Mastery-based learning maintains that students must achieve a level of mastery in a basic concept before moving on to learn the subsequent concept. If a student does not achieve mastery on a test, they are given additional support in learning and reviewing the concept and then tested again. This cycle continues until the learner accomplishes mastery, and they may then move on to the next stage. This is very much in contrast with classic models of teaching, which focus more on differences in students’ ability and where all students are given approximately the same amount of time to learn and the same set of materials.
There are quite a few myths about mastery-based learning. Given that world has progressed, we have new technology and systems that can help us reimagine mastery-based learning. Let us debunk these myths.
Myth 1: Mastery-based learning is difficult to implement.
Mastery-based learning was first experimented in early 1920’s. Under early implementations of mastery-based learning, a teacher could provide students with the same tests (through which they could move at their own pace by demonstrating proficiency and having the work checked off) but the teacher still had to evaluate assessments and teach students individually on top of delivering lectures.
While the plan received widespread attention, efforts to promote mastery-based learning stagnated after a few decades, given the absence of a technology to help implement it. During this period, it was difficult to make a system where students could move forward at their own pace and still function within the existing structures of school (classrooms, grades, rigidly defined schedules). Mastery-based learning also created some administrative burden for teachers who had to track students through their self-paced courses and offer remediation when necessary.
Mastery learning program designed by Open Door is both easy to implement and more effective for students. Open Door prepares a set of assessments with thought-provoking questions. After the assessments, the detailed result is readily available for teachers.They present a clear analysis of the performance of each student with the misconceptions, weak areas, strengths pointed out, it is possible to offer courses that adapt to student needs on the most basic level. This reduces the workload for teachers who, in previous versions of mastery-based learning, had to design assessments as needed by the individual student and evaluate result manually. Teachers now use the time to carry out effective remediation.
Myth 2: Mastery-based learning is expensive.
In the past, it was a notion that mastery-based learning demands increased funding, increased testing requirements, and a great deal of energy investment from students, parents, and teachers. This does not mean that mastery-based learning is inherently expensive. Now, mastery-based learning can be introduced at minimal cost. Open Door’s program responds to the exact needs of each school, it can be used for a wide range of students, without shelling out a lot of money.
Myth 3: Mastery-based learning makes grading and reporting more difficult.
In traditional schooling, students typically receive an “A” or a “B” as a grade that summarizes their achievements relative to others. If mastery-based learning is implemented, one must report the topics s/he has mastered and topics where misconception still exists. And this feedback should be as quick as possible.
But technology provides a ready solution. With a clear analysis served by an Open Door’s designed system, teachers can view all the concepts has mastered or not in a single glance.
Myth 4: In mastery-based learning, standards are too low and advanced students are not challenged.
In mastery-based learning, advanced students can progress through material at their own pace and remain engaged by pursuing more challenging work. Because success is defined on an absolute and individualized basis, students cannot be satisfied with their achievements relative to others; they are encouraged to seek their own course and take responsibility for their own learning. When appropriate, such system can direct students who have achieved mastery to specific, higher level materials, studies, reports, and books. Open Door uses a novel system called Cluster system in its program, in which the advanced students help their peers to rise up to the level of mastery.