BrainX 7MTF Blog

A conversation between the world's best educators, corporate trainers, and top researchers


Posted on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 @ 01:09 AM

Here is an example of one of the biggest ways a lack of emotional intelligence skills causes your company to lose winnable sales.

 Many sales reps are high in the Socializer Temperament Factor which comes across as energetic, talkative and very upbeat. While this personality naturally builds rapport with some people, when a Socializer rep encounters a prospect with the analytical, detail-oriented, Engineering temperament the following happens:

  1. Engineers are wary of Socializers, who they don’t perceive as serious enough, and therefore don’t accept what they say at face value. So, the Engineer continuously pushes back and asks for documentation and detail in what seems like a critical way.  Also, people with the Engineer temperament operate at a lower energy level compared to the Socializer and don’t respond in kind to the Socializer’s friendly chit-chat.
  2. The Engineer’s lower energy level and unwillingness to chit-chat make the Socializer feel that the prospect is unfriendly– which the Socializer takes personally. Combine this with the critical-sounding nature of the Engineer’s questions and the Socializer prematurely concludes that this person is unlikely to buy. You can almost hear the Socializer emotionally disengage as they disqualify the prospect in their mind, classify every additional minute with the prospect as a waste of time and end the call as soon as possible.

This lack of emotional intelligence costs you money for two reasons. First is the lost sale that could have been won if the salesperson simply understood how the Engineer type prefers to interact and adapted their communication and selling methods to what works with the Engineering temperament. Second is the lost referral sales because people with the Engineering temperament have credibility with others because of their critical analysis skills and love to tell others what they just purchased.

The Solution

The 7MTF System combines the world’s most accurate method for quickly identifying a customer’s temperament with training on how to adapt every part of your sales process to each customer’s temperament type.

The training is delivered on the intelligent BrainX online platform which personalizes training to each learner, prevents forgetting and creates mastery. Because we deliver the 7MTF training on the BrainX system, it comes with the BrainX 200% guarantee. The guarantee means you can test the 7MTF training against any other sales training, and if it doesn’t double the increase in sales produced by the other training, we will refund every dime you paid for our training.

Topics: Sales Training, Emotional Intelligence

The Truth About Sales Training

Posted on Fri, Aug 26, 2016 @ 03:08 AM

Research on how a salesperson’s core temperament influences their approach to learning shows that they fall the following learner types.

  1. Deliberate
  2. Competitive
  3. Distracted

This Blog article explains how to design sales training for each of the three types along with the single most important thing to know about sales training.

Deliberate: These are the people who did well in school because they felt an internal compulsion to do what they were expected to do. Therefore, from an early age they did their homework, studied for tests and completed assignments. Most curriculum developers and almost all designers of Learning Management Systems (LMS) fall into this category. Unfortunately, these people find it tough to understand the other two learner types. Therefore, they often design courses that only work for salespeople who share their Deliberate Learning Type. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of salespeople fall into the category of deliberate learner.

Competitive: Generally, this type of learner also does well in school. However, their primary motivation for completing school work is to achieve goals and outcompete others. This type will instantly stop using an online learning system and tune out of live training if they don’t see a direct connection to helping them increase sales and reach goals. They hate one-size-fits-all training that forces them to endure lessons on topics they have already mastered.

While the Competitive type is common in salespeople, it is far more common in senior sales leaders. This might explain why VP’s of sales tend to like sales competitions and gamification far more than the average salesperson. If you do use gamification, make sure most of the points are earned by demonstrating mastery and not by merely completing tasks. Otherwise, the Competitive Types will focus all their attention of earning points and winning, which has been shown to divert the brain’s attention away from learning. The result is lots of time and money wasted without any increases in sales performance.

Distracted – The largest percentage of salespeople fall into this category. This learner type always has the best intentions and is excited at the start of training; however, their natural tendencies to multitask and overload their schedule, along with how easily they are distracted, prevents them from logging into learning systems on a consistent basis. On the other hand, they find live training to be so unstimulating that they quickly start a game out of texting friends without being caught by the instructor.

