Posts


Myth:

People remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, 30% of what they see, et cetera. (and variants thereof, including when these numbers are placed on Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience)

Description:

One of the most ubiquitous learning myths is that people remember a certain percentage of what they had learned depending on the perceptual modality or activity that they engaged in to learn. So for example, it has been claimed that people remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, 50% of what they see and do, 70% of what they say, and 80% of what they do and say. There are many, many variants of these numbers, but they are all untrue and misleading.

Note that Edgar Dale never used numbers on his Cone of Experience. Moreover, he saw his model as one that described reality, not as one to guide the design of learning.

Strength of Evidence Against

The strength of evidence against the percentages is extremely strong; to the point that there is virtually zero chance that these numbers are correct. Moreover, there are far better resources that can be used to guide learning design than these bogus percentages, which even if they were correct, would not be granular enough to effectively guide learning-design decisions.

Debunking Resources — Text-Based Web Pages

 

Debunking Resources — Videos

  • None that we know of…

Debunking Resources — Newspapers & Magazines

  • None that we know of…

Debunking Resources — Scientific Articles

 

  • PDF copy of the following four articles.
  • Subramony, D., Molenda, M., Betrus, A., and Thalheimer, W. (2014). The Mythical Retention Chart and the Corruption of Dale’s Cone of Experience. Educational Technology, Nov/Dec 2014, 54(6), 6-16.
  • Subramony, D., Molenda, M., Betrus, A., and Thalheimer, W. (2014). Previous Attempts to Debunk the Mythical Retention Chart and Corrupted Dale’s Cone. Educational Technology, Nov/Dec 2014, 54(6), 17-21.
  • Subramony, D., Molenda, M., Betrus, A., and Thalheimer, W. (2014). The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: A Bibliographic Essay on the Corrupted Cone. Educational Technology, Nov/Dec 2014, 54(6), 22-31.
  • Subramony, D., Molenda, M., Betrus, A., and Thalheimer, W. (2014). Timeline of the Mythical Retention Chart and Corrupted Dale’s Cone. Educational Technology, Nov/Dec 2014, 54(6), 31-24.
  • Jackson, J. (2016). Myths of Active Learning: Edgar Dale and the Cone of Experience. Journal of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, 20(2), pp. 51-53. Available by clicking here.