Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience (1960s) refers to a model used in the analysis of various theories relating to learning methods and instructional design.
Coined Dale’s Cone of Experience, the framework has been used as the basis for understanding how learners absorb and retain knowledge most effectively.
Dale’s theory stemmed from the proposition that learners retain more information when they “do”, rather than what they “hear”, “read” or “observe”. These findings are now also referred to as experiential learning or action learning.
Fig. 1. Source adapted from E. Dale, Audiovisual Methods in Teaching, 1969, NY: Dryden Press.
Why Instructional Designers Must Account For Dale’s Cone Of Experience
As depicted in figure 1, the most effective learning strategy is by directly engaging in exercises closest in resemblance to real-life situations. This action learning accounts for 90% information retention in learners. When learning is sensory based, employees learn best as it is a perceptual learning experience.
In other words, instructional designers must implement learning strategies which are based on interactivities through modern learning techniques, such as microlearning. Microlearning incorporates various aspects to provide a forward-thinking, modern learning experience for employees. Gamification is utilized for the most immersive learning strategy, whereby learners physically participate in their training content, resembling real-life situations and processes. In other words, action learning which is a match with Dale’s Cone of Experience.
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Questions For Instructional Designers To Ask Themselves
1. Where will the course material lie on the cone? Would this be the most beneficial position for the effective education of employees?
2. Which is the most suitable learning experience to provide to employees in the workplace? Which is the most likely to be completed?
3. How does the material match up with required knowledge for employees’ respective roles?
4. What is required of employees to complete this training? A mobile device?
5. Is this instructional material the most effective form of training for employees?
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If you would like to learn more about the cone of experience & EdApp!
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H. M. Anderson, Ph.D., Dale’s Cone of Experience, University of Kentucky.
E. Dale, Audiovisual Methods in Teaching, 1969, NY: Dryden Press.