Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

About the 5E Instructional Model

The 5E Instructional Model encourages students to use inquiry and critical thinking and to explore the process of science. The model aligns with the needs of the Maryland Department of Education.

The model was developed by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) and adapted by Maryland Sea Grant. BSCS is a nonprofit educational organization that works to improve science education based on research about what teaching methods are effective.

The 5E's are:

  • Engagement: Activities that capture the students' attention, stimulate their thinking, and help them access prior knowledge.
  • Exploration: Provides students time to think, plan, investigate, and organize collected information.
  • Explanation: Involves students in an analysis of their exploration. As a result, their understanding is clarified and modified.
  • Extension: Gives students the opportunity to expand and solidify their understanding of the concept and/or apply it to a real world situation.
  • Evaluation: Occurs throughout the lesson. Consistent use of scoring tools improves learning.

The 5E Instructional Model is based on these premises:

  • Students come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works. These preconceptions shape how they assimilate new learning.
  • To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must have a deep foundation of knowledge. They must understand how this knowledge relates to a conceptual framework. And they must be able to organize that knowledge so that it can be retrieved and applied.
  • Students must be taught explicitly to take control of their own learning by defining goals and monitoring their progress toward meeting them.
  • Each phase of the 5E’s has a specific function and contributes to the teacher’s coherent instruction and to the learners’ formulation of a better understanding of scientific concepts.
  • Students’ construction of knowledge can be assisted if teachers use sequences of lessons designed to challenge students’ current conceptions and to provide them time and opportunities to reconstruct their knowledge.

(Text adapted from the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study.)

Learn more about the 5E Instructional Model.