Instructional Model

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The 5 E's Instructional Model

The "5 E's" instructional model was developed by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) [Bybee, R. W. (Ed.). National Standards and the Science Curriculum: Challenges, Opportunities, and Recommendations. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall-Hunt Publishers, 1966]. This guided inquiry approach involves students in actively developing their understanding of concepts or skills with the teacher acting as the instructional director.

The "5 E's" instructional model involves specified sequence of phases: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. Each phase has a particular purpose. The nature of the instructional task during each phase can and does vary from activity to activity, but the purpose of each phase remains the same.


This phase initiates an activity. Its primary purpose is to
introduce students to the concept, process, or skill that will be explored. The engage phase often involves one or more of the following, as well: making connections with prior instruction, anticipating the upcoming tasks, identifying learning objectives, and/or clarifying students' current ideas and skills.

Clarifying students' current ideas and skills may involve
reminding them of or reviewing with them pre-requisites
necessary for the upcoming tasks. In some instances, it may involve making both the teacher and the students aware of potential alternative conceptions (a.k.a., misconceptions). Such conceptions are not corrected at this point; the exploration and explanation phases are designed to challenge alternative conceptions. It is important to bring these conceptions to the forefront so that they can be re-examined in light of new information developed during the exploration phase.


This phase provides students with a common base of
experiences with natural phenomena. These experiences may involve observations of events or objects, manipulations of materials, work with simulations, examinations of representations, viewing a short video, or reading about a scientist's work. These experiences provide a common basis for all students that the teacher can use to assist them in identifying and developing concepts and skills. Students make records of their experiences during the explore phase and sometimes answer questions about them, although these do not go beyond the initial analyses.


At the beginning of this phase in the instructional model, students are provided with opportunity to verbalize their understanding of their experiences from the explore phase. The questions and discussion lead students to patterns, regularities, and/or similarities and prompt them to describe concepts or skills in their own words. This largely student-directed portion of the explain phase may occur in small groups or as a whole class. The teacher then introduces a label or term and provides a formal definition or description for the concept or skill.


The next phase challenges students to extend their understandings or skills and/or to practice them. Through new experiences at this time, students develop deeper understanding, an extended conceptual framework, and/or improved skills. Some of the tasks, such as reading an article, may be done as homework and discussed during the following class period.


The final phase of the instructional model encourages students to assess their understanding and abilities and provides opportunity for the teacher to evaluate student progress toward achieving the learning objectives for the activity. The tasks may involve writing summaries, applying concepts and/or skills to novel situations, constructing a concept map, or taking a quiz. Some evaluate tasks are done as homework.