I guess the best way to describe how I feel as the year winds down is like how Dr. Frankenstein felt when his creature came alive for the first time, proving that all his hard work paid off. I am confident that Blended Honors Human Anatomy & Physiology using a bastardized version of mastery learning has created the perfect learning environment for my students.
For a run-down of how the class operates, CLICK HERE.
I just looked back at the last three years of grades for this class and found that this year’s class tied a three-year high score for semester one grades (82%). Of course there are many variables in place here, but no matter how much I compare GPAs, attendance, etc. I am confident that my students received the best education that I could provide them. Even if they happen to be a “higher class” of students, they got an experience that, I feel, has helped prepare them for the increased accountability and freedom that comes with the next step of their academic career. As I think about my seniors leaving in 3 weeks, I feel happiness and pride when I reflect on what my students accomplished, but also a little guilt. I’m glad my students were successful while rarely having to come to class. However, I know that over 90% of them are entering college next year, where most professors won’t care as much about their learning and the best methods to get students to be successful.
In years past, I ended the year lecturing for the last two units only to begin prepping my students for the nasty world of college lectures. However, I recently had some interactions with another educator on Twitter who made some really good points about preparing students for a lesser quality of education (lecture). This year, my students will not be getting any lectures to end the year in preparation for college. I feel I am doing the right thing, but it’s still hard.
As for next year, I have already been making plans for how this whole system of blended mastery learning is going to get tweaked to improve it for future students. For example, I am considering embedding shorter chunks of my instructional videos in a Google Form to include a multiple choice practice quiz on the video material. Why Google for this and not something else? Because I know Google will be free forever. Embedding videos and including a practice quiz for each gives me another chance to increase the amount of retrieval practice my students will receive to boost their learning (the link is to an article regarding this method of learning).
Although I was scared to start this new model of learning, my students absolutely stepped up and rocked it. Their efforts and willingness to try something new are what made it all work. We all learned a lot over the course of the school year. Now that the year is almost complete, I can honestly say that blended mastery learning in my Honors Human Anatomy & Physiology class is alive…and here to stay.