Everybody lies, but you don’t lie, or Debunking the memory myth

    How many people remember after passing the training? The student on average remembers 10% of what he read, 20% of what he heard, 30% of what he saw ... 90% of what he did. Many have come across these numbers. They are given separately or are often combined with the so-called learning pyramid or cone of experience. And everything would be nice and wonderful if the Internet wasn’t filled with these numbers, and they themselves were not a hoax and a hoax.

    The cone of experience, the cone of learning, or the pyramid of learning are very popular. They are often referred to in various articles, books, scientific papers and presentations. On the Internet it is easy to find many pictures with the image of a triangle, in which the teaching methods are sequentially written. It is stated that less effective teaching methods are indicated at the apex of the triangle, while more effective methods are indicated at the base. The effectiveness of each method is confirmed by figures showing what percentage of the data the student is able to remember.

    Authors of articles very often use this data as a basis for constructing their “correct” conclusions.
    Quote from Robert Kiyosaki and Donald Trump's book “Why We Want You to Be Rich”:
    “In 1969, a study was conducted as part of the education system that demonstrated the effectiveness of various types of training. On the basis of the research materials, the “Learning Cone” was created. It shows that the least productive means of learning is reading and lectures, and the most effective is practical work. Between them are methods that simulate real experience. Does it not seem paradoxical to you that our educational system still uses mainly reading and lectures in the educational process? And this despite the fact that the "learning cone" has been known since 1969! ”

    The problem is that the foundation of their conclusions is built on quicksand and can collapse at any time. Actually, now we will arrange this catastrophe.

    Vague doubts torment me

    1. Doubts arise already when trying to compare among themselves the options for walking on the Internet drawings of cones and pyramids.
      Find as many differences as possible.

      Figure No. 1: It looks relatively normal, we will consider the standard
      Figure No. 2: Reading - 10%, and listening? 0% or also 10%? Does 20% of what you hear relate to looking at the drawing?
      There is an obvious out of sync with the data in Figure 1.
      Figure 3: Reading and listening are both 10% each, instead of 10% and 20% in Figure 1. A look at the figure of 20% instead of 30%, as in figure No. 1.
      Figure 4: Also a very interesting option. Lecture (listening) - 5%, and reading - 10%? The order changed, the hearing was at the top of the pyramid and only 5% instead of 20%, as in figure No. 1 (the level of memorization decreased by 4 times).
      There is no point in continuing; there are many other examples on the Internet that you can practice on your own.

    2. Very strange research results. All percentages are divided by 10. How realistic is it to get such results under normal conditions?

    3. Who exactly was investigated and, most importantly, how exactly? Why did reading suddenly prove to be the most inefficient teaching method? Even compared to listening (lectures), reading has a clear advantage, you can always return to misunderstood material and repeat it.

    4. Which student is able to remember 90%?

    Bitter truth

    The search for the truth about the pyramids and cones in the Russian-language Internet has not yielded positive results. Everywhere, as in the mantra, approximately the same thing is repeated:
    “Edgar Dale (Edgar Dale) in 1969 identified the most effective ways of learning. Edgar Dale concluded that:
    - listening to lectures on a topic or reading materials on a subject is the least effective way to learn something;
    - To educate others and use the material studied in one’s own life is the most effective way to learn something.
    He presented the research results in the form of a “Cone of Learning” scheme. Edgar Dale taught students the same teaching material, but in different ways. And then he analyzed their ability to recall learned information after graduation. Although the cone is really based on the results of Dale’s research, percentages were not calculated by Dale, but by his followers as a result of their own research. ”
    I came to the conclusion that educating others and using the material studied in our own lives is the most effective way to learn something? That is, following this principle, we miss lectures and reading and immediately begin to teach others? I would not want to get to such a teacher.

    Answers to all questions were found only in the English part of the Internet. And they turned out to be discouraging.
    Let's start dancing from the stove.
    Back in 1946, Edgar Dale's book Audiovisual Methods in Teaching was published . It was in it that the author first introduced the cone of experience (Cone of Experience). Illustrations of the cone from the first, second and third editions of the book (1946, 1954, 1969):

    It is interesting, but from the text of the book it follows that the scheme created by the author does not relate in any way to the ability to learn or remember. In fact, a cone is a descriptive model, a classification system, and not a prescription on how to plan training properly.
    In the diagram, various levels of abstraction are successively indicated: the words, the most abstract, at the top of the cone and the experience gained from real life, the most specific, are at the base.
    Unfortunately, since the first publication, Dale's theoretical model has begun to live its own life. Too great was the temptation to put it into practice. Therefore, Dale specially supplemented the third edition of the book with the section “Some Possible Misconceptions”, in which he warned in particularfrom trying to believe that learning from real experience is better than methods that are at a level with more abstraction.
    By the way, we see that there are no figures in the figure, because the author did not conduct any practical research, and any statements to the contrary are a lie:
    “Edgar Dale taught the students the same teaching material, but in different ways. And then he analyzed their ability to recall learned information after graduation. ”
    Questions remain, how and where did the numbers related to memorization come from?
    Mystical figures were born earlier or simultaneously with the cone itself. And for some time they existed separately, lived their own lives. However, around 1970, someone came up with a “wonderful” idea to combine a cone and numbers. Doubtful data laid over the cone of Dale's experiment. Then the so-called learning pyramid was born.
    Refutations and revelations of scientists have been undertaken since 1971. In 2002, a second wave of criticism arose, apparently related to the development of the Internet, when people began to share more and more false information.
    Researchers with persistence worthy of respect, spent years to find the source and understand who and how received experimental data on memorization. It turned out to be not so simple - all link chains pointed to eight different sources:
    • Edgar dale
    • Wiman & meierhenry
    • Bruce nyland
    • Various oil companies (Mobil, Standard Oil, Socony-Vacuum Oil)
    • NTL Institute
    • William glasser
    • British Audio-Visual Society
    • Chi, Bassok, Lewis, Reimann, & Glaser (1989)

    A detailed study of each of the sources did not allow them to confirm! As an example of an investigation, a small illustration from Keith E. Holbert and George G. Karady  Removing an Unsupported Statement in Engineering Education Literature 


    To be honest, the article is not about the pyramid of learning, and not even about the Dale cone. This is a small illustration of a big problem. It is significant how people massively believe in information of dubious nature. The information in which there are experts with the results of the allegedly conducted research. Although, of course, it is too difficult to resist the stream of false data. Especially when they fall upon you from everywhere: from books, reports, articles of respected people or even scientists.
    I hope that the article will make you think for a second and look a little more critical at the world around us.

    Related links:

    wiki Edgar Dale
    The Corrupted Cone of Experience
    People remember 10%, 20% ... Oh Really?
    Tales of the Undead ... Learning Theories: The Learning Pyramid
    Dale - Cone of Experience or Learning Pyramid Theory - Misleading Quotes
    Forget What You've Heard About Remembering
    The Cone of Experience Myth and Promise of Multimodal Learning
    Cone of learning or cone of shame?
    The learning pyramid: true, false, hoax or myth?

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