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Mastery Learning Technique to Help Your Child Learn


“THE MASTERY LEARNING TECHNIQUE” by Joan Y. Edwards

When I was studying for my Master’s Degree in Middle Grade Language Arts, I learned the Mastery Learning Technique. I am continually amazed at its accuracy and efficiency in helping students learn things. Another name for it was cumulative learning, cumulative testing. The reason why it is so effective is when a student makes an error, the teacher corrects him immediately. The teacher speaks the correct answer clearly. The student repeats it. Anyone can play the part of the instructor: teacher, parent, student, tutor, and/or peer.

Mastery Learning Technique USED WITH SPELLING WORDS

Suppose a student has a list of 10 spelling words. It works really well if you write the words on 3×5″ cards.

1.The student studies the spelling list of words in order. He lets the instructor know when he’s ready for the test.

  1. The instructor asks the student to spell each word out loud in order. The instructor says the word. The student says the word, spells the word aloud, then says the word again.
  2. Each time a student misspells a word or takes more than 20 seconds to get the next letter out says, “No. Says the word. Spells the word correctly. Then repeats the word.

  3. The student then repeats it. Says the word. Spells the word. Repeats the word. It’s really good to have him repeat saying and spelling the word three times before starting over again.

  4. Then the student starts all over again from the beginning. Spelling the words in the same order.

  5. The student keeps going until he spells each word on the list correctly in order.

  6. Then the teacher scrambles the list of words or shuffles the cards so the words are not listed in the same order. The student studies, says he is ready for the test. The instructor tests. The student passes this test.

  7. Then the student studies one more time in a different order. Says he is ready for the test. The instructor shuffles the cards. Gives the test in random order. When the student conquers this. He has mastered this skill.

Mastery Learning Technique USED WITH MULTIPLICATION TABLES

You can use this procedure to study the multiplication tables, too.

1.The student studies one multiplication table in order. He lets the instructor know when he’s ready for the test by saying, “I am ready for the test.”

2.  The instructor asks the student a multiplication number fact in order from smallest to largest: 1 x 1 = 1, 1 x 2 = 2, etc. The instructor says the fact as a question? 1 times 1 is? The student responds: 1 times 1 is 1.

2 times 1 is? The student responds. 2 times 1 is 2.

And so on through the one multiplication table.

  1. Each time a student misses an answer, the instructor says, “No.” Then the instructor says the  the multiplication fact correctly.
  • The student then repeats the multiplication fact correctly three times.

  • Then the student starts all over again from the beginning.

  • The student keeps going until he remembers and recites the multiplication facts correctly in order.

  • The student mixes the cards up. Studies them. The student tells the instructor, “I am ready for the test.” Then the instructor tests.

  • Then the student studies one more time in a different order. Says he is ready for the test. The instructor shuffles the cards. Gives the test in random order. When the student conquers this. He has mastered this skill.

  • One of the things that the students like about this is that it makes it like a game. Similar to the video games, when they konk out with a wrong answer. They have to start all over again.

    If the student has confidence issues, when they get each one right,  have them say, “I am right.”

    Last year I taught this to my nephew who was having problems learning his times tables. I was there four days. He mastered through the 9 times table in four days.  He went from thinking he couldn’t learn them to knowing that he could learn them and that he had learned them. He retained the memory. It made a huge difference in him. It also was a way to let his parents and grandparents know how to help him.

    Use this study/test procedure for learning in many areas: alphabet, addition facts, subtraction facts, multiplication facts, any facts needed for a test, steps for making something, driver’s education questions. The skies the limit.

    I used it with my kindergarten classes, fourth grade and fifth grade classes for a number of things. It helped build confidence in those students who thought they couldn’t learn. The brain is a remarkable thing. If you think you can do something, it’ll find ways to prove you are right. It wants you to be right. Build on that belief. Say, “I can learn this,” or  “My child can learn this.”  Empower yourself and others.

