When I was taking up Nursing, one of my professors presented us with the “Remembering Cone”. It basically gave the percentages of how much people can remember about things they read, say, or do. It was given as an introduction to why return demonstrations were important in Nursing (we were learning how to insert IV needles). I remember being fascinated by the numbers back then.
This week, we were introduced to Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience in my Instructional Media Resources (the current course I will be blogging about for the next three months) class. The Cone of Experience showed how so-called learning experiences ranged from the concrete (e.g., first hand experiences called “Direct Experience”) to the abstract which often include the use of media (e.g., watching a movie or reading a book).
There are numerous websites that talked about the Cone of Experience. On one such website, I came across an article that said that the “Remembering Cone” was also known by another name, the “Bogus Cone”. Researching further, I found out that since Dale published his model in 1946, other people have modified it apparently without any valid evidence and passed off as factual. Some of them became popular and were even attributed to Dale.
What was the danger here? Passing off modified versions and adding figures would definitely make it seem that a model was based on fact. The presence of percentages can draw people in without second thoughts. The Bogus Cone, I realized, was the very same model that was presented to us back in Nursing School. The fact that my professor actually used it in class to motivate us meant that she, too, was hoodwinked. The cone – and all the other bogus ones – it seems, was a very effective tool, especially in marketing.
With the amount of information that is available to us, thanks to the internet, it is easy to take everything as true. I guess this week’s reading of Dale’s work emphasized the importance of further research and as well as of verifying of sources. If one were to look closely, as Mike Morrison (on the Web, 2008) pointed out in his article, the numbers were far too perfectly rounded off to be factual.
The only other modification that Edgar Dale added himself to his original model was the incorporation of Jerome Bruner’s theory (Lee and Reeves, 2007). Even then, he has always stressed that no media was better than the other nor do the upper bands of the cone indicate that abstract experiences were for the learned. Indeed, the very fact that an individual could express herself or himself through words is already an abstract event.
Lee, S. J. & Reeves, T. C. (2007). Edgar Dale: A significant contributor to the field of educational technology. In Educational Technology, 56 – 59. Available at http://ilpworldwide.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/LeeReeves07Edgar-DaleUPDATED.pdf
Morrison, M. (2008). Dale – Cone of Experience – Misleading Quotes. Available at https://rapidbi.com/dale-cone-of-experience-misleading-quotes/