Practice vs. Mastery

How do you differentiate practice vs. mastery?

Alternatively: what do assignments intended for practice look like? What do assignments intended for mastery look like? How this difference reflected in your grading policy?

4 Responses to Practice vs. Mastery

  1. Karl Mason says:

    I know this is really bad, however, what do you mean? What is practice v mastery?

  2. zshiner says:

    Daniel Schneider wrote a comment on the list of questions which made me decide to add this question to the list. From him:

    Which assignments are used for students to practice their skills (homework? formative in-class assessments?) and how are these graded (completeness? correctness? how much feedback do we give?). Do you have a philosophy about the types of assignments students should complete as they master material, versus the types of assignments students should complete to demonstrate mastery?

    Essentially, I believe most (if not all) math teachers would agree that mistakes are an essential part of learning mathematics. With that belief, we need to create a grading policy which allows for mistakes to be made without penalizing students. In some classes I have seen this in grading students on completion, others have categories such as work to support. I believe that reassessment is essential in demonstrating mastery, but clearly not all assignments should include reassessment.

    I suppose one way to interpret the question is: What assignments do you allow (encourage?) students to make mistakes on/learn from and what assignments do you hope students will do perfectly?

    By the way, Karl. I really appreciate your willingness to take the time and effort to share so many good practices. You’ve added a ton to this site and I would like to recognize you for that.

  3. Karl – I think this question stems from the rather long comment I made to the original list of questions, which the facilitators of this project were gracious enough to roll into their own list of questions.

    It stems from the following observation of classroom grading procedures (which you may disagree with): some assignments are intended for the students to practice and make mistakes, and some assignments are intended for students to demonstrate mastery. You can typically differentiate between the two based on how these assignments are weighted, whether you allow late work or for the assignment to be redone, or whether the assignments are even collected or not.

    I don’t mean to steal the thunder from the facilitators, but in my own journey in thinking about establishing a classroom, the question I have is: what do assignments intended for practice look like (homework? classwork? notebook checks?), what do assignments intended for mastery look like (tests? quizzes? homework with revision?), and is this difference reflected in your grading policy?

  4. Whoops – looks like Zac and I responded at about the same time (a 2-minute difference!). Feel free to remove my above comment, since it may be a bit redundant now…

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