Why the Seven E's

Rationale. The philosophy about learning, that proposes learners need to build their own understanding of new ideas, has been labeled constructivism. Much has been researched and written by many eminent leaders in the fields of learning theory and cognition. Scholars such as Jean Piaget, Eleanor Duckworth, George Hein, and Howard Gardener have explored these ideas in-depth. The Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS), a team whose Principal Investigator is Roger Bybee developed an instructional model for constructivism, called the "Five Es".

Briefly, this learning approach as it relates to science can be summarized as follows: Learning something new, or attempting to understand something familiar in greater depth, is not a linear process. In trying to make sense of things we use both our prior experience and the first-hand knowledge gained from new explorations. Initially, our curiosity about a science topic is stirred, as we are stimulated by some intriguing phenomena, such as a rainbow we've noticed. We poke, probe, inquire about and explore this phenomena until it becomes less mysterious. As we begin to investigate new ideas we can put together bits and pieces of prior explorations that seem to fit our understanding of the phenomena under present investigation. In the case of the rainbow, for example, we may realize that there is an association between sunlight and water vapor. Piece by piece we build knowledge. Sometimes when the pieces don't fit together, we must break down old ideas and reconstruct them. (Following a rainbow to find a pot of gold doesn't work easily!) We extend our conceptual understanding through discussions and creative efforts. We validate our theories as we solve problems. In our rainbow example, we may realize that if we position ourselves properly, we can create a rainbow by spraying a water hose in sunlight. The clarity we've gained in understanding a concept gives us the ability to apply this understanding to new situations and new mysteries. It is a continuous and a very individual process. We bring to each learning experience our developmental level, our personal story and our personal style.

It is up to the teacher to facilitate the constructivistic learning process. The structure of the learning environment should promote opportunities and events that encourage and support the building of understanding.

We have used an adaptation of BSCS's model to introduce the pH factor. Our instructional model is called the "Seven Es". Investigations and activities are included under the headings of each E. They are presented to be taught either in sequence or independently, at the teacher's discretion. Each investigation is designed to stand on its own and be introduced when deemed appropriate.

[ Classroom Use | Why the Seven E's ]

CLICK on one of the Seven E's below to learn more about the rationale behind it.

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