Date of Award

Spring 2000

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development


In addition to the traditional learning style, an alternative approach is mastery learning. Traditional classroom settings typically include lectures and seat work. These methods are believed to support a masculine style of learning, as they are more individualistic and competitive. Boys tend to respond to questions quickly and confidently. Girls tend to wait longer and choose words more carefully. This leads to male students dominating the classroom. Mastery learning encourages a more cooperative style of learning. Mastery learning theorizes that if students are given the necessary amount of time needed to attain a mastery of a skill, and if the student spent that much time learning the skill, then the student would reach mastery. This master thesis examined the two different testing strategies to see if mastery learning can be appropriate for use in the school system.

The study compared two testing strategies in a high school Regents chemistry class. The first allowed students to retake tests and quizzes up to three times, if desired, and the average for all taken would be recorded. The second strategy demanded an 80% or higher mastery level for each unit. Failure to reach 80% would result in a zero. Possible grades for this strategy were 0, 80, 90, and 100. Two teachers used both testing strategies using traditional methods alongside cooperative activities. Results show that there is no significant difference between testing strategies when examining exam averages and passing percentages, however students had a significantly higher percentage of achieving an 80 or higher in the mastery testing strategy. Girls in particular performed much better with the mastery strategy than with the averaging strategy.


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