The Distracted type often prides themselves on their ability to outsmart online learning systems and pass exams with the least amount of actual work. This means that they don’t learn anything, yet they are the first to say that the sales strategies taught in the course don’t work.

To succeed with the Distracted learner type, think about trying to talk to someone in a noisy room where you have to raise your voice, so it stands out above the other voices. This means no-excuses accountability and a motivation system that uses both carrot and stick in just the right portions to ensure the work gets done and the salesperson masters all the course content. 

The Single Most Important Thing To Know About Sales Training:

The most important thing with all three learner types is to eliminate the post-test as the measure of course completion. Let’s face it – prospects don’t ask multiple choice questions. Also, post tests are too easy to pass without actually mastering the course content. Instead use real world simulations or an evaluation of how well each salesperson is using the material taught in the course on actual sales calls. Then tell the sales managers that they will be held personally accountable for the learning success of their salespeople.

If you make these requirements clear up front, the first response will be massive complaining to test your resolve. However, once it is clear that you won’t accept anything less than the demonstration of true mastery, they will buckle down, complete the course, sales performance will increase, and you will earn a huge return on your investment in training.

In all fairness, you shouldn’t implement these requirements unless your learning system is capable of doing the following things.

  1. Replace  one-size-fits-all course design with personalized courses for each salesperson. This should be accomplished through the use of an intelligent assessment to figure out what each salesperson already knows and what they need to learn.
  2. Building personalized practice items like study questions and real world verbal simulations along with a personalized practice schedule that ensures each salesperson reaches mastery.
  3. Informs sales managers on a daily basis of who is making adequate progress in their courses and who needs extra motivation.
  4. A gamification system that adjusts to the three types of learners and gives points for mastery, not completing tasks.
  5. An automated system for using real world verbal simulations or actual call evaluations to determine if a salesperson has truly mastered the course material and their behavior has changed.
  6. A system that lets senior leadership know in real-time how much actual learning is taking place, so they don’t have to wait till courses are scheduled to be completed before knowing if everyone is doing what they should be doing.
  7. Finally, a system that helps managers use information about each salesperson’s core temperament to improve coaching effectiveness.

 The BrainX system does all of these things and much more.

Topics: Sales Training

The Most Dangerous Selling Myths - 1

Posted on Thu, Aug 18, 2016 @ 19:08 PM

Blind_Eye_000013920778XSmall.jpgDid you ever wonder how the practice of bloodletting (cutting open a vain of a sick person to drain some blood) ever got started and why doctors used the practice for so long.  (George Washington probably would have recovered if his doctors had not used bloodletting.) The answer is because someone had a plausible explanation for why it worked and sometimes patients did recover. This is the same way selling myths get started.  

For example, almost all the well-known sales trainers tell their followers to look at a prospect’s LinkedIn profile for personal things they have in common with the person and then to start the call by talking about these personal connections.  The problem is that this comes across as creepy or worse to many people.

Consider Steve Jobs - he appears to have been high in the Artist Temperament Factor which causes people to have a strong drive to create. These people feel very uncomfortable and instantly distrust salespeople who bring up personal things about them. For people with the Artist Temperament, the effective strategy is to open the call in a way that stimulates their imagination.

So how did the Personal Item Connection myth get started? It turns out that the only temperament type this works really well on is the high energy, highly verbal temperament type called the Socializer in the 7MTF System. They love to talk about personal items they have in common with other people. They are also overly friendly to everyone, which makes both you and your competitor think you have the inside track to an order. The vast majority of what I like to call "Stand-Up Sales Trainers" have Socializer as their dominant temperament factor. Given that this opening strategy feels right to them, they started teaching it as a universal one-size-fits all strategy.

