How to Help Your Child Achieve Mastery Learning – This is a guest blog post written by Dr. Wanda C. Phillips, the author of the Easy Grammar series.
As the author of grammar and writing texts, I admit that I love grammar, especially the process of teaching children how to speak and to write correctly. It shouldn’t surprise you that when I began teaching during my twenties, a focus became how to help students learn easily.
Years later, as I came to understand more about the brain’s processes, my interest deepened. In fact, as I began traveling the country presenting educational seminars focusing on how to teach English effectively, I shared research findings about ways of facilitating learning.
Back then, prior to the development of advanced scientific technology, educators studied how children learned by observing them in the classroom setting. In the 1960s, professors at teacher-training colleges began to expand on techniques they found successful. In fact, a decade later, an expansion of research produced more data expressed in statistical analysis. We learned that, typically, we remember only about 10% of what we read. (I admit that this seems low.) We recall about 20% of what we hear and 30% of what we see. Further investigation revealed that retention rises to 50% when auditory and visual learning were combined. Other research reflected that students remember 90% of what they say while doing. (Click on www.easygrammar.com–“Video-Segment 2, ‘Dr. Phillips ~ A Fun Activity That Increases Learning” for a fun, kinesthetic approach!)
Of course, in the 1980s, advanced scientific technology, including the CAT scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), emerged. Excitement grew as imaging of brain activity revealed how the brain learns. Data about the learning process could be analyzed, and new-brain research offered educators new ways to offer students mastery.
Especially interesting was how information in the brain passes from neuron to neuron along dendrites and through electrical currents, or synapses; this creates learning. Important to education, researchers found that the more often we address a concept, the more likely we will remember it at mastery level. Although experts don’t always agree on how many repetitions produce particular learning, they tend to agree that each child’s learning rate is different. Obviously, the optimum times needed for mastery learning varies from child to child. Due to each child’s inherent interests, talents, etc., the rate of learning for different subjects also varies within each child.
Allow me to give you a quick example to which you can relate. Do you remember learning to tie your shoes? You may have learned the process quickly, or, like me, many “tries” were required. The ultimate result, however, was learning at the automaticity level. That’s a form of mastery!
Allow me to give you direction in selecting grammar texts. When you review them, take into account how students learn. Ask yourself if the program incorporates ideas to promote mastery learning. Does it suggest “chunking,” an effective technique for expediting learning? Does the text include a method for breaking a concept, first, into the most basic component and, then, building step-by-step (precept by precept) for ease in understanding? Does it incorporate cumulative- and cyclical-learning strategies that enhance mastery? Does it allow your child to assimilate grammar at this level with ease? Please peruse each text carefully; students should never have to struggle.
Dr. Wanda C. Phillips is the author of Easy Grammar series, Daily GRAMS: Guided Review Aiding Mastery Skills series, Easy Grammar Ultimate Series for high school, and Easy Writing. The Easy Grammar Systems website is www.easygrammar.com.