on mobile phones can be effective to do this.


There are two powerful findings from cognitive psychology research on learning that make using mobile learning particularly interesting. 

Graph of spaced vs massed learningThe first of these is that people learn much more from spaced out repetitions than from massed learning.  For instance if you spend 15 minutes learning something once a day for 4 days, you will remember it much better than if you spend an hour learning it just once. 

There is a lot of research showing the benefits of spacing. The graph to the right is from a 2009 paper by Nate Kornell at the Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, which shows the results of learning some difficult word pairs massed (all at one time) vs spaced four times.

And you can see that recollection was much improved by spacing out the learning. Learning the words over a period of time improved retention as against learning all in one session.

The other powerful finding is that practicing recalling or retrieving something helps you retain it in memory. Answering questions on something is a great way to keep something in memory and not forget it. I blogged about this effect earlier under the title How to remember what you’ve learned (at SAP TechEd and everywhere).

The combination of these means that if you want people to learn and retain something, it’s a great idea to ask them questions (which give retrieval practice and prevent you forgetting) and to do so at periodic time intervals (to get the benefits of spacing).

So mobile phones, which are with your learners all their waking life are a great opportunity to reinforce learning by using these two effects.

You can send questions in a variety of ways:

  • Using quiz software or apps (e.g. from Questionmark or other vendors)
  • Send questions by text message or voicemail
  • Use email to send questions to remind on key points
  • Use Twitter to ask questions which will prompt the recall 

With technology changing fast, we all of us have a need to learn and to retain information after learning, and we also need to help our colleagues retain the information we pass on. I hope this idea might help you think of ways you can apply it in your organization.

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  • i think John Moy has already taken care of the quizz format in his Uber geek app. another app that i have found useful in the past is CHMate that converts files into a mobile format with minimum “cleansing” work.

    @greg_not_so (no tweet)