The best research on temperament shows that there are 7 core temperament factors. These are taught in the 7MTF System along with the effective opening call strategy for each factor. If you use the wrong opening strategy, you create apprehension and distrust. This causes the prospect to be suspicious of everything you say from that point forward, which can kill a sale that could have been won.  If you have ever encountered a prospect who seemed to misinterpret everything you said and expressed a negative attitude throughout the presentation, chances are you blew the sale by the way you opened.

On the other hand, the right opening strategy will build rapport and the prospect will be open to trusting you and eventually liking you. Instead of seeking ways to prove you are wrong, their emotions are predisposed to trust what you are saying. You still have to conduct the rest of the sale in a professional way that molds to their temperament, but at least you have an engaged prospect to work with.

To learn more about how to quickly determine each person's dominant temperament factor and the ideal call opening strategy for each factor, read the tab on the 7MTF System or contact us for a free demonstration.

Topics: 7MTF

The Insane Closing Technique

Posted on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 @ 20:08 PM

SalesFlex_Interview_section_pic_-_84Small.jpgThe insanity close is using the same close on everyone or arbitrarily selecting a close from a list. Let’s use a different context to expose this insanity. Imagine you are sitting at a blackjack table in Vegas with a $10,000 bet on the table. The dealer lets you call your blackjack expert friend to ask if you should take another card. Instead of asking what cards you have already been dealt and what the dealer is showing, your friend says today is Tuesday and I never take another card on Tuesdays.

This is no different from a salesperson who, without regard for the prospect or situation, selects the Choice Close because it is the one the salesperson likes the best.  Research shows the Choice Close is very effective with people who have what is known as the Politician Temperament, who by nature love making decisions. However, the Choice Close almost always backfires with people who have the risk-averse Doublechecker Temperament.

 In fact, using the Choice Close on people with the Doublechecker Temperament is the equivalent of taking another card in blackjack when you already have a ten and a Jack and the dealer is showing 19. Since you are showing 20, the chances of you winning if you use the “Don’t Take another Card if you are showing over 19” strategy are 100%, while the chances of going bust if you use the strategy of “Take another Card in the hopes of getting a Blackjack” strategy are so high, that to do so, means that you are acting in an insane way or you are drunk.

So what about your company. Are you using the same close with everyone, or do you give your salespeople a list of possible closes without clear direction on which close to use in any given situation?  If so, you are not alone. A quick search on the phrase closing strategies returns over 28-thousand articles from people who explain up to 20 different closing strategies, yet none of them say with certainty which close to use in any given situation.

 The big news is that simply by training your salespeople to choose the close with the greatest odds of working in any given situation, you can instantly improve sales performance. Your odds of winning the sale skyrocket if you apply this same strategy selection method to each part of the sales process.

To learn more about how to easily train salespeople to select the right close in every situation, request a free demonstration of the 7MTF System and Training by clicking the following request button. 

Click Here To Schedule a Demonstration of the 7MTF System


Topics: Closing Techniques, Closing

Is Your Prospect a Donald Trump?

Posted on Mon, Aug 8, 2016 @ 14:08 PM

Donald_Trump.jpgPeople like Donald Trump are almost always exceptionally strong in a temperament factor that has a fancy psychological name but in the 7MTF Temperament Assessment is called the GoGetter. These people are normally very successful in business. The biggest mistake you can make with the GoGetter Temperament is to use a consultative, or trusted advisor selling method or to challenge them. To see this factor in action, consider how you might convince Donald Trump to change his statements on NATO members like Lithuania.

Understand & Adapt to What the GoGetter Overvalues

First of all, the GoGetter temperament factor causes people to magnify the importance of financial gain so much that it dominates the way they interpret events. So when Donald Trump looks at Lithuania, which is smaller than the state of Maine, he seems to give tremendous weight to the fact that they are not paying their fair share when it comes to NATO.  Now if GoGetter is not one of your dominant temperament factors, chances are you magnify the importance of other things. For example, you may give tremendous weight to what could go wrong, such as Vladimir Putin potentially interpreting a demand on Lithuania to meet their NATO financial obligations as an excuse to invade, which might lead to an unintended war, which might become nuclear, which might – well you get the picture.  As a result, when you meet with Trump to convince him to give unconditional support to NATO and specifically Lithuania, an argument quickly results with the each of you convinced that the other doesn’t understand the real issue.

