Monday, November 10, 2008


If you are an educator, then you have undoubtedly heard of Dale’s Cone of Experience. It’s been around since the 1960’s as a way to describe our learning experiences. The Cone takes on many forms, one of the most common is this one:

Consider this: It’s all crap. Not very researchy verbiage is it? Be that as it may, it is still the most succinct way to describe the already debunked Cone. The fact of the matter is that Dale’s Cone is not based in research at all, has been debunked, and it is still used on college campuses including good old MSU. I was introduced to the facts of “remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear” in my ELE 302 class. Click here and here to read more about the debunking and crap-disseminatingness of the Cone.

So what do we do? Does our educational philosophy crumble at the base of the Cone? Should we then go back to the old school lecture? I know those have always been the most interesting and most effective classes I’ve ever taken, right? Perhaps not. Just because the Cone and it’s accompanying percentages, which all happen to be 10 percentage points apart, does not mean that real world, authentic experiences are to be abandoned or set aside, kicked to the curb. We have plenty of real research on which to build our philosophies. There’s no need to use a made up diagram.

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