What is Mastery Grading and Why it's a Good Idea?

On March 30, 2021, the Center of Excellence in Teaching and Learning held a workshop titled "What is Mastery Grading, and Why is it a Good Idea?" presented by Jeff Ford, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Statistics at Gustavus Adolphus College.

A common question in education is deciding if a student's grade in a course really reflects their mastery of the course content. Whether achievement gaps are reflective of what students have learned or how they are graded is a question worth asking. Mastery grading, standards-based grading, and specification grading, are all names for an approach to course design that addressed this problem. We will discuss the merits of this system and how it can improve equity in higher education. We will spend some time looking at examples of how the method is implemented, and discuss how faculty who are interested can get started with mastery grading.