The 4 Phases of Education:
Explore, Learn & Practice, Reflect, and Reinforce

At AES, we follow the four phases of education (also called the four phases of learning) in all of our curriculum products.

That means our products follow these concepts as a roadmap to learning:

  1. Explore: Students discover a concept
  2. Learn & Practice: Students apply their discoveries
  3. Reflect: Students review what they’ve learned
  4. Reinforce: Students apply theory, concepts, and materials to scenarios and problem-solving

So why did we choose to use the four phases in every CTE curriculum system we have?

Video: The 4 Phases of Education



Graphic: The 4 Phases of Education Explained

In a nutshell, these phases show how students learn new skills, build upon them, and recall them for future application.

They also act as an outline for our products HealthCenter21 and Business&ITCenter21.


All three of those products have completely different applications. But they all use the four phases.


Even as we’ve changed our business, we’ve kept these four phases in place since the 1980s because they work so well.

So how do they work?

1. Explore


The explore phase is all about introducing students to new concepts.

Exploring is their first step into a subject to learn fundamentals and theory before they test and acquire the skills they need.

This is especially useful in health science applications through HealthCenter21.

With this methodology, students learn about the background of each health care topic that they study. They’ll read about processes for documentation, patient care, emergency response, and more.

Medical offices and hospitals can be unpredictable places. By learning about them beforehand, students can discover whether they’re a good fit for their chosen field.

That means you’ll keep the students who have a strong interest in the subject and you’ll lose the students who don’t want to be in your classroom.

Overall, it’s a great filtering strategy that inspires some to want to learn more and others to find a new area of expertise.

This all happens because students are allowed to explore their academic surroundings right from the start.

Once they do, it’s time for them to start the next phase of learning.

2. Learn & Practice


Learn & practice focuses on learning and implementing what they’ve seen in the first phase.

So once a student has a firm grasp on the subject at hand, they get experience in applying it.

Most of the time, this happens in the classroom.

But some health science teachers may have internship reservations at a local hospital.

Some business teachers may have arrangements with local businesses to show pertinent documents or processes in action.

At the end of the day, the way students learn and practice is ultimately up to you.

AES products are designed to back you up, so you have all the resources you need, regardless of how you choose to teach.

That means you can give your students a high-quality educational experience every day without worrying about finding new resources and getting them together.

This idea pertains to the learn & practice phase of education, specifically.

How much time have you spent getting supplemental materials together for your students?

How many conversations have you had about classroom resources that never seemed to get anywhere?

With AES products, you get one solution that fixes both of those issues.

All of your resources are neatly packaged in one product, and you only need one conversation to get admin purchasing approval.

3. Reflect


Reflect requires students to look back on what they’ve learned to fill in any gaps in their knowledge.

This phase allows students to revisit information they may have missed, from personal opinions on materials, and write down their thoughts.

This phase also varies the most from student to student.

Some students retain a lot of information the first time they encounter it. Other students need to reflect on it a few times to remember what they read or did.

Regardless, reflection is crucial to long-term information retention. It is especially important when students are about to take certification exams or other high-pressure assessments.

Students can reflect in a few different ways:

  1. Writing down information by hand
  2. Revisiting previous modules in HealthCenter21 or Business&ITCenter21
  3. Talking to you, the teacher or having class discussion

Each of these methods is a great way for students to remember important details that slipped through the cracks on first exposure.

Then, when students feel confident, they can move onto the last education phase.

4. Reinforce


Reinforce is the final phase that applies student knowledge to make sure they retain the information they learned.

The best way to do this is through instructions-based projects that tell students what they need to do next, but they don’t explain how.

That forces the student to consider the information they’ve learned and how it works with the project in front of them.

As they work through the project, they have to figure out the best course of action for each step themselves. The students can also work in groups to encourage collaboration.

You grade student performance after the project, and that shows them where they could’ve made a different choice and why.

The results are long-standing information retention that keeps students sharp, encourages critical thinking and prepares them for real-world careers.

Use the 4 Phases in Your Classroom

At AES, we’ve been using the four phases of education for more than 30 years. Along the way, we’ve helped thousands of teachers and students succeed.

Are you ready to join them?

Learn more about our curriculum systems!

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