Hi Jesse, Thanks for a wonderful post. Shouldn’t an ideal system expect mastery? Shouldn’t we be able to say what a graduate has demonstrated the ability to do something? I would say a resounding yes. I think there are different understanding and interpretation of mastery, though. For instance, at an expert level, our concept of mastery may be the fulfillment of all performance criteria as stipulated in the standards, or learning outcomes. Under our existing education system, how is mastery learning measured? Even the researches done by Benjamin Bloom was based on quizzes and Multiple Choices. Though one could argue that in MOOCs, mastery learning is pedagogy that best suits its purpose, by drilling, quizzes, MC, T/F to check and test the understanding of concepts or “knowledge”. But then this doesn’t really mean that the students have mastered the learning a deeper sense, by applying those concepts in various contexts, or projects etc.
May I share here? So, in the case of mastery of essay writings and blog posting, our definition of mastery learning, what we are looking for would be mastery learning based on deep learning, with the acquisition of more advanced skills of synthesis and evaluation, and the creation and curation of posts etc. That may also require students to work in cooperation and collaboration with others through joint blog posting, wiki/Google writing projects and research.
What does a “C” grade say to the student, and what does that component say to a future employer? To me, that is a very good question. I would say C grade means what a C grade represents, based on the performance standard in education, no more or less.