Mastery Learning

The Mastery Learning approach proposed by B.S. Bloom (1968) and Block (1861) takes into account individual differences among learners in learning rates, the principle of over-learning (learning beyond immediate recall) and the concept of learning objectives (objectives for each unit of the syllabus specified in terms of students’ behaviour).

The underlying assumption in this approach is that most students can master a major portion of the syllabi, if enough time is given to them to do so. Further, attainment level is fixed high to have a mastery of learning in the subjects. Evaluation followed in the mastery learning approach is criterion-reference based and not norm-based.

Certain standards are set against which the concerned individual’s performance is evaluated. There is no common norm for all the students. However, there will be great individual differences in mastery rates among the students. But this approach would avoid the majority of the students in a class moving from course to course without mastering the concepts involved.

As an individualised learning process, it puts a premium on the mastery of what is learnt and perhaps, students with higher mental abilities profit more. The others may take a longer time to reach that level but what they learn is more meaningful and comprehended thoroughly.

B.S. Bloom has developed mastery learning strategy. It is a new instructional strategy which is used for developing mastery learning and objectives of curriculum can be realized. It includes classroom teaching, reinforcement techniques remedial instruction and individual learning device. The poor students are allowed extra time.

Mastery Learning
Mastery Learning

Thus, mastery learning is the group-based instruction. It is followed by remedial techniques. The following steps are used in Bloom’s mastery learning approach.

1. Teaching content is divided into learning units.

2. In the second step instructional objectives are identified. The objectives are formulated for every unit separately. The learning outcomes are understood in detail.

3. Mastery level of each unit is determined in view of the objectives of the unit. It is counted in terms of the percentage of questions which are included in the test. For mastery level, 80 to 85 per cent questions should be attempted correctly for each unit.

4. General teaching activities for learning are performed for each unit separately. It is done in group. This step is same as conventional teaching

5. After teaching, criterion test is administered to evaluate the mastery level of each unit. The performance of student provides reinforcement.

6. The students are diagnosed who have not attained the level of mastery and the causes of difficulties of students provide reinforcement.

7. Remedial instructions are prepared on the basis of the causes of learning difficulties of the students. The extra time is given for going through remedial instruction. For this purpose some other books are also suggested to study the content. The branching remedial programme can also be used. Tutorial classes are also organized for the learning difficulties for the weak students. After these programme, criterion test is again administered to examine their mastery level.

8. The remedial instructions or teaching is organized for each unit separately so that students who have the learning difficulties on every unit will get an opportunity to remove their difficulties and attain mastery level. Thus, the students are classified on the basis of their learning difficulties. In this way, every student is able to attain mastery level.

9. The purpose of unit test or formative test is to provide remedial teaching or instruction for weak students. The purpose of criterion test or summative test is to classify the students. Tests are used for evaluation and remediation.

10. The criterion test also provides the feedback to students as well as teacher, for organizing mastery learning strategy or revising and improving instructions and teaching for attaining mastery level.

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