Professional Partner Content

Video-Based Practice Effectively Trains People Skills: A Brain Science Analysis

Rehearsal’s Collaborative Video-Based Practice platform was born out of a growing business need for more effective tools to train the people skills that are lacking in many businesses. According to the 2018 Gallup Report, 67 percent of U.S. workers are “not engaged,” and this is often due to a lack of meaningful and effective communication, collaboration, and feedback between employees and management. Whether a manager is looking to increase employee engagement and performance or a sales professional is looking to improve their pitch, the need for better tools to develop people skills is clear.

People skills are about behavior. It is one thing to know “what” to do and to have a cognitive understanding of methods for communication, collaboration, and feedback. It is a completely different thing to know “how” to behave in a way that demonstrates effective communication, collaboration, and feedback.

The cognitive skills learning system in the brain has evolved to learn information and facts (the “what”). Cognitive skill learning relies on working memory and attention and is mediated by the prefrontal cortex in the brain. Processing in this system is optimized when information comes in brief chunks. The behavioral skills learning system in the brain has evolved to learn behaviors (the “how”). Behavioral skill learning does not rely on working memory and attention; in fact, it is known that “overthinking it” hinders behavioral skills learning. Behaviors are learned through gradual, incremental, dopamine-mediated feedback learning in the basal ganglia of the brain. Processing in this system is optimized when behavior is interactive.

People skills are about behavior, and thus behavior change is the litmus test. Although many learning management systems (LMS) promise behavior change, the traditional LMS approach to learning is through the cognitive skills learning system. Learners study written content that imparts information about communication and leadership skills or watch videos that demonstrate them, but what is lacking is a mechanism for practice, coaching, and collaboration. It is deliberate behavioral practice, coaching, and collaboration that engage and train the behavioral learning system in the brain and ultimately lead to behavior change.

Rehearsal’s Collaborative Video-Based Practice platform was built with these considerations in mind. Rehearsal is all about practice, coaching, and collaboration. A typical training session in Rehearsal starts by presenting the learner with a contextualized scenario. This sets the stage and provides the important situational context within which behavior is learned. The learner is allowed to videotape themselves practicing as many times as they like. Critically, the practice takes place in a safe and private environment free from evaluation, thus allowing behavioral learning to proceed without cognitive interference. Once satisfied, the learner can submit the video for feedback and coaching from peers and managers. The feedback can come in the form of written text, audio, or video, as well as ratings of tone, demeanor, and confidence. Although the feedback is asynchronous and does not occur in real-time, it primes the learner for behavior change that can be gained through further video-based practice.

Rehearsal’s Collaborative Video-Based Practice platform represents a strong people skills training product that takes advantage of what is known about the brain science of people skills learning. While the learning science makes clear that there is room for improvement, Rehearsal’s Collaborative Video-Based Practice platform effectively engages behavior change systems in the brain and is far superior to the more traditional LMS approach.

—Todd Maddox, PhD, Amalgam Insights

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.