The same thing happens when you try to get GoGetters to see the value in you as a trusted advisor or in the non-financial benefits of working with your company.  In addition, they are so strategic and driven to win while at the same time so personally persuasive, that they will win before you ever start competing. Just ask the Donald’s Republican rivals. In sales this means they maneuver to always keep you on edge and then suck all your profit out of the deal before you ever knew what hit you. It is all about the deal.


Case in point is a friend of mine who worked for months to get the opportunity to present a proposal to Donald Trump.  He was told he had 30 minutes but when he entered Mr. Trump’s office, Donald told him how valuable his time was and that my friend had to prove this meeting would be valuable before Donald would give him the full 30 minutes or even let him sit down at the presentation table.  Luckily my friend had done his homework on Donald’s temperament and responded brilliantly which impressed Donald, who granted him the full meeting time.  

Presenting to a GoGetter

If you want to achieve your goals with a GoGetter you must adapt the way you act, speak and present to what they overvalue.   This means matching their bravado and finding ways to let it slip that you are very successful. GoGetters love dealing with other winners. In the presentation focus on the financial gain, don’t get caught up in details, be prepared to get down to the deal terms quickly and never lead with your best price or terms. Then negotiate confidently and professionally like a worthy competitor but in the end make sure they believe they have won a special deal.   

Two final things. First, never let a GoGetter send you to deal with a subordinate. Be bold if they initiate this type of brush off - even to the point of asking them if they think you are a loser.  Just hope that they say no and then follow-up with a statement to the effect of, I’m prepared to give you special deal terms but only if we work directly with one another so let's talk the deal. Second, with the GoGetter, enough is never enough. So make any deal contingent on them signing a binding contract right then and there. If you don’t, when you show up with the paperwork a few days later they will demand an even better deal.

Inside Sales, Call Centers and the GoGetter

If your team sells lower ticket items - perhaps from a call center where your agents can’t negotiate price, you may think you have to resign yourself to losing the sale when you encounter a GoGetter.  However, even in these circumstances you can easily train your agents to recognize when they are talking to a GoGetter and adapt their sales conversation to meet their temperament. For example, to the GoGetter time really is money, so have the reps over emphasize that they are going to personally help the GoGetter save time by cutting through your normal processes and get them what they need quickly. And, if you can tell them you are giving them a special perk, all the better. Since your competition almost certainly won’t make any attempt to recognize and adapt to the GoGetter, you can own this segment of the market.

Why CNN is so befuddled 

Of course everyone has more than one dominant Temperament Factor.  This explains why some of the CNN commentators like Gloria Borger are so befuddled by the devotion Trump’s kids and close associates have for him. They absurdly suggest that this is because his kids are his business partners and they are just protecting their business interests. The real reason is that Donald Trump is almost certainly also strong in a temperament factor that makes people intensely caring about and loyal to their families and those closest to them. If you listen, you often hear his kids talk about the Donald Trump they know – which is very different from what others experience or what you would experience the first time you tried to sell something to him. Ultimately, if you use a knowledge of temperament effectively over a long enough period of time, you can cross the chasm from competitor to beat to trusted friend to protect – then everything changes.


Some of the people I like being around the most and the least are high GoGetters. The group I like being around also have a strong moral compass whereas the second group doesn’t. Both have wildly entertaining stories. The difference between the stories is that with the first group they are mostly true and with the second they are mostly BS.  To learn more about the 7MTF System , how to distinguish between these two types of GoGetters and more about how to sell to or manage a GoGetter Click Here and request information about our courses on the GoGetter and other Temperament Factors for managers and salespeople.


