The Explanation Effect – Teach what you Learn!

by The Content Team
on July 02, 2021

What is the quickest way to learn? How can I learn efficiently? How can I better remember what I learned?  

These are some of the most basic yet important questions that come up in our minds. Answers to these questions differentiates people and provides a competitive advantage over others. Now, before I try to answer these questions using “The Explanation Effect”, let’s first touch upon how most people think learning happens.

How learning happens – from the viewpoint of most people

Most people think learning is just taking in information. People assume they have learned automatically after reading an article/book, or watching a video, or listening to a podcast, or having a life experience. 

However, learning is NOT just about getting the information. To explain this better, let me take an example. Just by looking at a food dish, we do not know about the ingredients that went into the making of the dish. Similar to this, just taking in information does not mean learning. 

We need to process and absorb the information collected, and without this almost everything is lost within weeks. We then need to transform the information in our brains to make it understandable and usable. This further gets refined after feedback from interactions with others. 

Introducing The Explanation Effect

Now that we agree that learning is not just an intake of information, let me introduce “The Explanation Effect”, which simply is that the fastest and best way to learn something is to give it to others as soon as you learn it — Teach what you learn!

Peter Drucker, a famous educator and writer, said that “No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.”

Research shows that when we learn with the intention to teach, we learn more deeply and efficiently. Here, teaching does not mean teaching to students, but also refers to having a conversation with friends/family/colleagues, or even explaining a concept to ourselves out loud.

Teaching reveals gaps in our knowledge and understanding. Thus forcing us to think, fill those gaps and make us accountable to apply what we learn. This process also gives us valuable feedback from others, and helps us refine our learning. The Explanation Effect approach is followed by well-known successful people such as Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and many more. 

Harvard Business School did a study with several employees where they concluded that “employees who spent the last 15 minutes of each day of their training period writing and reflecting on what they had learned did 23% better in the final training test than other employees.” 

In conclusion, start spending time on yourself daily reflecting on your learnings. This habit will help you learn quickly and efficiently, and that will provide a competitive advantage over others. 

Anand Damani

CEO, Examination Online


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