Traditional public school and some private schools are set up to have students go through their education at a certain pace, regardless of how ready they are or how slowly they learn. This has led to problems in the classroom, such as students having to repeat grades or more advanced students losing interest when subjects are taught at a slower pace.
It also creates problems for teachers in terms of determining the right pace for each class and deciding when it is appropriate to introduce more challenging lessons. In order to reduce these problems and ensure that students receive a quality education, some experts have proposed lettings students go through lessons at their own speed.
Mastery-based learning (MBL) provides an educational alternative that allows students to learn at their own pace. This teaching method dates back to the 1920s, when the Winnetka Plan explored the effects of more individualized learning. Students were given the same material to learn, but teachers were expected to perform frequent assessments and evaluations and provide additional coaching as needed.
Benefits of Mastery-Based Learning
MBL can benefit both students and teachers when it is implemented in the classroom. By using the MBL approach to learning, teachers do not have to spend as much time figuring out the right pace for lessons and adjusting it as needed throughout the school year. Instead, they have more time to devote to helping students who are struggling with understanding certain concepts and demonstrating what they have learned.
For students, MBL provides a more efficient way for them to learn and reduces the amount of pressure they face. Advanced students are able to move onto more challenging lessons, which helps reduce boredom of frustration in the classroom. Students who learn at a slower pace can take the time they need to fully understand their lessons without having to worry about being tested on concepts they have not yet mastered. They also benefit from being able to work one-one-one with their teachers on remediation in order to achieve mastery of certain material.
MBL involves a grading and reporting system that is much different and much more specific than traditional systems. Rather than giving students a letter grade, teachers are expected to grade them on their degree of mastery in certain concepts. This helps teachers keep track of how each student is progressing and offers a more detailed way to let parents know which concepts their child is struggling with.
Using MBL in a classroom setting is most effective when teachers have access to a wide range of remediation materials. These materials help ensure that each student is eventually able to master each concept at their own pace.
Despite the extra measures needed in order to implement MBL, the educational benefits it offers are important to consider when it comes to making sure that students are given the best chance at succeeding in school.
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