What is mastered in Mastery Learning?

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Conference Proceeding
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Though numbers are as yet not large, in the past two years at UTS of first-year students who studied General Mathematics, alarmingly high proportions of Science, Engineering and Mathematics students failed their first core undergraduate Mathematics subject. A similar observation holds for students with a background of General Mathematics in the subject Foundation Mathematics, a subject designed to address any gap in assumed knowledge and skills. This is deeply concerning especially as the number of students enrolling in STEM courses with backgrounds in General Mathematics is increasing. These observations are not unique to UTS – what is sometimes referred to as the mathematics problem has been reported worldwide for well over a decade. Given that some students were not bridging the gap between secondary and tertiary mathematics, Mastery Learning was introduced into a number of first year subjects. Pass rates, student satisfaction, attitudes towards learning and retention of content improved for many students. For some students, however, the outcomes were not as positive and they questioned what it was they thought they were learning. So, what is mastered in Mastery Learning?
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