Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mastery Learning

Mastery teaching allows all students to achieve higher levels of academic learning, regardless of their learning style or ability. Students are allowed to take multiple assessments in order to master the material, giving each student a sense of achievement, whether it took them one time, or three, to master the material. Assessments are used very frequently, about once a week, in order to verify what the students have learned and determine what areas need improvement. Because of this, teachers are able to give more feedback to students, allowing them to correct their mistakes and progress more quickly. Students who master the material more quickly than other are engaged in enrichment activities, where they have exciting opportunities to expand their learning. 

A diagnostic pre-assessment is often administered to determine where the students are coming from and how much they know, or don’t know at the beginning of the unit. The teacher can determine what deficiencies need to be targeted before presenting content (or what can be glossed over, if the students come in with more knowledge than anticipated). Thus, the content can be tailored specifically to fit the students’ needs. 

A formative assessment (or progress monitoring) helps the teacher monitor how well the students are learning the material being presented. They are usually given 1-2 weeks after the material was presented. 

Corrective instruction follows the formative assessment. The teacher analyzes the results of the formative assessments to determine what areas students still need help in. Then, the teacher uses different approaches to accommodate different student learning styles to reinforce the learning. It is not “reteaching”, which usually just repeats the original material more slowly. Instead, the material is presented differently, perhaps through cooperative learning groups.

The parallel formative assessment is the assessment given after the corrective instruction. This provides the teacher with useful feedback to ensure the students now understand the material that they were having difficulties with before. It allows students who didn’t get it the first or second time around to have another shot at achieving the learning. This also boosts self-esteem and motivation because all students feel successful, even if takes some longer to reach the same level of understanding as other students.

Enrichment activities are designed for more advanced students who understand the material more quickly than other students. Instead of allowing these students to move ahead and then be out of sync with the rest of the class, the advanced students engage in additional projects, or activities, to enhance or broaden their understanding of the concepts. This strategy also prevents these students from becoming bored. For instance, advanced students might be involved in peer tutoring, or researching a topic of interest to them and preparing a creative movie about that topic.

TPE 3: Interpretation and Use of Assessments

Gusky, T. R. (2010). Lessons of mastery learning. Educational Leadership, 68(2), 52-57. Retrieved from

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