A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 5E-Based Interventions for Improving STEM Outcomes

Middle school kids working on an engineering project

The Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration, Evaluation (5E) instructional model was first introduced in 1990 (Bybee, 1990) and is ubiquitously used in STEM education (Bybee et al., 2006). The model has three primary components: (1) documents that frame larger pieces of work such as curriculum frameworks, assessment guidelines, or course outlines; (2) interventions (e.g., curriculum materials) of various durations and subject matter foci; and (3) adaptations for teacher professional development, informal education settings, and disciplines other than science. As a result, three states have strongly endorsed the 5E model (Texas, Connecticut, and Maryland).

Despite numerous applications and studies of the 5E model, as well as its continued interest in the STEM education community, no large-scale attempts have previously been made to synthesize the 5E literature. This project will fill the gap.

Using a rigorous systematic review methodology, we are identifying all published and unpublished studies that use a high-quality study design to evaluate the effects of the 5E instructional model and its derivatives. After assuring that all data collected from the studies is accurate, we will use a state-of-the-art method for combining the effects from multiple studies. We will also investigate what types of program, sample, and assessment characteristics moderate the programmatic effects. The results of our meta-analyses will help future education practitioners and decisionmakers determine when and how to implement the 5E instructional model.

Our initial findings—as of June 2022—indicated that as many as 70 high-quality studies have been conducted and published. We anticipate that complete findings will be available by the summer of 2024.

This project was made possible through a grant from the National Science Foundation to AIR (EHR-2000672) and is supported by the Methods of Synthesis and Integration Center (MOSAIC) at AIR.

Joshua Polanin
Principal Researcher
Image of Megan Austin
Principal Researcher
Headshot of Joseph Taylor
Principal Researcher