(3) Relearn. In Army training, relearning is frequently done just before the
SDT testing. This is especially needed by those whose regular assignments have not
included the skills being tested. In all instances, relearning is both easier for the learner
and quicker than the initial learning. This is true regardless of the time interval since the
initial instruction was given. Even if the learner does not recall any part of the original
instruction, there will be some savings in both time required to relearn the skill and in
the amount of effort required of the learner.
(1) Rate of forgetting. Forgetting is a product of the passage of time. Up to
forty percent of the learned material is forgotten during the first few hours after
completing the last practice. After the first day, the forgetting curve is more gradual,
and by the end of the third day, the curve becomes very gradual. A typical forgetting
curve is shown in figure 2-2. Forgetting never becomes complete. The rate at which
the material is learned makes no difference to the rate of forgetting. A fast learner and
a slow learner both have the same rate of forgetting.
Figure 2-2. Typical forgetting curve.
(2) Amount of forgetting. The degree of mastery does affect the forgetting
rate. The greater the degree of mastery, the greater the retention. This principle
explains why people in their senior years who were proficient at bicycle riding in their
childhood find it relatively easy to take up the sport anew. Over-learning past the
mastery level results in only small additions to the amount of material retained past the
initial forgetting curve. A better way to hold on to a high rate of skill is to space practice
every two or three days. This kind of procedure is used by some professional athletes
and others who make their livelihood by virtue of their skill mastery.