Case of Experience by Edgar Dale

There are three sources to gather human experience:

1. Direct sensory contact which involves doing.

2. Oral and printed words which involve symbolising.

3. Pictures or some other forms of representation of objects which involves observing.

Or these three, the symbolizing is of least importance while teaching young learners. Edgar Dale represents this in a pictorial device pinnacle form which is called Cone of Experience.

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Let us travel up the cone from the base. The order will be that of increasing abstractness. The experiences included in the cone are as indicated below:

1. Direct, Purposeful Experience:

That is seen, felt, touched smelt, i.e., experience gained through senses. These are direct purposeful experiences. Objects are reality. They are preferred in teaching. They help to develop concepts in the minds of students.


2. Dramatic Participation:

When we talk of dramatic participation, we mean that we can get as close as possible to the realities of the past. Dramatizations are available in a variety of forms.

You have to rehearse beforehand. You can be an observer. You can be a participant. You have to wear a costume. Proper costumes heighten the effect of dramatisation in three ways:

(i) It compels attention.


(ii) It helps to identify the actor young, old, type of work or character.

(iii) It enables the actor to feel and play his role better.

The types of dramatised play are the play, the pagent, tablean etc.

3. Contrived Experience:

Like working out a mode. A model is a miniature form of reality. A model helps in understanding.

4. Field Trips:

With the help of field trips, you can get first hand experiences with the things and phenomena which cannot be brought into the class-room. Only when this is not possible, the – teacher should resort to other visual aids.

5. Demonstration Experiments:

Complicated processes can be performed by the teacher for the benefit of pupils who are reduced to the position of passive observers. You can demonstrate on a demonstration table.

6. Exhibitions and Museums:

By means of exhibits, we can bring the outside world into the class-room and there is concrete representation of things.

7. Television:

Television can bring the real experience in the class-room. It is beyond motion picture. In a television, event is seen as it happens.

8. Motion Pictures:

Things are filmed elsewhere and are brought into the class-room. Motion pictures with sound system yield good results in teaching all the subjects in the school curriculum.

9. Designed Materials:

Such as maps and charts.

10. Verbal Symbols:

Here it is use of ‘chalk’ and ‘talk’ method. It requires great thinking. There is spoken word ‘talk’ and written word ‘chalk’. A distinction has to be made between chalk and talk or written word and spoken word. Spoken word is always placed lower than the written word in the cone.

11. Radio and Recordings:

The advantages of radio are many. The only drawback is that it is “one way communication” only.

12. Still pictures, pictures, illustrations are there and these can be projected.

K. Sampath states, “It can thus be seen that the opportunities afforded by the sensory aids are very great and that it all depends upon the ingenuity of the teacher as to how he could exploit the learning situation by the right use of the proper aid.

Nevertheless the richer the teaching materials, the more will be the teacher’s responsibility correlate and plan his teaching. The following general principles may however serve as guides to the use of these aids:

1. There are three stages in a learning process when an educational aid is used to supplement the ordinary teaching, viz., (i) preparing the pupils for the learning experience; (ii) reinforcing the values while the pupils are sharing the experience, and relating the experience with the lesson and thus stimulating further learning.

2. The aids must be adapted to the intellectual maturity of the pupils and to the nature and extent of their previous experience.

3. There is no best aid which has all the advantages. Most visual aids suffer from some psychological limitations. The teacher should be familiar with the advantages and limitations of the various types of sensory aids.

4. Visual instruction in the class-room should not be confused with entertainment. The effective use of an aid depends primarily on careful planning by the teacher.

5. Visual aids should not be considered us substitutes for oral and written methods of acquiring knowledge. They should be used to supplement the class-room teaching.

6. In all cases, the time and effort on the use of a particular aid in preference to others must be justified.

A Practical Cone Classifying Different Aids

The ‘Cone’ proposed by Edgar Dale was die earliest attempt to classify the audio-visual aids according to their effectiveness in communicating ideas. The cone classifies sensory aids in terms of greater or less concreteness and abstractness as learning experiences.

The cone device should not be constructed as an accurate arrangement of the learning experiences systematically from base to pinnacle. Field trip has been classified as an experience involving only observation and hence has been placed much high in the ladder.

Actually, field trip provides rich, first-hand experiences in some instances and hence should be classified under ‘Direct, purposeful experience’.

Similarly, projected aids are considered to be more effective in teaching than the non-projected aids. But projected aids occupy a top position in the pinnacle, signifying thereby that they are comparatively abstract experiences in relation to direct experience.

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