Moraine Valley Community College || Developmental Education || Mastery-Based Learning

Mastery-Based Learning

The Spring 2015 sections are as follows
MTH-090-034, 2-3:15 p.m., TR, Riola
MTH-090-204 6:30-7:45 p.m., MW, Galka
MTH-095-022, 10 a.m.-11:50 p.m., TR, Galka
MTH-095-044, Noon-1:50 p.m., TR, King
MTH-095-064, 4-5:50 p.m., MW, DeAnda-Shah
MTH-098-011, 8-9:50 p.m., TR, DeAnda-Shah
MTH-098-040, Noon-1:50 p.m., TR, Riola
MTH-098-206, 8-9:50 p.m., MW, Galka

This model has three levels of assessments for each unit in the course which includes homework assignments, a practice test, and a unit exam. Students complete homework assignments via an online homework website that supplements the textbook on which the class is based. This provides a means for students to get immediate feedback about their progress on an assignment. This also allows the instructor to gauge whether the assignment is completed at the required mastery level. Through the website, students can determine how much of the unit has been completed, and plan their work accordingly. From the instructor’s view of the student’s work, the instructor can determine which questions are problematic and assist the student in solving the problems. Students must achieve a pre-determined benchmark score (90 percent) on each homework assignment before being allowed. to continue on to the next. This ensures that the students have the required skills before attempting an assignment.

Rationale: Concepts studied in mathematics are built upon one another. Given this fact, it is crucial to students’ success that they demonstrate proficiency in one unit before proceeding to study the next. If a student has not demonstrated mastery in a prerequisite topic, learning the next topic becomes much more difficult.

Once a student has completed all homework assignments for a unit, thus achieving mastery, that student is eligible to take a practice test. This test covers topics presented over the entire unit, and is intended to be taken with limited assistance from the instructor or student notes, book, etc. This gives the student a low-stakes test to determine to what degree they have learned and remember the topics from the unit. A student who has an unsuccessful practice test will discuss the test with the instructor, correct any difficulties, and repeat the practice test. The student will be eligible to take the chapter exam once the benchmark score (80 percent) has been reached on the practice test.

The last assignment for a given unit is the unit exam. This is to be taken with no assistance from the instructor or other individuals in the class. The test is to be taken in class or in the on-campus Testing Center, and will be graded by the instructor upon completion. A conference with the student will follow to discuss the exam. If a student is successful on the exam (that is, achieved the required benchmark score of 70 percent), the student may continue on to the next unit in the course. Otherwise, the student will be required to correct any misunderstandings and attempt the exam again.

A comprehensive final exam is required for each course in developmental mathematics. It may be attempted after all unit exams have been successfully completed. A minimum passing score on the final is 60 percent.

Mastery-Based Learning in Developmental Education—Frequently Asked Questions

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

Contact:
Christopher Riola
Office: B230
(708) 974-5765 riolac@morainevalley.edu

Jenine Galka
Office: B220
(708) 608-4242 galkaj3@morainevalley.edu

Jason King
Office: B220
(708) 608-4065 kingj59@morainevalley.edu

Paula DeAnda-Shah
Office: B230
(708) 974-5329 deanda-shahp@morainevalley.edu

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