Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 7

Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

Harare Institute of Technology

Chimhundu Deans


IME Conventional PART 4

TEC 402

Mr Nezandonyi

Assignment 1

Discuss the relevance of Edgar Dales Cone of experiences to an

educator or trainer [30]

In 1960 educationalist Edgar Dale proposed a hierarchy of learning. He was exploring different
audio-visual learning methods and concluded that the more concrete the experience of learning
was, the more of the learning was remembered. He illustrated his theory with his Cone of
Experience. The bands of the Cone weren't conceived as inflexible or fixed, but they illustrate a
journey from the most abstract methods of learning to more definite, concrete methods. If one is
committed to helping people learn and remember, then Dale provides us with an incentive to
make our learning as purposeful and experiential as possible. Common sense tells us that here's
something in his theory. Who doesn't learn better from direct experience or practice? And yet
many of us still default to 'workshops' that are more like lectures or discussions and contain no
structured experiential learning. It's not always possible to give as much opportunity for
experience as we'd like in our training sessions, but we can still increase the amount learners
remember by being more concrete. For example a lecture is passive and often abstract. A
discussion at least engages the learners thinking processes more, helping them take the abstract
and begin to make it more concrete in their minds. A photo or a piece of writingwon't enable
remembering as much as a short video or a live demonstration.

Learning expriences can be classified in a number of ways through Edgar Dales pyschological
classification known as Dales Cone of Experience
The experience at the base of the cone is the direct purposeful experience where the one at the
apex is the abstract verbal symbolic experience. All other expriences are arranged between them
from the top in increasing order of the obstraction. It is interesting to note that Bruner has also
proposed a cone of learning experiencesclassifying them as Enactive, Iconic and Symbolic in
almostthe same order as Dale and these are also known in the cone of experince.

Critical appraisal of the cone of experience brings out its advantages and drawbacks


It shows at a glance all the learning experiences arranged in an increasing and decreasing
order of abstractness.
teachers are made aware of the different experiences and their relative value by looking at
the position they occupy
It helps to define inductive and deductive strategies of teaching and in an inductive
strategy, the students are first taught theory and then given practical tasks i.e. they are
provided with symbolic experience before iconic and enactive experiences. In deductive
strategy of teaching, the students are provided with practical experiences to deduce the
theory. It is for the teachers to decide which strategy they would prefer for a particular
It shows that there is no perfect learning experience, different experiences have different
effects. It is for the teacher to provide a combination of experience or to sequence two or
more experiences


The cone of experience due to Dale may not be taken as the gospel truth but rather it is a
hypothesis for example field trips and demonstrations could be interchanged in positions
if field are arranged to provide demonstrations and some first-hand experience.
The cone of experience does not take into account the cognitive impact of different
audiovisuals, for example, projected visuals should be given higher rating compared to
non-projected visuals
The cone experience has no scope to classify newer learning experiences, for example
learning with computers, interactive video and multimedia are not listed.
The fact that verbal and visual symbols are placed at either ends in contrast to direct
purposeful experiences purposeless an impression that the same are direct or purposeless
experiences, that is not true because much of the learning in science mathematics is with
verbal and visual symbols and it is quite appropriate to do so

According to Dales research, the least effective method at the top, involves learning from
information presented through verbal symbols, i.e., listening to spoken words. The most effective
methods at the bottom, involves direct, purposeful learning experiences, such as hands-on or
field experience. Direct purposeful experiences represents reality or the closet things to real,
everyday life. The cone charts the average retention rate for various methods of teaching. The
further you progress down the cone, the greater the learning and the more information is likely to
be retained. It also suggests that when choosing an instructional method it is important to
remember that involving students in the process strengthens knowledge retention.

It reveals that action-learning techniques result in up to 90% retention. People learn best when
they use perceptual learning styles. Perceptual learning styles are sensory based. The more
sensory channels possible in interacting with a resource, the better chance that many students can
learn from it. According to Dale, educator should design instructional activities that build upon
more real-life experiences. Dales cone of experience is a tool to help educator make decisions
about resources and activities. The educator can ask the following:
Where will the students experience with this instructional resource fit on the cone? How
far is it removed from real-life?
What kind of learning experience do you want to provide in the classroom?
How does this instructional resource augment the information supplied by the textbook?
What and how many senses can students use to learn this instructional material?
Does the instructional material enhance learning?