Topics: 7MTF

Your Scarcest Resource and Biggest Training Risk

Posted on Wed, May 11, 2016 @ 19:05 PM

Your scarcest resource is the time salespeople have available to train and your biggest risks are training in a way or on a topic that doesn’t optimize training time.

When training works it produces valuable sustained increases in sales performance. Making it work means that the training creates a permanent improvement in behavior which only happens if the course content is mastered. Personalized training optimizes valuable training time by getting each learner to mastery in the shortest amount of time. Having the ability to identify the content that produces the greatest increase in sales is the final step in ensuring that you optimize the use of your scarcest resource. 

Personalized: Think about your top salesperson and one of your average salespeople. When they come into training, what are the chances that they have the same level of prior knowledge about the subject, absorb information at the same rate or need the same amount of practice to reach mastery? None, right? This is why research done by the AST and others show that for sales training to be effective it must be personalized to each salesperson.

The smart BrainX system can personalize any training to any person. You can use BrainX to personalize new hire training, for the continuous training of your current salesforce or to quickly teach a sales skill.

Mastery: Think about when you first learned to drive a car. Your conscious thinking capacity was totally occupied with the mechanics of driving, leaving very little left to focus on road.  Eventually your brain wrote programming at the sub-conscious level to automate the mechanics of driving which freed up the conscious centers of your brain to focus on the road. The same is true if sales skills aren’t practiced to the point where the brain achieves sub-conscious mastery. Salespeople can’t listen effectively when their conscious thinking capacity is filled with the steps in a sales process that hasn’t been mastered.

The intelligent BrainX system incorporates over 200 published research studies on accelerated mastery-based learning.  Every day the system develops a set of personalized practice questions and verbal simulations for each salesperson. These items are incorporated into short daily practice sessions that continue till each salesperson achieves sub-conscious mastery.

The Best Training Topics: Clearly there are multiple ways of approaching every step in a sale. Picking the best approach vs. the second best approach can mean a 10 to 30 percent improvement in sales performance. This is why the BrainX library of expert content includes courses from a variety of trainers who take different approaches. We also include a way to A/B test different approaches to determine the best approach for your team.

Topics: Effective Sales Training, Personalized Sales Training

How to Use Your Customer’s Emotional Buying Journey to Build an Effective Sales Process!

Posted on Fri, Jan 22, 2016 @ 21:01 PM

     A Typical Ineffective Sales Process


If customers used logic to make all their purchasing decisions, then designing an effective sales process would be a cinch. All your sales team would have to do is lay out the features and price and let the customer make the most logical decision. In reality, the field of sales is both dynamic and challenging because all decisions are based on emotions.A_Buyers_Emotional_Journey_BrainX.jpg

That means that most existing sales processes that are based on how YOU want to sell, completely overlook the most important factors in closing deals. You must create an emotional journey that moves a prospect away from the status quo or a competitor and towards the right combination of emotions that produces a purchase decision. Ultimately, a sales process that is based on taking the customer on an emotional journey is radically different from traditional practices that have been largely discredited and found to be ineffective.

An emotional journey based sales process goes beyond thinking you can control a sale by forcing the customer through the steps of a typical sales funnel (needs analysis, presentation, proposal etc.) Likewise, using the logical form of BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline) turns out to be an ineffective predictor of sales when you don’t know the answers to the emotional BANT questions.

Anyone can rattle off product features, benefits, and prices in hopes that the customer chooses their solution. It takes an effective sales process and a well-trained salesperson to create a set of visions that appeal directly to a customer’s emotional triggers. Visions that get the buyer or buying group so emotionally disturbed by their current situation, so worried about the pitfalls associated with purchasing from a competitor and so emotionally engaged with having your solution that they act without the salesperson ever having to ask a closing question.

