December 21, 2022
If you learn quickly, you are smart. If you learn slowly you are … dumb. This is the message we send to students every day in schools across the globe. I don’t believe that statement is true. Do you?
Sadly, every time students are only given one chance to take a major test, that notion is reinforced. Every time students take timed admissions exams or are given one attempt to demonstrate mastery, we reinforce this untrue statement.
Parisa Rouhani’s 2019 doctoral dissertation at Harvard University studied students in a self-directed mastery course and found that speed of learning is not the key factor in achievement. In her conclusion, she states:
What really mattered for performance in a course was not how much time it took for the student to learn, but rather, how much of the material was mastered, irrespective of time. Students varied in how long they spent learning material and taking assessments, but the variation did not affect performance. Mastery was the variable that mattered.
Time was not the variable. Mastery was. Or as I read this study, those that learn fast don’t necessarily learn better or deeper. But when students…