Australia’s national education evidence body
Planning and sequencing units to progress student learning

Overview

Mastery learning is a way of designing units of work so that each set of tasks focuses on a particular learning objective and students must master a task to move onto the next one. By monitoring student progress through informal and formal assessments, teachers can provide additional support or enrichment to students depending on their level of mastery.

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Mastery learning is related to Focus Area 3.2: Plan, structure and sequence learning programs in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

Research

Mastery learning has a strong evidence base that meets AERO’s highest standards of evidence. For more information about the evidence base, see below:

Tried and Tested practice guide

This guide outlines evidence-based practices for implementing mastery learning in the classroom.

Annotated reference list

An overview of the research evidence cited throughout our mastery learning resources.

Mastery learning is effective across a variety of contexts 

To understand whether mastery learning is effective across a variety of contexts, AERO conducted a review of 81 studies. The review found that mastery learning is an effective teaching practice across a variety of contexts and for different subgroups of students. Studies conducted across various locations suggest that mastery learning: 

  • has a positive impact on achievement in mathematics, sciences, social studies and English and foreign languages  
  • works for primary and secondary students 
  • is effective particularly for lower achieving students, with higher achieving students also benefitting. 

Because of this, mastery learning is likely to work in most contexts.  

Using the practice

To be effective, mastery learning needs to be implemented well. See below some ‘things to know’ when using the practice.

Snapshots of practice

Mastery learning may look different in different contexts. See below examples of Mastery learning in a variety of classrooms and settings:

Example of practice

Use this example of practice to think about how to use mastery learning in your own context.

Mastery learning at Trinity College

See how Mastery Learning is implemented in different classrooms at Trinity College.

Implementation tools

Here you will find tools to help you implement mastery learning in your classroom or setting.

Implementation checklist

Practical steps you can take to support the use of mastery learning in your setting.

Free high-quality curriculum resources

AERO has partnered with Ochre Education to provide Australian teachers free access to hundreds of high-quality curriculum resources to help drive excellence and equity in educational outcomes.

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