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Community Contributor

How is your school using Learning Mastery?

Hello Canvas Community,

My 6-12 school has been trying to implement Learning Mastery and Competency-based grading the past few years, trying out a variety of platforms. I think we have finally settled on Canvas since it is an LMS that gets a lot of things right for us, but Learning Mastery has been a challenge since switching to Canvas. (It's about to be our 3rd year on the platform.)

I'm on the Canvas team at my school and we're struggling with mastery grading. For us, Canvas's Learning Mastery gradebook feels like less of a gradebook and more of just a tool to use alongside the traditional gradebook to track individual student and class progress on individual Learning Outcomes. While as a teacher that can be valuable data, there is little in the way of summarizing the data to see overall mastery for a particular student. We've had to shift away from using Learning Mastery because there is no practical/automated way to use it to summarize a student's progress or generate a final grade, since the reality is that our school still needs to calculate and report out traditional grades.

My question for everyone is: how is your school using Learning Mastery?

  • How do you/your students use it on a day-to-day basis?
  • Do you use it for calculating grades? If so, how?
  • What tips do you have about effectively implementing Learning Mastery through Canvas?
  • Are there any LTIs available for Canvas that help support Learning Mastery?

If you have time to read about my school's implementation below: what tips do you have for us to look into?

Sort of related: does anyone have an idea of how widespread Learning Mastery use is across Canvas? I've seen a lot of great idea submissions for Learning Mastery improvements here on the Community, but they rarely seem to get a lot of attention.

I'll share a bit about where I'm at right now to give some context about how my school is attempting to use it. If you have any input, I would greatly appreciate it.

We spent a year using the Learning Mastery gradebook exclusively for grading. We disabled final grade calculation for the traditional gradebook in the settings and went all-in on Learning Mastery. However, this required putting their Outcome results into spreadsheets and calculating grades manually for progress reports. This was not a very transparent process for the students, parents, or teachers since this process took time, didn't exist anywhere inside of Canvas, and was only done at progress reporting intervals.

This past year, we settled on a hybrid gradebook by requiring that every assignment be graded on a rubric that is tied to Outcomes and using point values on that to calculate a final grade. Their final grade was just the average of all of the points they've scored on their rubrics.

The rubrics are aligned on a 4.0 GPA scale. Each rubric level we use essentially represented a different letter grade level, since we are required to report out traditional grades. However, due to Canvas's calculation methods, our Mastery aligned with a 3.18/4 (B) or higher on Outcomes. This meant it was impossible for students to earn a "Exceeds Mastery" since it is Mastery * 1.5. This somewhat limited our ability to easily identify students who were at Exceeds Mastery on the Learning Mastery gradebook.

Thank you for your time in reading this, if you have any input on my questions above or any ideas for what we can look into for next year, I would really appreciate it.

Thank you for your thoughts,

Alex Wolfe

1 Reply
Community Contributor

Hi  @awolfe ,

Great questions. We have one or two schools at our institution who have expressed interest in Outcomes, so I don't have a lot to say about our experiences just yet.

In the meantime, this is what I noticed in the Learning Mastery Gradebook (please let me know if this makes sense to you):

The filters of:

  • Exceeds Mastery,
  • Meets Mastery,
  • Near Mastery,
  • Well Below Mastery

...seem to be generic markers used to determine, at a glance, who may be doing well or needs extra help.

If you are assessing with 100 pts = 100% =  A+ = 4, and Exceeds Mastery = Mastery * 1.5, then, in the context of those LMG filters, that's approximately putting Mastery into the 60% -  66% range. However, your actual outcome criteria and custom mastery achievements would be displayed in the LMG pie charts and your account reports.

Does that sound about right? I'd appreciate your feedback at this early stage of our Outcomes experiences. 

Best regards,