Sometimes MashUps Are Misleading: Dale’s Cone and Retention Data

3 Snippets From a Will Thalheimer Post at Will at Work Learning

1- … a Google image search for “Dale’s Cone” produces about 80% misleading information….

(Note: Guy has “fixed” this next graphic.)

Dales Cone - Not True

(One of many examples in Will’s Post. Again – I “fixed” the graphic above.)

2- Oftentimes though, this is presented in text:

“People Remember:

10 percent of what they read;

20 percent of what they hear;

30 percent of what they see;

50 percent of what they see and hear;

70 percent of what they say; and

90 percent of what they do and say

Note that the numbers proffered are not always the same, nor are the factors alleged to spur learning. So, for example, you can see that on the graphic, people are said to remember 30 percent of what they hear, but in the text, the percentage is 20 percent. In the graphic, people remember 80 percent when they are collaborating, but in the text they remember 70% of what they SAY. I’ve looked at hundreds of examples, and the variety is staggering.

Most importantly, the numbers do NOT provide good guidance for learning design, as I will detail later.

3- Edgar Dale (1900-1985) was an American educator who is best known for developing “Dale’s Cone of Experience” (the cone above) and for his work on how to incorporate audio-visual materials into the classroom learning experience. The image above was photocopied directly from his book,Audio-visual methods in teaching (from the 1969 edition).


You’ll note that Dale included no numbers in his cone. He also warned his readers not to take the cone too literally.

Unfortunately, someone somewhere decided to add the misleading numbers.

*** *** ***

Yikes! How does something like this get perverted?

Will (and others) provide an answer.

For the rest of Will’s post, please go – here.

… and see the many examples of the perversions of Dale’s Cone when blended/mashedup with other ,,, ah … information … or perhaps simply: other words … for they can hardly be called data or facts … unless prefaced as “questionable.”

And … if you can … check out this issue of Educational Technology … from Nov-Dec 2014 … which Will sent me very recently … for more on the busting this myth.


For more about Education Technology Magazine – please go here.

Avoiding Foo Foo in Instructional Design and Performance Improvement

Thanks Will – fellow Myth Buster – for your Spaced Repetition strategy and tactics on this myth!

Post from 2006: People remember 10%, 20%…Oh Really?here.

You inspire many – and inform many more!!!

Here is where I am attempting to compile resources related to the pile of non-EBP – Evidence Based Practices – myths, snake oil, BS, foo foo, etc., etc.:

There is Too Much Foo Foo in ISD  – Many Links on Many Myth Topics 

Back to Will…

I first met Will at an ISPI Conference back in the late 1990s or early 2000s (I think) – where he was presenting in the Research track.

You need to follow him – if you believe in Evidence Based Practices in Learning/ Training/ Instructional Design, etc., etc.

Will Thalheimer, PhD
Work-Learning Research, Inc.

phone: 617-666-9637

But Wait There’s More!

See his recent 18 minute video on Learning Objectiveshere.

Please share Will’s posts and videos in your professional networks as appropriate.

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One comment on “Sometimes MashUps Are Misleading: Dale’s Cone and Retention Data

  1. Pingback: Are You Responding for a Reputational Enhancement or Erosion? | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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