The Cone of Experience can be aptly summarized by this Native American Proverb: “Tell me and I”ll forget. Show me and I may not remember. Involve me and I”ll understand.”
Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience is a visual device that demonstrates the bands of experience arranged according to the degree of abstraction and not the degree of difficulty. The farther we go from the bottom of the cone, the more abstract the experience becomes. These are the elements of the Cone of Experience as arranged from the bottom to the top: Direct Purposeful Experiences; Contrived Experiences; Dramatized Experiences; Demonstrations; Study Trips; Exhibits; Educational Television; Motion Pictures; Recordings, Radio, Still Pictures; Visual Symbols and Verbal Symbols.
Direct Purposeful experience being at the bottom served as the foundation of learning, which is learning by doing and which is the reservoir of meaningful information and ideas derived through seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. Being first- hand experience by the learner it becomes a concrete experience on the part of the learner. The more senses that are involved, the more learning can be attained. The Verbal Symbols on the other hand, are not like the objects for which they represent, but they are only symbols thus more abstract. Learning can be attained as students continually shuttle back and forth among the various elements in the cone and sometimes it can overlap or blend into one another. However, teaching should not get stuck in the concrete but students should be brought to the symbolic or abstract level in order to develop their higher order thinking or critical thinking and creativity.
The Cone of Experience is in parallel with Harvard psychologist, Jerome S. Bruner’s Three-Tiered Model of Learning, wherein Bruner pointed out that every area of knowledge can be presented and learned in three distinct steps: first, Enactive (Through a Sequence of Actions); second, Iconic (Through a Series of Illustrations) and third, Symbolic (Through a Series of Symbols).
As a teacher someday, to effectively facilitate learning, the Cone of Experience can contribute significantly, and I will make use of a combination from the various elements of the cone, starting first from the concrete then proceeding with the abstract, then from the abstract going again to the concrete and taking into consideration also the condition or nature of the learners.