Mastery Learning/Gamification – Does It Motivate?

August 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm 1 comment

This semester I have made a few changes to my Intermediate Algebra class.

  • I am flipping the class – Students work on definitions, introductory problems, and prerequisite skills. Class time is divided between short “lectures” and group learning assignments.
  • I am “gamifying” the class – Based on input from my aspiring game designer son (Check out his web site ) and Aaron Dignan’s book Game Frame, I have added elements to my class that should add fun to it. I understand that math class may never be as fun as the best video games but I am giving it my best shot.
  • I have added mastery learning concepts to the class – Students have the opportunity to rework homework and quizzes until reaching a satisfactory score (90% for HW, 70% for quizzes). Students who have satisfactory homework/quiz scores but do not pass the exam qualify to retake the exam 1 week later. (See this blog for a breakdown on how the tests work.)

We are barely 1 week in, so it is too early to tell if this will be effective. Early returns look promising, however. Only 1 student in a class of nearly 50 students did not achieve a satisfactory score on the first assignment, and over 40% of the students earned a satisfactory score on the second homework assignment before I even covered the material in class! The students seem to be motivated and engaged, which was my ultimate goal. I’ll update the class’s status as the semester progresses.

If you have any experience with flipping a class (the inverted classroom), gamifying your class (or gamifying anything), or mastery based learning, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment, or you can email me directly though the contact page on my website.

– George

I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. If there’s a particular topic you’d like me to address, or if you have a question or a comment, please let me know. You can reach me through the contact page on my website –


Entry filed under: General Teaching, Math. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Andy Hynds  |  August 23, 2011 at 7:54 am

    I began using mastery learning last spring with favorable results. Students liked having the opportunity to “prove” mastery of a concept first, and the students who struggled appreciated having the opportunity to retry a concept. The only issue I ran into was students who would retry the same quiz over and over again with scores well below passing who would not stop to receive assistance. I’m still working on a way to fix that.


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