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Driving Learning and Development Through Themes

When the word “theme” is brought up, what is the image that comes to your mind? To some, it may be the catchy National Day songs that are linked to the theme for that particular year. To others, it may be the theme of a memorable advertising campaign. Notice how the tagline of the campaign already starts forming in your mind without us mentioning what it is specifically? That’s precisely why themes are so widely used in our daily lives, from education, to advertising and even literature. Themes create an overarching focus that makes it easier for our brains to recall them, be it consciously or subconsciously. Autobiological memory research has shown that our brains are primed to group events into clusters with a common theme, so that when one memory of a general event is recalled, it cues the recall of other related events in memory.

Besides assisting in memory reassociation, themes also help to facilitate learning outcomes. Research into the psychology of learning has shown that learning is a process of integration. When one learns through a theme, one is learning in context. This not only helps one to understand what one is learning, but also helps one to integrate skills into specific contexts.

Incorporating Themes into Learning & Development (L&D)

Thematic learning has the potential to play a huge role in learning and development (L&D) efforts. One way which you can incorporate themes into your company’s L&D programmes is through crafting lessons around a certain topic over a period of time, say, three months. The end-goal is to achieve repetition, the first principle of learning which deepens the engagement process and speeds up the transition of a skill from the conscious to the subconscious mind.

To maximise the effectiveness of thematic learning, employers should select themes that are relevant and current to their company’s or employees’ development. A common theme that has been gaining traction in L&D of late is that of leadership, more specifically, getting people leaders to take an active role in employee development. This is because empowering people leaders to help employees on their continuous learning journey is rapidly becoming a priority. The statistics tell it all: nearly three-quarters (74%) of employees who felt empowered to take charge of their own careers say that their manager provides coaching and supports their development.

Driving Thematic Learning Through Different Training Methods

However, thematic learning does not necessarily mean that there can be no variation in instruction. Employers are highly encouraged to change the type of learning method to ensure that employees remain engaged throughout. Typical training delivery methods include instructor-led training, virtual classrooms and digital learning.

There can be no doubt that thematic learning is here to stay for the foreseeable future. By organising material in a structured manner that makes it easily digestible for both beginners and advanced learners alike, thematic learning may just hold the key to the future of learning and development. Don’t believe us? Ask yourself what exactly it was about your favourite timeless advertising campaign or National Day song that left an indelible mark on you even till today.

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