Mastery Learning HandbookWhen providing feedback on your paper, I usually include a grid with Context along the left margin and Content across the top–questions about the book (view this video Make It Happen–Feedback with Thinking Maps). Because Mastery Learning Handbook provides book study questions at the end of each chapter, it seems an opportune time to provide you a choice option. Rather than have me as instructor ask five of my questions, I will ask you to choose at least five question clusters from the study guide (no two from the same chapter cluster). Clearly identify which question clusters and chapter you are addressing. Be sure to specifically cite elements of the book in your writing, and include elements from at least one article or video from the course readings that relate to the book. Also include integration ideas you have for your classroom setting.
Five to eight pages – label it JPrepU1AsgmtMasteryLearning and be sure to include your name in the name of the file (e.g. JPrepU1AsgmtMasteryLearning – Lennie Symes).

Feedback Guide to Mastery Learning Handbook

For your convenience, below is the list of the Book Study Questions from the book:

Book Study Questions



Chap 1


  1. How do you relate to Corey and Tim’s situation?
  2. To what extent does your class have varied readiness groups?
  3. How successful have you been in teaching to the variety of learners in your class?
  4. What from Jon’s journey resonates with you?
  5. To what extent are you feeling burned out in teaching?
  6. What are you looking forward to in this book after reading the Introduction?

Chapter 1. The Promise of Mastery Learning

  1. Reflect on or write down questions about the definition of mastery learning after reviewing the following key phrases it contains:
    a. “… that empowers every student …”
    b. “The teacher uses flexible pacing …”
    c. “… through a cyclic process …”
    d. “… until there is a mutual agreement between the teacher and individual student …”
  2. To what extent have you heard about or implemented mastery/competency-based learning?
  3. What surprised you about the history of mastery learning?
  4. Benjamin Bloom’s 2 Sigma Problem is a clarion call to educators. Is this just a pipe dream, or do you have hope that you can create a 2 sigma class? Explain.
  5. The section titled “What Mastery Learning Looks Like” list 10 features of a mastery learning class. Which of these excites you the most? Why?
  6. If you adopt mastery learning, you will have to change your role. Which of the five changes listed in this chapter is most uncomfortable to you? Why?
  7. In the section titled “The Right Strategy for the Right Time,” which of the reasons for trying master learning is most compelling to you? Why?

Book Study Questions

Chap 2


Chap 3

Chapter 2. Setting the Stage for Mastery Learning

  1. Although flipped learning isn’t necessary for mastery learning, the book contends that it makes mastery learning much easier. To what extent have you implemented flipped learning in the past?
  2. Many educators think they understand flipped learning. What surprised you about the explanation of flipped learning in this chapter?
  3. How familiar are you with “backward design.” If you aren’t familiar with it, what about this planning strategy is appealing to you? Why?
  4. How long are your typical units? Do you have an idea of how you might modify your current units into mastery units?
  5. What are your first impressions of the Mastery Learning Cycle?

Chapter 3. Creating Mastery Spaces

  1. To what extent is your current classroom conducive to mastery learning?
  2. Make a sketch of your classroom similar to the diagrams you find in Figures 3.1–3.4.
  3. On your diagram, designate areas for the different elements of a mastery space mentioned in the chapter.
  4. What tips for maximizing space mentioned in this chapter could you try in your classroom?

Book Study Questions

Chap 4

Chap 5

Chap 6

Chapter 4. Big Picture Planning

  1. What parts of the Mastery Learning Cycle do you already have in place?
  2. What parts of the Mastery Learning Cycle do you need to work on?
  3. What are your first impressions of the Mastery Unit Planning Template?
  4. As stated in the book, your initial efforts to implement mastery learning are more likely to succeed if you take one of your existing units and convert it to a mastery learning unit. Choose a unit to convert, and have its details available (as digital files or paper copies) so that you can design your own Mastery Learning Plan.

Chapter 5. Developing Clear Objectives and the Mastery Rubric

  1. To what extent have you already developed clear objectives for you course/class?
  2. Do you use driving questions in your planning, and do you find them helpful? If you do not currently use driving questions, examine the unit you’ve identified for mastery conversion and write aa driving question for it.
  3. Comment on how Andrew Swan reworded his standards into “kid-friendly” language. Do you do this yourself, and what effect has it has?
  4. Take one of the standards that apply to your unit and rewrite it into a kid-friendly version.
  5. Looking at your curricular materials, do you have clear objectives already established? If so, use these in your Mastery Learning Plan.
  6. Take some time to create your Mastery Rubric. Notice that the template introduced in this chapter has three levels of mastery, but you may want to have fewer or more. This is the chance for you to design your rubric to suit the needs of your students

Chapter 6. Planning Your Mastery Assessments

  • Despite his embrace of backward design, Jon confesses to sometimes developing his unit assessments after he’s finished planning the unit’s lessons. When do you typically develop your assessments? Have you seen a difference in your teaching and your students learning depending on the timing of your assessment development?
  • Where do you stand on the issue of using or not using summative assessments?
  • What do you think of the tips for creating mastery learning assessments? Which of these practices do you already follow, and which are new to you? Which do you think will be most helpful, and why?
  • Where do you stand on the issue of allowing students to retake summative assessments?
  • Add your summative assessment plan into your Mastery Learning Rubric.

