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Top Tips for Implementing Mastery Based Learning

We’re sure you’ve heard of ‘mastery based learning’ – the approach to instruction where students must demonstrate a deep level of understanding of a topic or subject area before moving onto another topic or subject area.

(You can read our blog, Understanding Mastery-Based Learning, for more information.)

To help you implement a mastery based learning approach in your school or educational establishment, we’ve asked three of our teachers from Edmentum International for their top tips to help any school looking to implement a mastery approach. Take a look!

Lay out clear and concise expectations

“So, for me the first tip would be to ensure that teachers lay out clear and concise expectations of each student; and each student, as a result, knows what to expect from their teacher. There has to be clear lines of communication. Creating learning pathways will assist with this, and our solution, Exact Path, is ideal for this.

“Next I would suggest to try and set time aside in the day or even in individual lessons for your students to work on their learning pathways. This time will allow students to work on their individualized work to ensure they are able to master their set skill. This time will then influence what the students will be able to do the following week in their learning paths.”

Emma Berry, Customer Services & Implementation Specialist and Teacher, Edmentum International

The 3Ps approach to mastery based learning

“My three top tips are the 3Ps approach, encouraging mastery learning as well as independence, discussion in context and reasoning skills.

“The idea is that when you come to a mathematical question, you follow the 3Ps approach as outlined below.

“1st P: Past work – look at what you’ve done so far, what do you know already?

“2nd P: Peers – what does you partner think and why? Discuss your ideas.

“3rd P: Prove It! Now that you’ve looked at what you and your partner know, answer the question explaining why you are right!”

Haylie Taylor, Education Consultant and Primary School Teacher (SEN Specialism), Edmentum International

Show evidence of applying and understanding

“First, we start with problem solving. Can the children apply what they are learning (skills) into a real life situation?

“Get the children to apply what they know, e.g., if they have learnt a technique/skill, can they use it to problem solve in a real-life scenario?

“Use mastery of doubling – Fred has a shopping list for 12 cakes, he needs to make 2 batches. Can you work out how much of each ingredient he needs to make all the cakes?

“Second, get the children to become the teacher. Can the children demonstrate, explain and apply their knowledge within the classroom to their peers?

“Have the children deliver part of the teaching input during the lesson.

“Lastly, can the children apply the skills/techniques they have learnt outside of the original subject? Do the children demonstrate a continuity of skill across their learning?

“Can the children apply skills learnt in English lessons in cross-curricular writing and not just within English lessons?

“Are the standards of writing (vocabulary, grammar and punctuation) continued in cross-curricular writing, e.g., in science investigations or geography reports?”

Eloise Cooper, Account Manager and EYFS Teacher, Edmentum International

With these tips from our teachers, it’s important to note that when transitioning to a mastery-based learning approach, schools may need to recognize changes at a system-based as well as a learning-based level. Instruction may need to be redesigned but most importantly, students needs to be placed at the center.

With mastery based learning, the student becomes the focal point, which means that with it, we can maximize every students’ chance of success, be that at college or in their future careers.

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