With the BrainX sales process development system you can create your own emotional journey based sales process and then use the BrainX personalized training system to ensure that each individual salesperson masters the knowledge and skills necessary to become a top performer.

Click here to learn more about using your customer's emotional Journey to build an effective sales process!

By Bruce Lewolt

Topics: Emotional Journey & The Sales Process, Sales process

Asking the Right Questions about Your Training Strategies

Posted on Tue, Jun 2, 2015 @ 17:06 PM

By Bruce Lewolt

CEO - BrainX

Are you introducing new selling methods and strategies to your sales team in a webinar live seminar or Learning Management System and then expecting employees to master the skills by practicing on your valuable customers instead of at the office?  Does this method result in annoyed clients, wasted opportunities, and lost business?  Most every sales training program fails because it is missing a key element: memory reactivation.

Memory reactivation is the repetitive process of engaging the brain in a way that allows for long-term information storage.  The basis of this technique uses strategic questions to reinforce learning.  Research shows that learners who answer guided questions dramatically outperform learners who simply reread information. For example, it is more effective for a salesperson to watch a video one time and answer questions on several succeeding days than merely re-watching the video the same number of days.

This concept is supported by that study that compared two groups of learners.  Both groups were taught the same lesson and could equally recall the same information (80%) immediately after the lesson was complete.  However, one group received memory reactivation training over several days following the lesson.  This group participated in three, 15 minute memory reactivation sessions, which resulted in 95% material recall after two weeks. 

The other group did not receive any memory reactivation training.  Their memory recall after two weeks was just 28%.      


 In a larger study of the BrainX system, which offers personalized memory reactivation vs. an LMS which uses a one size fits all approach, 1000 salespeople where split into two groups. The group that used the LMS took the posttest experience a 75% fail rate because they had forgotten most of what they learned during the course. However, when the BrainX group took the test, 78% passed with the remaining members only missing by a few points.

Studies on effective reactivation shows that the typical multiple choice study question format employed by Learning Management Systems are not the best technique for building strong memories.  These types of questions produce false associations with material that has yet to be mastered.  A better approach uses short answer/fill-in-the-blank style questions.  This technique exercises the brain more effectively.

The other important ingredient to reactivation is personalized feedback. Sales training that incudes group role playing exercises where individuals don’t get personalized feedback is not nearly as effective as individualized role playing exercises with feedback.

The other problem with group role playing is that management thinks everyone has mastered the skills because a few top performers dominate the game.  This lack of mastery by the rest of the team means that they end up getting the additional practice they need by practicing on your valuable customers. 

The biggest take away from understanding the process the brain uses to grow mastery is to stop wasting money on training that doesn’t include a robust memory reactivation system. Also, insist on reporting that allows management to track the improvements in individual competencies and compare these to increases in performance. This provides powerful information that can be used to further enhance training.









Topics: online learning, memory, sales, education, training, retention, customer service

The Difference between Personalized Learning and Adaptive Learning and Differentiated Instruction

Posted on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 @ 01:07 AM


Personalized Learning Technology has recently become of interest again to the education community.   Interest in the technology was intense after the 2004 Grunwald study, in which 455 of the best thinkers in education identified Personalized Learning as the most promising and powerful application of technology in education.   They observed that personalization could provide instruction that meets the individual needs of every learner throughout the entire learning process.  


BrainX’s Personalized Learning System fulfills this promise by providing the benefits of one-to-one tutoring coupled with both education and neuroscience research-based mastery learning strategies.


A good definition of personalized learning technology is that it maintains a learning profile on each learner which contains information on how to personalize every part of the learning experience.  Research shows that such personalization improves learning outcomes especially if it continuously adapts and improves.  In short, the system acts like a professional live instructor who is providing one-on-one tutoring.  Perhaps this is why the National Tutors Association has always been a strong supporter of Personalized Learning Technology and has selected the BrainX Personalized Learning System for all of their online training and certification programs.


