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A learning cycle is a concept of how people learn from experience. A learning cycle will have a number of stages or phases, the last of which can be followed by the first.

Honey and MumfordEdit

Peter Honey and Alan Mumford developed David A. Kolb's ideas about learning styles into a learning cycle.[1] The stages are:

  1. Doing something, having an experience
  2. Reflecting on the experience
  3. Concluding from the experience, developing a theory
  4. Planning the next steps, to apply or test the theory

Honey and Mumford gave names to the people who prefer to enter the cycle at different stages: Activist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist. While different people prefer to enter at different stages, a cycle must be completed to give learning that will change behaviour. The cycle can be performed multiple times to build up layers of learning.


The 5E learning cycle was developed by Biological Sciences Curriculum Study.[2] The learning cycle has four phases:

  1. Engage: in which a student's interest is captured and the topic is established.
  2. Explore: in which the student is allowed to construct knowledge in the topic through facilitated questioning and observation.
  3. Explain: in which students are asked to explain what they have discovered, and the instructor leads a discussion of the topic to refine the students' understanding.
  4. Extend: in which students are asked to apply what they have learned in different but similar situations, and the instructor guides the students toward the next discussion topic.

The fifth E is Evaluate, in which the instructor observes each student's knowledge and understanding, and leads students to assess whether what they have learned is true. Evaluation should take place throughout the cycle, not within its own set phase.

See alsoEdit


  1. Mumford, Alan (1997). "Putting Learning Styles to Work" Action Learning at Work, Gower Publishing. URL accessed 31 January 2013.
  2. 5Es Overview: The 5E instructional model. NASA. URL accessed on 31 January 2013.
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