Have you ever worked for someone who was just a great teacher?
He or she may have encouraged you to reflect on your own experience, draw lessons from it, and then extend these lessons into a whole new area.
Instead of simply being presented with the information you needed to learn, you explored it, and understood it on your own terms.
The 5 E Learning Cycle is a training framework that harnesses learners' curiosity in exactly this way. It encourages them to explore their own experience, and understand information in ways that resonate with them. As a result they can retain information – and apply it – more effectively.
Lets explore how you can use this tool to develop more effective learning experiences for members of your team.
About the Model
The 5 E Learning Cycle, shown in Figure 1, was first developed by Robert Karplus and his colleagues in the late 1960s. They based it on the work of Robert Piaget, a pioneer in student intelligence and learning.
The earliest version of this model had just three phases: Exploration, Concept Introduction, and Concept Attainment. More recently, researchers have redeveloped the model to have four, renamed phases – Engage, Explore, Explain, and Elaborate.
Each phase includes an Evaluation point, and learners do not move on to the next phase until they have been evaluated to show that they have successfully understood information from the current phase.
The model is effective for two main reasons:
It uses active training techniques – also known as "learning by doing." Learners put information into contexts that they can personally relate to. This personalization of the learning material makes it easier for students to remember.
It is based on pattern recognition, a form of learning that is present from early childhood. Students using the 5 E Learning Cycle do not need to develop new approaches to learning – instead, they tap into one that is already highly developed.
The model was originally designed for teachers in a classroom setting. However, it can be effective in other educational settings, and research shows that it can outperform other instructional models when it comes to creative and critical thinking.
The cycle is particularly suitable for adult learners in the workplace. They are able to reflect on their existing knowledge and their progress, and they are likely have many real-life examples to which they can apply the concepts that they are learning.
Applying the Tool
To train people using the 5 E Cycle, aim to move through each phase of the process in turn, ensuring that you build Evaluation into each phase.