How Mastery Learning Creates a Culture of Collaboration in Your Class | Jon Bergmann | 6 Min Read

Have you ever been in a class where you had to work in a group and you did all of the work? Have you assigned group work and seen students letting others do the work for them? Collaborative groups sound like a good idea, but we all know that things can go south pretty fast if students don’t or won’t work effectively in teams. It turns out that Mastery Learning classrooms are ideally suited for students working together effectively

When done well, collaborative groups can be magical and amazing. In this article, we will learn how to ensure that your students work well together and how some inherent aspects of Mastery Learning make groups more effective. 

This article is one in a series where we will discuss how you can make mastery learning a reality. In this series, I am sharing how I, and thousands of other teachers, have transformed classrooms into a place where every student succeeds. In my previous articles, I gave an overview of Mastery Learning, then we learned that you don’t have to lecture to the whole class at the same time ever again, how to create a flexible pace for other students, Extreme Differentiation that Doesn’t Drive You Crazy, and Purposeful Teacher-Student Interactions Every Day – Really!  If you haven’t yet read the other articles, I encourage you to go back so you can see the progression of how to do Mastery Learning well.

Creating a Collaborative Culture

In 2013 Katherine Bielaczyc, a researcher at Clark University identified four key characteristics of an effective collaborative group:

  • Diversity of expertise in the group
  • A shared objective of continually advancing the collective knowledge and skills
  • An emphasis on learning how to learn
  • Mechanisms for sharing what is learned

By design, a Mastery Learning classroom starts with shared objectives. In my class, I create specific targets for students to attain in order to demonstrate mastery. It becomes a team effort where students naturally work together. Instead of a student vs teacher mentality that often arises in many classrooms, it is the students and the teacher working together to achieve mastery. This may seem subtle, but don’t miss this point. When I taught traditionally, students would complain about my tests or my class. They might say, “have you taken Bergmann’s test.”  Now they see that I am here to coach them…

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Jon Bergmann

Jon Bergmann is one of the pioneers of the Flipped Class Movement. Jon is leading the worldwide adoption of flipped learning by working with governments, schools, corporations, and education non-profits. Jon is coordinating or guiding flipped learning initiatives around the globe including China, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, the Middle East, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Canada, South America, and the United States. Jon is the author of 10 books including the bestselling book: Flip Your Classroom which has been translated into 10 languages. He has been an educator since 1986. He has served as a middle and high school science teacher, the lead technology facilitator for a school district in the Chicago suburbs, as well as a consultant/public speaker. He currently is teaching science and leading staff development at Houston Christian High School.