Mastery of Learning

It is my firm belief that if young people learn deeply and are able to use their learning within different contexts, they will have a better chance of gaining the grades they require when taking an exam. I believe we owe it to our young people to give them a fuller educational experience! Mastery of learning can be based around three stages of learning. Following a conversation with a colleague a few days ago we came up with these terms:

Practising – Learners are introduced to a piece of knowledge, skill or competence. They have a go at applying it themselves in a given learning situation.
Developing – Learners are then given the opportunity to use this again in a different scenario or set of circumstances, which applies more challenge and deeper thinking to the learning.
Mastery – Learners are finally given the opportunity to apply this learning to a completely different scenario where they have to think outside the box and use the learning in a completely different way. This is where real challenge and critical thinking have to be adopted by the learner. It may even involve teaching and leading other learners.

Learners will therefore complete a piece of learning three times in increasingly challenging scenarios to show that they have achieved mastery of their learning. In previous blogs I have discussed engaging learners by making the learning real to them and applying it to the real world. Mastery of learning would be achieved in the same way. I would personally link more and more to real world situations throughout this process.

Mastery of learning is based around adding additional challenge for the young person at each stage rather than giving "more of the same”, which will ultimately become boring for the learner over time. This learning philosophy naturally lends itself to differentiation. You may wish to move some learners very quickly into the developmental phase based on previous knowledge or ability.

The Wider Key Skills qualification from ASDAN provides the framework for mastery of learning to take place.

This is a quick example from a previous lesson that I have taught in a school setting. Learners are introduced to the Wider Key Skill of Problem Solving (could also be applied to Improving Own Learning or Working With Others) and the learner would gain some basic knowledge of problems. They would then come up with problems that they have encountered or are currently encountering in their lives (Practising). Learners would then be asked to apply this learning to a specific problem of their choosing. They would look at relevant options to solve the problem, before choosing one way of solving the problem and carry it out (Developing). As part of the qualification learners need to solve a second problem, making improvements and refining their knowledge to use in a different scenario (Mastery). The mastery stage involves critical analysis of the scenario and develops life and work skills needed for the 21st century.

This philosophy also meets the outstanding grade descriptors as identified by Ofsted for teaching, learning and assessment.

By Gareth Lewis, ASDAN National Development Co-ordinator (@GarethLewis76)

Author: Gareth Lewis, Former ASDAN National Development Co-ordinator

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