Using the 5E framework to boost inquiry-based learning.

Using the 5E framework to boost inquiry-based learning.

The 5E framework stands for Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. This framework is synonymous with the problem-solving process used by scientists and mathematicians i.e they engage with the materials, explore possibilities through experimentation, explain and elaborate on their observations, and evaluate their new findings.

The 5Es can be utilized in various stages of planning- a yearlong program, a unit, or within lessons.

This approach gives learners the opportunity to construct their own understanding of a new concept through the engage and explore phases, rather than beginning learning with a teacher’s explanation.

ENGAGE: Stimulate learner curiosity

In this step, the learning topic is introduced by the environment (phenomena like rains, earthquakes, a staircase, or a lightbulb) or given by the teacher (questions to generates curiosity, videos, or a demonstration) or defined by the learner (via observation of the environment). In this phase, teachers provide a question, object, or situation that focuses students’ attention and helps them activate prior knowledge.

EXPLORE: Students develop questions that they want to answer.

In this step, the teacher helps learners develop a problem statement or hypothesis that requires them to explore the topic in a structured manner. Learners may come up with the questions in pairs, groups, or individually with assistance from the teacher. Students really dig into a task in this phase. One goal of the explore phase is for students to have a shared experience that both they and teachers can draw on later when explaining a new concept or skill.

EXPlAIN: Research the topic using time in class.

It is important that time in class is used for research on the topic. Here teacher can scaffold and structure the path the learner is moving on, give feedback, and correct off-task behavior. The teacher also guides the learner as a facilitator by asking probing questions and addressing misconceptions.

ELABORATE: Have students present what they’ve learned. 

In this step, students should create and present their findings. The presentation by students should include their question/hypothesis, the process they followed, and their findings. It is important to present the process that the learner followed to emphasize that learning is as concerned with the process as the findings. Other learners also pitch in their ideas along with the teacher to extend their thinking and transfer their developing knowledge to new situations.

EVALUATE: Ask students to reflect on what worked about the process and what didn’t

Learners may not always reach the desired outcome, therefore it is important to know about the process to address their misconceptions. This will help the learner identify that inquiry may not always lead to a favorable outcome but always promotes learning, reflection, and further inquiry. In the final phase, both students and teachers assess student learning. Formative assessment should, of course, happen throughout each phase, but summative assessment is incorporated here at the end of the unit.

Inquiry-based learning promotes a deeper and wider understanding of concepts. The learning is embedded in the minds of the learners as they reached final outcome by doing it themselves rather than reading a group of facts.

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