Mastery-Based Learning is used within Moraine Valley’s developmental education classes.

How do students demonstrate mastery in a topic?
Students demonstrate mastery for a unit by completing a series of assignments related to the unit being studied. Students must achieve a benchmark score (90 percent) on each homework assignment before continuing to the next assignment. Once a student has achieved mastery on all assignments for the unit, the student is considered to have mastery on the topic. Each chapter then has a practice test, which must be passed with an 80 percent score and an exam which must be passed with a 70 percent score. A student who is unsuccessful on any assessment will be required to review the concepts that were deficient and then retake the assessment.

What is the role of the instructor in a Mastery-Based Learning classroom?
The faculty member’s role is quite different from that of a “traditional” classroom. In the Mastery-Based Learning model, it is possible for students to be working on different units at the same time in the class. The instructor will meet individually with each student in the class, discussing progress on individual assignments. After the individual conferences, the instructor will be responsible for answering student questions as they are needed during the class session. If a group of students appears to be in the same area, the instructor may hold a small-group discussion on the assignment being studied to cover any difficulties that students may be having. The instructor is also responsible for grading assignments and discussing the results with the student, as discussed in the example to follow.

How does a student pass a Mastery-Based Learning course?
A student will pass the course once all unit exams have been passed in succession with at least a 70 percent and the student has scored at least a 60 percent on the final exam. A letter grade is then assigned based on cumulative performance on all assignments in the course.

What if a student does not pass all unit exams by the final day of the course?
If this occurs, the student fails the course. If a student feels that there will not be enough time to finish the course due to falling behind, that student has the option to withdraw from the course before the withdrawal deadline. An unsuccessful student may continue working from the last unit that was completed at the end of the semester. The student would re-register for the course, and results from the previous semester would be transferred to the next semester, and the student would continue working as previously discussed. A student can attempt a Mastery-Based Learning course twice. If it is attempted a third time, the student would be required to start over from the beginning due to the amount of time that has passed.

What if a student finishes a class early?
A student who completes a mastery-based class early will earn a grade for the course based on class performance and have no further responsibilities for that course for the semester. If a student finishes MTH-090 or 095 early, the student could begin working on the next course in the sequence. Any work that is completed would then be transferred to the following semester. Example: A student enrolls in MTH-095 in the fall semester. (S)he successfully completes the final in late October. That student could then begin working on MTH-098. Any work completed would transfer to the spring semester when the student enrolls in Mastery-Based section for MTH-098.

What are considered best practices for students to succeed in a Mastery-Based course?
Students who are successful in a Mastery-Based course:

  • Attend every class meeting
  • Arrive to class on time
  • Remain in class for the entire period
  • Have all materials for class (book, notebook, paper, calculator, pencil, etc.)
  • Refrain from texting, using the Internet (other than the homework website), using cellphones, or other counterproductive practices
  • Come to class prepared with any questions that need to be discussed with the instructor
  • Spend time outside of class reading the textbook, taking notes, and working on the homework assignments
  • Make a commitment to keep on pace by completing all units by the recommended due dates
  • Avoid procrastination
  • Avoid long delays in completing required assignments
  • Seek help immediately when having difficulty on a problem or topic
  • Remain in constant contact with the instructor regarding class progress, performance, and recommendations.
  • Manage their time effectively to keep on the recommended pace for the class