Mastery learning is a strategy and philosophy that enables students to move forward at their own pace as they master core knowledge, skills, and dispositions. This shifts the focus from teaching to genuine student learning. This article dives deeper into what mastery learning involves, how it can really impact student learning, and technology that supports this approach.
For a long time, schools have been focused on teaching rather than learning, assuming that in every ounce of teaching, students acquire an ounce of learning as well (Wharton School, 2008).
Let's say you want to master playing an instrument. You practice the basic piece repeatedly, and only when you have mastered the basics do you move to a more advanced one. The key thing to keep in mind when it comes to mastery is a strong foundation. Similarly, just as you would not build a house on a foundation that is only 80% complete, it does not make sense to ask students to build on material that they have only partially learned. Right now, a growing number of educators and school systems across the world have started shifting to an approach that focuses on what really matters—student learning. This educational strategy and philosophy is called "mastery learning."
At its core, mastery learning enables students to move forward at their own pace as they master core knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Let's walk-through the elements and how we could master mastery in class:
Assessments are crucial in identifying what students need to master their learning.
Diagnostic Assessments - Used to evaluate students' prior knowledge and skills so you can manage expectations and students’ learning goals.
Formative Assessments - Conducted after lessons to understand students’ level of understanding & what students need to improve.
Extra support based on formative assessments to ensure students of different levels are able to progress in learning.
Teachers take extra time before the class ends to be more specific in terms of what is necessary for students to grasp to better understand the topic. This can also be done in a form of small-group discussions for peer-to-peer learning and help each other overcome recognized weaknesses.
Activities designed for students who have mastered the topic. Expose them to challenging yet rewarding learning opportunities by allowing them to dive further into related topics that could also spark their interests.
These activities should be related to the concepts in the topic which aims to provide in depth knowledge so students can achieve mastery on the topic. Examples of enrichment activities include, interactive games and exercises, various multimedia projects, and group based games for students to work on.
Mastery learning encourages all students to learn at their own speed as they master skills and achieve learning objectives. One of the most important concepts to emphasise to students is that mastery learning will allow them to concentrate on the specific skills they need to succeed rather than just trying to pass through topics.
When students are given time to learn and succeed, they’re more likely to value perseverance, have confidence in their skills and understand their own learning needs. According to data reported through the Missouri Mastery Achievement Test (MMAT), teaching for mastery helps students love learning. The younger the better as applying mastery learning in early elementary classrooms, can lead to lifelong learning gains.
Through mastery, it encourages the integration of a growth mindset as it helps students better embrace the idea that they are capable of learning. Growth mindset reminds students that their abilities can be improved with continuous effort. This notion can be powerful, especially for students who may think that they’re not “naturally smart.” but when using mastery learning approaches, they grow to understand they are just at different learning levels.
The key idea is that mastery learning focuses on what students individually need in order to be successful. It gives them space and opportunity to have a deeper understanding of concepts, rather than just moving through the lesson without fully understanding it. Mastery learning uses students’ interests to engage them in learning. After all, what matters in the process of learning is individual progress and a personalised experience for students to truly reach their potential.
Technology is one of our best aids in learning. While there may be many online learning platforms for daily classroom learning, our new learning app Launchpad, helps you implement mastery learning as a strategy for your students.
Launchpad supports students as they master new ideas in the lesson and helps them stay on track. The app comes with personalised recommendations to plug learning gaps, quality lessons and quizzes for all learning levels, and even a reward system to motivate and build consistency in learning. The app’s seamless UI/UX design also helps to support a smooth learning experience. Read more about Launchpad here.