Using a Learning Cycle Approach to Teaching the Learning Cycle to Preservice Elementary Teachers
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The Learning Cycle was developed in 1967 by Karplus and Thier for the Science Curriculum Improvement Study (SCIS). This inquiry-based teaching approach is based on three distinct phases of instruction: 1) exploration provides students with firsthand experiences with science phenomena; 2) concept introduction allows students to build science ideas through interaction with peers, texts, and teachers; (3) concept application asks students to apply these science ideas to new situations or new problems. Since Karplus and Thier introduced the Learning Cycle, several variations including different numbers of phases have been proposed; however, regardless of the number of phases they include, “each new version retains the essence of the original Learning Cycle—exploration before concept introduction” (Brown & Abell, 2007). A popular version of the Learning Cycle is the 5-E model--Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate (Bybee, 1997). It incorporates the three original Learning Cycle phases while adding two more: the Engage phase of the 5-E is designed to captivate students' attention and uncover their prior knowledge about the concept(s), while the Evaluate phase is an opportunity for the teacher to assess students' progress, as well as for students to reflect on their new understandings.