Md Ibrahim Khalil
Mastery Learning is the most appropriate approach to education for Bangladesh because it meets the most fundamental requirements for building excellent human competencies. Firstly, it confirms the total achievement of national standards at all levels of learning. Secondly, it provides students with enough opportunities to accomplish mastery in all the lessons, units and subjects they need to learn. Thirdly, it activates teachers and schools spontaneously to shoulder complete responsibility of students’ learning. Strong roots allow trees to withstand damaging hazards and grow big; tall building needs a strong foundation- such old sayings always come as a new idea like a cycle of events. We are to have a good grip over those fleeting wisdom.
Mastery Learning aligns three elements of education, namely, curriculum goals, lesson objectives and assessment of outcomes in a pragmatic way to guide students achieve mastery in all the educational objectives as defined in the national curriculum of Bangladesh. In the syllabus of a subject, lessons and learning units are arranged in order of importance, difficulty and complexity to be followed progressively. Mastery learning ensures complete learning of necessary information and concepts before attempting the next higher lesson. Therefore, no student is allowed to lag behind others. Thus, at least 90% of students can achieve over 90% competency in all the educational objectives of the curriculum.
In mastery learning, enough opportunities are offered to students to enable them to learn all the information and earn all the requisite skills expected out of them. Students are given enough time, instruction, and feedback for learning and relearning as they require until they achieve the defined level of competency in a given lesson and subject. Teachers actively locate precisely where the students are in the way to achieving the learning objectives and let the students know through timely feedback on how to advance with the lesson. Also, students are given additional instruction to assist them in comprehending the concepts and covering up the gaps in their learning efforts. All students are treated equally irrespective of their natural aptitude. Since in mastery learning, attainable objectives are constant, and the time of instruction and revision are variables, all students can achieve their learning target almost equally.
In mastery learning, teachers are unquestionably responsible for any student failing in the achievement of the targeted success. Though it poses a massive challenge on teachers to set learning objectives and guide students on the goal, they become thorough about the teaching process. It demands more time and attention from the teachers to follow the progress of every student. Teachers are to carry out diagnostic and formative assessments judiciously and to give feedback to the students concerned in time. Keeping test records may be of great burdensome if the number of students is more than usual. Teachers are to shoulder the responsibilities of taking students to attain the desired levels of expertise irrespective of their gifted merit.
Mastery Learning has been prevailing throughout the globe for a few decades with a higher rate of success in respect to any other form of instruction. Benjamin Samuel Bloom, in his 2 Sigma Problem, described that the regular student, who is instructed one-to-one with mastery learning methods, performed two standard deviations better than students who learn through orthodox instructions. Salman Khan, the founder of ‘Khan Academy’, emphasises on having the basics first to extend knowledge or a strong foundation for building a house. The concept of flipped classrooms has become one of the best contemporary ideas worth spreading. Though nothing is new in the methods of teaching, a comprehensive combination of best practices is always the best option for our future generation to grow fullest to their potential.
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Md Ibrahim Khalil: Major (Retd), Bangladesh Army