Brain-Based Learning Strategies

brain based learning strategies
Robert (Bob) W. Lucas, Author, Facilitator, and Performance consultant

Brain-Based Learning Strategies

In 2013 in June, Robert (Bob) W. Lucas hosted two events for the Metro DC ASTD Chapter in Washington, DC (Tapping the Brain for Learning and Brain-Based Learning Strategies).

The sessions focused on how the brain learns and some of the research that has been done related to applying color, sound, motion, novelty, learner engagement and other strategies to enhance learning environments and potentially increase opportunities for learners to gain, retain, recall and use what they learn.

On the 26th, he provided insights at the chapter’s dinner meeting in a session titled: Tapping the Brain for Learning.  This session explored many ideas, brain-based concepts, and techniques that can be used to enhance virtually any training program or presentation topic.

At the end of the session, and when applying concepts learned, participants were able to:

a.  Facilitate creative training programs and presentations that can help induce behavior change and are FUN.

b.  Identify, make, or obtain inexpensive materials that add spark to training programs and presentations.

c.  Increase interaction with participants.

d.  Review program concepts throughout your sessions in order to get an interim check of learning before the program ends.

e.  Create memorable techniques for adding excitement and sizzle to programs so that participants keep coming back.

Brain-Based Learning Strategies Training – Past Success by Robert W. Lucas

On June 27th, Bob facilitated a one-day workshop titled: Strategies to Make Your Learning Events Sizzle. In this event, participants experienced dozens of creative training techniques based on brain research related to how the brain best learns and retains information. These strategies presented that day were meant to be immediately applied in their own learning events. They covered many training workshop essentials for typing in research to learning.

Bob went on to expand upon some of the ideas addressed in the previous night’s program. Therefore, the additional information through a variety of experiential opportunities in which participants hear about a concept, see it demonstrated and then have an opportunity to try or discuss it. They did also discuss how they might use the strategies to strengthen their own learning events.

At the end of the program, participants were able to:

  • Create training environments that stimulate learning.
  • Incorporate the latest learning brain research into their training design and delivery.
  • Design learning events that result in higher levels of attention and retention.
  • Use techniques and strategies experienced in their own learning events.
  • Add pizzazz and novelty to their learning events.
  • Immediately apply what they learned.

Creative Brain-Based Training Review Activities

Creative Brain-Based Training Review Activities

Training review activities are essential for learning to occur. By experiencing information multiple times through multiple senses, the brain is more likely to retain it and create memories. This is because engaging learners is a crucial component of the adult learning process and ties to brain-based learning research. If possible, this engagement must start as learners enter the classroom or before so that they become an active participant rather than a passive bystander. This is one of the basic elements of adult and brain-based learning.

Creative Brain-Based Training Review Activities by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Brain-Based Training Author

People must be involved in the learning process in order to gain, retain, recall, and use what they experience. Unlike children, who often have little intrinsic motivation to be in the classroom and little previous knowledge or experience from which they can extract meaning and assimilate new information, adults typically want to be present and learn. They often seek new knowledge and skills that they can immediately apply on the job or in their life.

Brain research on learning indicates that long-term memories are formed when multiple senses capture sensory data and the brain assimilates the new information or matches it with existing knowledge. To help accomplish this when you are training adults look for ways to tap into various sensory channels by designing and developing creative learning environments that contain elements such as, color, sound, images, motion, smells, novelty, movement, and physical activity. Also learn to tap into the multiple intelligences that Howard Gardner identified in his research.

Additionally, you can encourage the retention of key concepts and information through the use of repetition. For example, consider building in some form of review activity every 15-20 minutes to hold attention and reinforce what has been shared. By using these interim reviews rather than waiting until the end of a session, you enhance the possibility that your learners will walk away with more useful knowledge and skills.

Some easy interim review activities include the following: Creative Brain-Based Training Review Activities

Plastic Egg review.

Create strips of paper with different key ideas or concepts covered in the session up to that point on each one. Next, place one strip inside small plastic eggs of various colors (the type used in children’s Easter baskets). When you are ready to review, pass around a basket or box with these in it and have volunteers take one egg. Once all eggs are distributed, ask for volunteers to stand, open their egg, and read what is on their strip of paper.

Ask for anyone else in the room to define or explain the idea or concept. Reward the volunteer who answers correctly, and then repeat the process until all eggs have been opened. A variation of this is to use various colored balloons placed on the wall before the session and have them retrieved and popped by volunteers for the review.

This type of training review activity involves brain-based learning concepts of fun, novelty, repetition (review), color, sound (if using balloons) movement and learner engagement addressed in books like The Creative Training Idea Book.

How I’ll Use It.

When ready to review training session content, have learners turn to another participant and share one key concept learned thus far and how they plan to use it.

Creative Brain-based Training Review Activities

What If?

Depending on the session topic, use a What if? activity in which, at some point, you have each person take out a piece of paper and write “What If?” at the top of the page. Next have finished the statement with some key ideas or concepts learned in the session that they could immediately apply to their job or life.

Share the Knowledge.

In this review activity you have a volunteer team leader start by writing one key idea or concept learned up until that point in the session, then passing the paper to their left. Subsequent learners repeat the process until everyone has contributed something. Let them know before starting that it is okay to cheat and look at their notes if they cannot think of something to add. After everyone has written something have the leader lead a discussion on which item the group believes to me most significant and discuss why they believe this to be true. Allow 5 minutes for this process, then, have each team leader share the item their team selected with the rest of the groups. Reward team leaders with a small prize or piece of candy.


As you just read, training does not have to be boring or tedious. Think of ways to make your learning events come alive and engage your learners while reinforcing ideas and concepts. Make sure that you build in time for training review activities to reinforce session content. This will help your learners retain what they experienced and facilitate the potential that they will ultimately use their new knowledge and skills once they leave the classroom.

If you liked what you read, consider getting a copy of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners and Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People for hundreds of other creative training techniques, ideas, and activities.