5e Learning cycle

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The 5e learning cycle is an instructional design model that defines a learning sequence based on the on the experiential learning philosophy of John Dewey and the experiential learning cycle proposed by David Kolb. Attributed Roger Bybee of the Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS)[1], the model presents a framework for constructivist learning theories and can be effectively used in teaching science.

The model


Here the task is introduced. Connections to past learning and experience can be invoked. A demonstration of an event, the presentation of a phenomenon or problem or asking pointed questions can be used to focus the learners' attention on the tasks that will follow. The goal is to spark their interest and involvement.


Learners should take part in activities that allow them to work with materials that give them a 'hands on' experience of the phenomena being observed. Simulations or models whose parameter can be manipulated by learners, so that they can build relevant experiences of the phenomena, can be provided. Questioning, sharing and communication with other learners should be encouraged during this stage. The teacher facilitates the process.


The focus at this stage is on analysis. The learner is encouraged to put observations, questions, hypotheses and experiences from the previous stages into language. Communication between learners and learner groups can spur the process. The instructor may choose to introduce explanations, definitions, mediate discussions or simply facilitate by helping learners find the words needed.


Using the understanding gained in the previous stages, now learners should be encouraged build and expand upon it. Inferences, deductions, and hypotheses can be applied to similar or real-world situations. Varied examples and applications of concepts learnt strengthen mental models and provide further insight and understanding.


Evaluation should be ongoing and should occur at all stages, in order to determine that learning objectives have been met and misconceptions avoided. Any number of rubrics, checklists, interviews, observation or other evaluation tools can be used. If interest in a particular aspect or concept is shown, further inquiry should be encouraged and a new cycle can begin that builds upon the previous one. Inquiries may branch off and inspire new cycles, repeating the process in a spiralling fractal of interrelated concepts, where instruction is both structured and yet open to investigation.


  • [2] 5e Model Lesson - 3 science lesson plans using the model
  • [3] Designing Constructivist Lesson Using the 5 E Model - Instruction on how to use the model and rubric for evaluating student performance during each stage

Related articles


  • Anthony W. Lorsbach, The Learning Cycle as a Tool for Planning Science Instruction, Illinois State University (accessed June 15, 2006) [4]
  • 5 E's Lesson Components, The Maryland Virtual High School of Science and Mathematics (accessed June 15, 2006) [5]
  • Miami Museum of Science (2001). Constructivism and the Five E's, The pH Factor, (accessed June 15, 2006) [6]