There is no substitute for the real thing



Periodically, people challenge me about the use of Edgar Dales learning cone. They cite that a number of papers have been produced showing that the figures Dale used are inaccurate and I have to agree with them. In fact when I present a session and I use this one of the first things I say is that the numbers are question. But the underlying principle is correct and I think I would be hard pressed to find anyone who would disagree. Who could say that listening to some one talk about a topic is more memorable than actually doing it.

There is no substiute for the real thing.

The reason I persist in using Dale’s learning cone is the underlying structure rather than the dubious numbers associated with it. The progression is logical. In a nut shell the more senses engaged the better the learning, the more active the learner the better the learning; The more challenging the learning the better the learning. TEaching others and immediate use is engaging multiple senses, active and challenging.

Consider too Daggett’s Application model which eludes to the same thing – the best learning outcomes are achieved in a real world unpredicatable situati. The more realistic and real world the activity that we use for learning and reinforcing learning the better.

It would be easy to dismiss Dales Learning cone because the numbers are inaccurate, but actually measuring or assessing learning is a fuzzy area anyway, consider the impact of motivation and engagement on assessment, but the flow makes sense.

What about this attempt from me.


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  1. Pingback: There is no substitute for the real thing [Educational Origami]

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