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The 70/20/10 Learning Model: What Makes It Work

Learning based on the 70/20/10 rule succeeds in improving workplace behaviors while traditional training rarely does.

Most traditional health sciences training consists of 10% practical application, reinforcement and coaching in the workplace, 20% practical exercises and immediate practice using case studies, and 70% factual content through classroom presentations. This proportional breakdown is known as the 10/20/70 learning model and likely sounds familiar. It also usually fails to change behavior. New behaviors and learning must be reinforced immediately after the session or they’ll be forgotten.

Changing Behavior Begins With the 70/20/10 Learning Model

At NSF, we offer educational courses that help our clients become more competitive and more successful, not traditional training that is seen as a compliance-driven cost center. Our skilled learning experts focus on improving behaviors in the workplace — and improving understanding of the why, not just the how — with the 70/20/10 model:

  • 70% experiential — practical application, reinforcement and coaching in the workplace
  • 20% practical exercises using case studies
  • 10% factual content — just the basics

The difference between 70/20/10 and 10/20/70 is the difference between education and training. And we apply the 70/20/10 rule wherever possible in our life science courses.

A 70/20/10 Case Study: Education in Deviation and CAPA

One of our clients, concerned by unacceptably high levels of repeat deviations, conducted its own training course on root cause investigations. The result of this 10/20/70 training approach? Nothing improved. The number of repeat incidents continued to grow.

The company called on NSF to take a different approach. Twelve months after completing our education in deviation, as well as in CAPA (corrective and preventive action), repeat incidents had fallen by 35%. The behaviors of deviation investigators have dramatically improved, as have teamwork, respect for each other and the delivery of scientifically justifiable rationales for key decisions. This is how we did it:

The 10%

We covered the factual content very quickly using high levels of interaction and engagement.

The 20%

Next, we moved to the practical application of this knowledge. We had created, in collaboration with the client, realistic case studies and practical problem-solving exercises—exercises in which participants solved their own deviations. When they struggled, we introduced a new problem-solving method. After each exercise, we presented the model answer and participants shared what they did well and what they’ll do differently next time. In all, they practiced and refined these tools and techniques on each of the remaining 12 case studies until they had become virtually automatic.

Throughout the course, our tutors provided constructive feedback and coaching. Participants received and used investigation templates, along with a very simple, structured problem-solving process. The group also agreed to “Five Golden Rules” for deviation investigations.

The 70% That Matters

Participants reinforced in the workplace what they practiced in the classroom. Deviation investigations and reports completed by participants were reviewed and feedback provided. A high standard was set, monitored and reinforced so that it became second nature.

Ready to Give Your Team the Benefits of 70/20/10 Education?

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