Book Study Questions

Chap 7
Chap 8
Chap 9

Chapter 7. Creating Tools for Formative Assessment

  1. How do you compare the lesson planning sequence presented in this chapter to sequences that you have used in the past?
  2. Formative “mastery checks” are an integral part of mastery learning. Which of the method(s) discussed in the chapter—student-taught content, paper assessments, online checks, student-led questioning, whiteboard assessments, and microconversations—make(s) the most sense in your context? Why?
  3. What technology tools do you have, or do you need, to implement mastery learning in your classroom.
  4. Add your formative assessment plan to your Mastery Unit Plan.

Chapter 8. Creating Independent-Space Learning Objects

  1. Using your own words, define “independent learning-space object.”
  2. Review Figure 8.1, which compares text and video prework. Are there any other advantages or disadvantages you see for text versus video prework?
  3. What type of prework (video or text) do you anticipate using the most? Why?
  4. How confident are you about creating your own video prework? What are your strengths and weaknesses in this area?
  5. In the “Best Practices for Video Content” section, what elements surprised you the most?
  6. If you have created videos for students in the past, what mistakes did you make? How do you know they were mistakes?
  7. What is your reaction to subsection discussion of social learning? What ideas do you have for making independent-space learning social?
  8. How will you track student progress in the independent space?
  9. If you plan to create your own videos, how will you do that? What tools will you use, and how will you post videos for your students to access?
  10. What about the discussion of text-based prework surprised you the most?
  11. Make sure you add your independent-space learning plan to your Mastery Unit Plan

Chapter 9. Creating Group-Space Learning Objects

  1. The key to quality and effective group-space learning objects is to have engaging activities for students. What activities do you do now in class that your students have found particularly engaging? Make a list.
  2. Looking at the list you created, do you see a theme or pattern? If so, what is it?
  3. Review the list of group-space activities. Which do you think you’ll use the most? Why?
  4. Examine your individual lessons and add your group-space learning plan to your Mastery Unit Plan.

Book Study Questions

Chap 10
Chap 11
Chap 12

Chapter 10. Creating Reflection Opportunities

  1. Do you currently ask your students to reflect on their learning as part of every class? If so, what methods or prompts do you use?
  2. If you don’t have students reflect after every class, what are your thoughts on that practice now, after reading this chapter?
  3. Add your refection plan to your Mastery Unit Plan

Chapter 11. Assessing Mastery

  1. Comment on the positives and negatives of paper assessments versus digital assessments.
  2. How will you ensure test security when you have multiple versions of your assessments?
  3. What else in this chapter challenged your thinking about assessment? Explain.

Chapter 12. Providing Remediation and Feedback

  1. One of the top issues in mastery learning is how and when to provide remediation to struggling students. Did anything in this chapter prompt you to rethink how you could provide appropriate remediation? What might you do differently going forward?
  2. Which of the remediation strategies presented in this chapter seems most doable for you in your context? Explain in writing how you will implement remediation.
  3. Review the section on helper videos. This is a strategy teachers could employ even outside a mastery learning context. How could you implement it in your classroom tomorrow? What software tool would you use?
  4. Add your remediation plan to your Mastery Unit Plan.

Book Study Questions

Chap 13

Chap 14

Chap 15

Chapter 13. What Everyday Mastery Learning Looks Like

  1. This chapter provides a timeline for how a typical day in a mastery classroom unfolds. Sketch out a “daily flow” for your class, similar to the one shown in Figure 13.1. Annotate it to indicate how many minutes you would spend on each activity.
  2. What do you think of the author’s contention that the first five minutes of a mastery class are the most important? Return to the timeline you created and think about how you might flesh out the opening of your class and maximize this critical time.

Chapter 14. Managing Students Who Master Quickly

  1. Mastery learning has proven to be especially effective for student who struggle and less effective for students who are ready for enrichment. Why do you think this is the case?
  2. Which of the strategies explored in this chapter seem the most doable for you in your context?

Chapter 15. Grading for Mastery

  1. What expectations does your school have for you when it comes to grading?
  2. Given your context, write out your plan for how you will grade mastery learning.
  3. What did you think of the “grid method?” Do you see this working well in your classroom? Why or why not?

Book Study Questions

Chap 16



Chapter 16. How to Stick with Mastery Learning and Not Give Up

  1. What will be your plan when students fall behind?
  2. Do you agree with the author’s take on why students fall behind? Explain.
  3. What will be your plan when students get ahead?
  4. What will be your plan for pacing so that you don’t have too many students at too many places in your curriculum?
  5. What will be your plan for tracking mastery learning? Will you do this on paper? Use technology? If you use a tech tool, which will you use and why?
  6. How will you determine which students to help and when to help them?
  7. Drowning in paperwork is a real thing for teachers. What about the discussion resonates the most with you? How will you limit the amount of paperwork in your classroom?
  8. Do you have a colleague you can team up with to try mastery learning? If so, send them an email right now and start making plans!
  9. How will you organize your mastery materials? Sketch out some plans.
  10. How will you handle students who struggle and blame mastery learning for their difficulties?
  11. How will you get buy-in from both your students and their parents?
  12. This chapter covers a long list of issues that could complicate implementation of mastery learning. Which do you think you’ll be most likely to encounter in your context? How prepared do you feel to handle these issues, and where might you go to find more ideas and resources?


  1. React to the story about anesthesia and antiseptics. What parallels do you see to your own experiences with systematic educational change?
  2. Are you ready to change? On a scale of 1–10 (with 10 = “I’m all in” and 1 = “I can’t do this”), how confident are you that mastery learning is in your future?
  3. If you got this far and have completed this entire study guide, author Jon Bergmann would like to hear from you and see your Mastery Unit Plan! Please go to to both submit your plan and reach out to him with any questions have.