Let us now look at the range of experiences and comment upon their relative values and
relevance to an educator-trainer

Direct purposeful experiences refer to real life practical experiences of doing something. It is
called direct because it is the firsthand experience. It is called purposeful because it serves the
desired purpose of being visible and tangible. Working in a workshop, an industry, a hospital etc.
or an outdoor activity e.g. mountaineering, fishing or rowing a boat are all direct purposeful

Contrived experience are those which are designed and arranged closely resembling direct
experiences. It is not always possible to let a student have a direct experience of all things, some
contrivances such as laboratory experiments, working models etc. are very useful. Contrary to
popular belief, contrived experiences are usually better than direct purposeful experiences. This
is because models are made less complex, see through as also easier and safer to operate.

Drama and role playing places us into a contrived situation calling upon us to play role. The act
of imagining ourselves in new situation and performing a role takes us nearer to the reality of the
situation. For example just imagining yourself playing the role of an executive of a sick industry
or one facing labor problems or taking or about playing the role of an aggrieved teacher.
Participation in a drama gets one closer to direct experience than watching the drama

Demonstrations are another source of fairly direct learning. A teacher may demonstrate a
principle or a process calling the attention of the students to salient points and precautions.
Students may be involved better through questions/answers and by way to do or to perform the
demonstrated task.

Field Trips are source of learning and entertainment at the same time. Students are brought
closer to reality that is they can see people working and machines operating in the real
environment. The value of a field trip is appreciably enhanced if the same is well planned. For
example, if the teacher visits the site in advance and prepares the students to out a list of things
or the arranges for some demonstrations during students benefit more and also sheets of
questions could also serve to motivate the students to pay attention.

Exhibits and Models are useful to illustrate the principles of operation and mechanisms. Given
to the students to handle and play, models can create insight experiences. Use of for example,
display charts, photographs alongside models ensures better participation.

Motion Pictures and Video occupy an enviable position in the cone of experiences. They bring
the outside world into the classroom. Both motion and sound effects come alive. In addition,
time and space may be regulated, for example, an event may be shown in slow motion, time-
lapse or freeze frame mode occurring at the place or somewhere. Good filming creative editing
can make the learning experience extremely powerful.

Still Pictures and Audio provide one dimensional visual and aural experiences respectively.
Pictures of objects create visual stimuli whilst audio recordings communicate the aural message.
The two together complement each other and make a rich learning experience. The teacher
should therefore explain and comment on the still pictures being shown.

Visual Symbols include charts, maps, photographs and posters containing words, diagrams,
graphs, schematics, algorithms, cartoons and pictures. Visuals comprise a universal universal
language for communication. Simple sketches drawn on board or a chart convey more than
paragraphs of verbalism do. It is necessary to create visual literacy among young children if they
have to grow up and learn through video and computers.

Verbal Symbols constitute the most abstract learning experience. Words, formulae, numbers and
expressions come in this category. They are precise means of communication. A formula or an
equation for a chemical action written in one line conveys of a great deal more information. For
example, E= mc2 shows that

a) Energy (E) and mass (m) are inter-convertible

b) The energy is c times the mass (m) where c is the velocity of light
c) The velocity of light being so large, a very small mass (m) is equivalent to an extremely
high energy level.
Similarly, a chemical equation such as Cu + H2SO4 ------> CuSO4 + H2one to see the reactants
and products of reaction, number of moles of each substance taking part, mass ratios, volume
ratios etc.

After going through the different components of the Cone of Experience, it could be said that in
facilitating learning, we can use variety of materials and medium in order to maximize the
learning experience. One medium is not enough thus if we can take advantage of the other
media. Theres nothing wrong with trying to combine several medium for as long as it could
benefit the learners. Also, through the levels provided by the Cone of Experience, it could be said
that concrete experiences must be provided first in order to support abstract learning. Lastly,
staying on the concrete experiences is not even ideal because through providing abstract
experiences to the learner, the more he/she will develop his/her higher order thinking skills
which is important for more complex way of thinking and for dealing with more complex life
situations. Through understanding each component of the Cone of Experience, it could be said
that Educational Technology is not limited to the modern gadgets that we have right now but
rather it is a broad concept that includes all the media that we can use to attain balance as we
facilitate effective and meaningful learning.


1. Diamond, Robert M. Designing and Improving Courses and Curricula in Higher

Education. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 1989.
2. Dale, Edgar. Audio-Visual Methods in Teaching, 3 rd. ed., Holt, Rinehart & Winston,
New York, 1969, p.108
3. Bruner, Jerome S. Toward a Theory of Instruction, Harvard University Press, Cambridge,
MA, 1966, p. 49.