What is The Learning Cycle?

The Learning Cycle is an approach to designing learning experiences that capture best the knowledge and theory of how people learn, which was developed by the University of California, Lawrence Hall of Science.

There are five phase of The Learning Cycle:

  1. Invitation
  2. Exploration
  3. Concept Invention
  4. Application
  5. Reflection

Each phase offers an important step in assisting students in their learning and understanding of the concepts being covered. To facilitate students learning in at each phase we use different approaches, experiences, and prompting questions for the students. Therefore, as you work through an activity like a Data Exploration, the Challenge Question, and Interpretation & Analysis Questions you ask along the way may differ deeding on which stage of the learning cycle you are in.

The Learning Cycle can be replicated at different scales from as small as within an activity to as large as across a whole unit/semester. The key is providing your students opportunities to engage in each phase of The Learning Cycle. Each Data Exploration has been designed to be utilized for a specific phase, however multiple Data Explorations per data set have been developed so that you can best choose which way you want to use those data in your teaching.

Quick Reads

The Learning Cycle Overview

The Learning Cycle (one-page version)

Five Foundational Ideas on Learning

Webinar: Designing Effective Learning Experiences Based on How People Learn

The Learning Cycle with Data Explorations

Throughout the Data Labs project, we have used the Learning Cycle to guide the design and implementation of the various activities we developed.  During our 2019 workshop series, we asked educators to develop Data Explorations with the Learning Cycle in mind. Each Instructor Guide includes suggestions on what activities or questions to ask during each phase.  Several faculty presented their ideas and experiences during our webinar series.  We encourage you to check out those recordings, and the suggested Learning Cycle sequences they developed.

Anoxic Events
Data Lab | Instructor’s Guide | Learning Cycle Chart

Dynamic Air-Sea Interactions
Data Lab | Instructor’s Guide | Learning Cycle Chart

Thermohaline Circulation
Data Lab | Instructor’s GuideLearning Cycle Chart

Chlorophyll-a in Upwelling and Stratified Temperate Regions
Data Lab | Instructor’s GuideLearning Cycle Chart

Factors Affecting Primary Production
Data Lab | Instructor’s Guide | Learning Cycle Chart

Plate Tectonics and the Seafloor
Data Lab | Instructor’s Guide |Learning Cycle Chart

Seasonal Variability in the Mixed Layer
Data Lab | Instructor’s Guide | Learning Cycle Chart