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The 5 E Model: K12 & Higher Ed

Many years ago I consulted with a university school of education that was helping K12 teachers implement the 5 E Model. I appreciate the power of the 5 E's for K12 instruction but I also like it because the framework is applicable to instruction in higher education. For example, a higher education faculty member wrote about the importance of the first five minutes in class (click here). What he described is about the “Engage” part of the 5 E model. Surprisingly, the 5 E model is still not widely known and/or applied in both K12 and higher education. So, I gathered boxes in my garage and searched old files on my computer about the 5 E Model to post on my blog. But then I came across an online resources with a simple and straight-to-the-point description of the 5 E's by the nonprofit public media organization, WGBH.

Here’s the 5 E description thanks to WGBH.

The 5 E's

The 5 E's is an instructional model based on the constructivist approach to learning, which says that learners build or construct new ideas on top of their old ideas. The 5 E's can be used with students of all ages, including adults.

Each of the 5 E's describes a phase of learning, and each phase begins with the letter "E": Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. The 5 E's allows students and teachers to experience common activities, to use and build on prior knowledge and experience, to construct meaning, and to continually assess their understanding of a concept.

Engage: This phase of the 5 E's starts the process. An "engage" activity should do the following:
Make connections between past and present learning experiences.
Anticipate activities and focus students' thinking on the learning outcomes of current activities. Students should become mentally engaged in the concept, process, or skill to be learned.

Explore: This phase of the 5 E's provides students with a common base of experiences. They identify and develop concepts, processes, and skills. During this phase, students actively explore their environment or manipulate materials.

Explain: This phase of the 5 E's helps students explain the concepts they have been exploring. They have opportunities to verbalize their conceptual understanding or to demonstrate new skills or behaviors. This phase also provides opportunities for teachers to introduce formal terms, definitions, and explanations for concepts, processes, skills, or behaviors.

Elaborate: This phase of the 5 E's extends students' conceptual understanding and allows them to practice skills and behaviors. Through new experiences, the learners develop deeper and broader understanding of major concepts, obtain more information about areas of interest, and refine their skills.

Evaluate: This phase of the 5 E's encourages learners to assess their understanding and abilities and lets teachers evaluate students' understanding of key concepts and skill development. 

Constructivism is a learning strategy that draws on students' existing knowledge, beliefs, and skills. With a constructivist approach, students synthesize new understanding from prior learning and new information.

The constructivist teacher sets up problems and monitors student exploration, guides student inquiry, and promotes new patterns of thinking. Working mostly with raw data, primary sources, and interactive material, constructivist teaching asks students to work with their own data and learn to direct their own explorations. Ultimately, students begin to think of learning as accumulated, evolving knowledge. Constructivist approaches work well with learners of all ages, including adults.

I hope this serves as an informative reminder for K12 and higher education teaching professionals to consider implementing the 5 E Model.

By Continuous Learner (A. Solano)

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