What is the difference between Personalized Learning and Differentiated Instruction? 

Differentiated instruction is one of the areas where research supports the benefits of personalization.  Example: A differentiated instruction system can determine a curriculum path for a particular student; however, it does not necessarily adapt that path as the student progresses.  Similarly, two students who have the same pre-assessment may be given the same learning experience, even if their rate or success in learning differs during instruction.  A Personal Learning System would intelligently adapt instruction in response to a student’s progress.


What is the difference between Personalized Learning and Adaptive Learning?

Adaptive Learning picks up where Differentiated Instruction ends.  It uses data and analytics to continuously adapt the learning path. For example two student who were initially on the same path may receive different lessons based on their previous work in the course. Differentiated learning systems make the assumption that each student is only partially unique and therefore the system can use analytics to place them in a refined category and then use historical information about what has worked for other students in this refined category. Personalized Learning Systems by contrast assume that each learner is totally unique. While they will use the same historical data and analytic process employed by adaptive learning they go beyond this to provide a higher level of personalization.


Example of the difference between Differentiated and Personalized Learning

There are now over 100 years of research studying the science behind Forgetting and Retention – which includes the Spacing Effect.  Students will forget most of what they learn in lessons if they don’t practice recalling the information over a number of days.  The research shows that spacing out the days between recall practice sessions while progressively increasing the difficulty of questions actually reduces the total number of repetitions and total amount of study time required to achieve durable long term memories.  Both Adaptive and Personalized learning will use historical data and analytics to make initial assumptions about the most effective spacing sequence for an individual student.  However the research shows that the exact spacing between sessions and the rate at which the difficulty should be increased is unique to each learner, and therefore, the application of this strategy must be personalized to each learner.  To accomplish this Personalized Learning Systems will go beyond the initial assumptions to identify the specific spacing sequence that is best for each learner.  At a minimum this extra level of personalization reduces study time while in some cases is the difference between students who succeed and those who almost succeed.

Spaced Reps & dif progress

By definition adaptive learning systems are limited to adapting content and learning strategies.  Research shows there is more to improving student outcomes then what adaptive learning systems are able to provide.  For example improving self-efficacy. Unlike either Differentiated or Adaptive Learning, Personalized Learning Technology tackles each of these non-content related issues on a personal level. 


Additional Advantages of Personalized Learning

And as new research uncovers additional ways to improve learning outcomes, Personalized Learning Technologists are the first to look for ways to integrate the research. One of the most important learning-related discoveries in the last two years is that the brain has something like a “gatekeeper valve” which allows or prevents instruction from reaching the brain’s Long Term Memory formation process.   

Valve Closed to LTM


This valve is normally off, because 99 percent of the information the Brain receives in a day doesn’t need to be remembered past that day, so it is only sent to Short Term Memory.  For example, you can go to the shopping mall, shop for several hours and still remember generally where you parked your car – however you can’t remember where you parked your car when you went to the store a week ago.


This means that you can’t even measure if instruction has made it through to Long Term Memory until at least a full 24 hours after a lesson is given (this is why giving a post-instruction test the same day as the lesson should be considered educational malpractice, since it only measures what is in Short Term Memory, which will likely be forgotten in a day.)

Short term memory   Lost

When educators talk about engagement, what they are really trying to do is open this valve to Long Term Memory formation, and keep it open. That’s why things like Gamification become hot topics in education circles.  The trouble is that, aside from using drugs to suppress the neurotransmitter which keeps this valve closed, the strategies required to open the valve are unique to each learner.  A Gamification strategy may open the valve for one student and slam it shut for another.   In other words, it takes Personalization to ensure that the valve is open prior to every learning encounter.


In summary, the concepts of Differentiated Instruction are incorporated into Adaptive Instruction, where things that are not supported by Differentiated Instruction are added to effect learning outcomes.  Likewise, Personalized Learning Systems incorporate the concepts of Adaptive Instruction while adding things that affect learning outcomes that are not supported by either Differentiated or Adaptive Instruction.