    Benjamin Bloom helped set step by step learning increments for different levels of instruction in all subject areas. Most schools use Bloom’s Taxonomy in their teaching guidelines and goals.

    Resources
    Benjamin Bloom. (1971). Mastery learning. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

    Thomas Guskey. “Mastery Learning:” http://www.education.com/reference/article/mastery-learning/

    Wikipedia. “Bloom’s Taxonomy:” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_Taxonomy

    Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards

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    10 Responses

    1. Joan, I’ve used this when learning to play a piece of music or when practicing an etude, and it is very effective. It never occurred to me to apply it to anything else. Thanks for the great article.

      Like

      • Dear Margaret, Thanks for letting me know about your success in using this method to help you learn a piece of music or when practicing an etude. You’re welcome for my posting it. I love stories of success in learning. Yours is a great success story. Dream! Love! Laugh! Never Give Up Joan Y. Edwards http://www.joanyedwards.com http://www.joanyedwards.wordpress.com

        Like

    2. Joan,
      I got a watered-down explanation of Mastery Learning during my years in education. It helps to hear the process again. Thanks.

      Like

      • Dear Linda, Thanks for writing. A watered down version really doesn’t explain how miraculous the Mastery Learning Technique seems to be. It takes a person who before this has thought, “I can’t learn this” and changed their whole perspective of themselves to one of “I can learn this.” Breaking what you’re learning into different small chunks helps to get you through step by step to the end result. It puts the right information into the brain over and over again. What I like is it doesn’t really have to be an instructor, it only has to be someone who can read, listen, and correct when necessary. It’s always good to hear from you. Thanks again.

        Joan Dream! Love! Laugh! Never Give Up. Joan Y. Edwards http://www.joanyedwards.com http://www.joanyedwards.wordpress.com

        Like

    3. Another practical blog for this homeschooling mom! Thanks Joan, what would we do without you? Have a great weekend!:)
      Brenda

      Like

      • Dear Brenda, Oh you make my heart sing. Thank you for writing. I’m glad that The Mastery Learning Technique seems to be a practical one to use. I can tell you that in all the times I used it, “It never failed.” The student always made progress each time he used it. The fact that they hate to start over, makes them work harder to learn. Sometimes I would let the student do the exercise on me and I would pretend to get some wrong. They love to point out that someone else is wrong. They have a smile for two reasons. One is: They know the right answer. The other is to see an adult admit they were wrong. It’s humbling and wonderful for a child to realize that everyone makes mistakes. I hope you’ll try it and let me know how it works for you. Thanks for reading my blog and for writing me. Dream! Love! Laugh! Never Give Up. Joan Y. Edwards

        Like

    4. Joan, as a grandparent to a 3 and almost 6 year old, this will come in handy. And, I’ll pass it along to my daughter; she’s a 4th grade public school teacher. I’m sure she already knows it, but can’t hurt. 🙂

      Like

      • Dear Karen, Thanks for letting me know you believe it’ll come in handy with your grandchildren and that you’re passing it along to your daughter, a fourth grade teacher. That is music to my ears. Do something fun to celebrate you and your family! Dream! Love! Laugh! Never Give Up Joan Y. Edwards

        Like

    5. Thanks for the tip, Joan. I’m meeting my first ESL student on Thursday and can incorporate this teaching method into the Laubach Method I’ll be using. My student has been in this country for only 4 months and is illiterate in English and her native language, plus speaks very little English. Ought to be interesting. I thinks she’s very brave. Sarah

      Like

      • Dear Sarah, You are very welcome. Wow! The ESL student you are working with is indeed brave. I’ll pray for her success. I do believe this method will help her, especially if you add pictures to the pie to help the learning process. She can do it. Thank you for helping her. Please let me know how it goes for her.

        Celebrate your gift of teaching Never Give Up. Joan Y. Edwards http://www.joanyedwards.com http://www.joanyedwards.wordpress.com

        Like

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