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What Is Mastery Learning?

One-on-One Middle & High School

Mastery-based learning is an approach to education that focuses on individual learning rather than standardized teaching schedules. The mastery method of teaching is gaining nationwide recognition as a highly successful way to allow students to learn more while progressing at their own pace.

Since our inception in 2006, Lydian Academy has used the Mastery Learning approach which focuses on ensuring that every student gains the knowledge and skills they need to progress to the next level in each course. By building this strong foundation in a one-on-one learning environment that adjusts to each learner’s progress, Mastery Learning is changing the way we prepare young people for success in higher education and all their life goals.

What Is Mastery Learning and How Does It Work?

Mastery Learning is based on the premise that every student can master a topic if they are provided with the right conditions for learning. This approach allows students to move forward when they have mastered the task, concept, or skill, and teachers to spend as much time as is needed for each learner to succeed. Teaching and testing methods can be adjusted to suit the needs of an individual student.

Rather than focusing on teaching students for a specific length of time and then grading them on how much they learned, the Mastery Learning approach focuses on how the student learns and adjusts the teaching methods and timeline to ensure a full understanding of the subject matter. This personalized path to education empowers students and teachers to achieve more together.

Studies suggest that using a Mastery Learning approach has a positive impact on student self-esteem, and may provide as much as six months additional progress over traditional methods.1 While some schools can struggle to provide the flexibility and resources needed to implement Mastery Learning in a large classroom environment, Lydian Academy’s one-to-one in-person and virtual learning options consistently provide a student-centered learning experience.

The Key Elements of Mastery-Based Learning

There are 10 principles that are considered essential to a mastery-based learning system. These are:

  1. Learning expectations should be clearly and consistently communicated to families and students. These should include short-term, long-term, and graduation competency goals, as well as how grading and reporting systems are used in the program.
  2. Student success is measured against common learning standards which are applied consistently to all students, even if they use different learning formats or alternative learning methods.
  3. All assessments (tests) are based on competency, and reference specific criteria to determine when mastery has been achieved. Mastery is a personal achievement, not measured against the performance of other students.
  4. Formative assessments are used to measure learning progress during the process and are referenced to adjust teaching practices and provide additional academic support when needed.
  5. Summative assessments are used to measure and record a student’s current mastery level at a point in time and document their achievements.
  6. Educators will report on mastery achievements separately from other important criteria such as attendance, work habits, behavior and character development, and class participation.
  7. Academic grades are used to report on progress and student achievements, communicating success to the student and their family. Improvements to the individualized learning process are carried on to the next level.
  8. Students who are challenged to achieve mastery on a task or topic are always given multiple opportunities and individualized attention to improve their level of achievement.
  9. Teachers will provide multiple pathways for students to demonstrate their learning progress, including differentiated assessments, alternative learning approaches, and personalized learning options.
  10. Students are empowered to make important decisions about their learning experience, including providing feedback and helping to design their ideal learning environment and pathway to personal success.

The Benefits of Mastery Learning

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There are many benefits to focusing on individual learning rather than rigid teaching schedules. We find that the mastery method of teaching offers these advantages for all participants in the educational process:

  • Encourages students to become active learners rather than passive recipients of information.
  • Learning becomes interactive and engaging for both teachers and students.
  • Families are actively involved in and aware of their student’s progress and achievements.
  • Removes the stigma that can be attached to those who do not learn at the same pace or in the same way as their classmates.
  • Students build confidence in their own abilities and develop skills that will help them succeed in post-secondary education.
  • Mastery of subjects builds a solid foundation for greater learning, and allows students to identify and delve deeper in areas they are passionate about.
  • Encourages and empowers students to be persistent and resilient in overcoming learning challenges by identifying and practicing strategies that work for them.
  • Recognizes and fosters personal responsibility and the ability to ask for support when needed.
  • Eliminates the competitive nature of grading and recognizes each level of personal achievement.
  • Inspires a love of learning that can last a lifetime.

Mastery-Based Learning at Lydian Academy

Mastery-Based Learning

Mastery-based learning is an integral part of middle and high school programs at Lydian Academy. Because all of our classes are one-to-one, this innovative learning approach is part of our mission. We believe that every student can succeed with the right tools, resources, and individualized instruction.

Families choose our student-focused programs for our Mastery Learning model, flexible rolling schedules, and virtual learning or in-person classes at our Burlingame or Menlo Park, CA campuses. Gifted and 2e students and those with learning differences thrive in an education environment truly focused on their personal strengths and unique path to success.

You can schedule a tour of our campuses or attend a virtual open house to find out more about how Mastery Learning is transforming the way we educate. We share our strong sense of purpose with every young person we encounter, promoting a lifelong love of learning and personal achievement for every student.

Sources:

  1. https://research.com/education/what-is-mastery-learning

We offer a unique year-round one-on-one learning experience, personalized to you and your schedule.

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