Effective Goal Setting for Students

Posted on Fri, Dec 28, 2012 @ 18:12 PM

Effective Goal Setting for Students

 Sheryl Cardiff, M.A. Certified Mental Trainer

            It is useful first, for teachers to understand and implement goal setting strategies, so they can assist their students in mastering the concept. Most people have set goals and understand the importance of goal setting, but not everyone is familiar with the different types of goals. For peak student success, it is important to consider which goals are appropriate to use when. In other words, daily and weekly goals look and function quite differently than end of the school year goals for example. 

            It is common for students to set outcome based goals, such as being in the top 10% of their class, getting into a certain college or getting an academic award.  Outcome based goals are fine, as long as they are long term. This is because one has little control over outcome goals. One cannot control other students, college admission boards or the people who decide the recipients of academic awards, so other students could out-perform you or you could get overlooked for an award even if you quite deserve. Short-term thinking for long term goals can end up in big disappointment, and even worse, giving up. Finally be sure to keep outcome goals realistic and achievable, and make sure you give yourself some time, at least 6 months to a year.

            Performance goals have a different function, but are equally as important. They are a little shorter term, and one has more control. This is because the focus is achieving performance objectives independently of other students or administrators. So, performance goals are more flexible than outcome goals, and one has more control. For example, ‘I will increase my average test scores in math from 79% to 84% by next semester’. This is different than saying ‘I will get a better grade than anyone in the class’, because you cannot control what everyone else is doing. This could put more pressure on a student, therefore increasing anxiety and ability to perform on an exam to the best of their ability. So, the message is: plan for EACH STUDENTS future performance based on THEIR past performance. How would THEY like to improve?

            Finally, process goals are shorter term and under a student’s control. These are the goals that will help students take small successful steps to their performance goal(s) and ultimately to achieving their outcome goals as well, or as close as they are capable. All three types of goals are important, but process goals will keep students moving in that positive direction. Process goals help keep the focus on tasks that students can, without a shadow of a doubt, get done. That is important to keep moral and motivation high. An example is, ‘I will practice my Spanish vocabulary words by putting them on flashcards, and quizzing myself every day, for the next five days for 15 minutes per day. I will do this at 4:15 p.m. and in a quiet part of my home. It is also important to anticipate thing that might get in the way of achieving process goals and to set yourself up for success. Here are two examples.

  1. Part of my goal is to avoid being distracted while I study. To achieve this part of the goal I will turn off any electronic device that might interrupt my studying.
  2. I will start studying after I have had a snack and relaxed for a few minutes from school.

The key to both of these written statements are that they are specific, detailed, and controllable. Goal accomplished, and that feels good.

            Keep in mind that the research shows that most students dramatically underestimate how often they have to re-study something in order to master it. So part of a study success strategy may be for the student to learn how to have a conversation with a teacher to get some guidance in regards to what material to study and for how long each day. Then the students need to plan it into their schedule.  Each student is different in regards to how he or she learns and how long it takes to master a given subject matter, so individual discussions with a teacher could be very useful to a student’s success.

            Think of goal setting for students as a personal roadmap that starts with the end destination in mind, which is their long term outcome goal. As they travel back to present day, they can set performance goals which are measurable increases in their performance. Finally, students can set short term daily and weekly process goals that they have complete control over. These process goals are vital stepping stones to their performance and outcome goals and should be tracked and recorded. If a student does not practice his or her Spanish vocabulary words in a quiet place during a realistic and designated time for 15 minutes 3 times per week (process goal), it will be difficult to achieve a 10% increase on the next exam (performance goal) and to make it into Honors Spanish the following year (Outcome goal). This roadmap should be in writing and posted where the student can see it every day, and reevaluated every 60 days.

Topics: Goal Setting for Students, Goal Setting, Mental Toughness Training