When choosing an instructional model, teachers seek strategies that help students gain a complete understanding of new concepts. They aim to engage students, motivate them to learn, and guide them toward skill development. One of the ways to do that is by incorporating inquiry-based approaches like the 5E Model, which is grounded in active learning.
Research suggests that there is a set order of events that facilitates learning, known as a learning cycle. Educators J. Myron Atkin and Robert Karplus argued in 1962 that effective learning cycles involve three key elements: exploration, term introduction, and concept application. “In their scheme, exploration allowed the learners to become interested in the subject at hand, raise questions, and identify points of dissatisfaction with their current understanding. Introduction of new ideas and terms, primarily by the instructor, but negotiated by both instructor and students, followed. Finally, concept application provided learners with opportunities within the classroom to apply their new ideas, try out their new understandings in novel contexts, and evaluate the completeness of their understanding,” according to Kimberly D. Tanner in the article “Order Matters: Using the 5E Model to Align Teaching With How People Learn.”
The findings of Atkin and Karplus directly informed the creation of the 5E Model, which focuses on allowing students to understand a concept over time through a series of established steps, or phases. These phases include Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.