The subsequent instructional approach offers a perspective that underscores the significance of effort in achieving mastery in learning. In the realm of education, all individuals initiate their journey as novices, steadily advancing towards their objectives through relentless dedication and determination (click image to enlarge).



The term "unaware," in this context, refers to a state in which an individual possesses only their current skills and lacks awareness of the significance or importance of a particular set of skills that could be beneficial to them.

For example, consider a young child observing their parent reading their favorite story; however, they are oblivious to the fact that they too will need to acquire the ability to read and write in the future.

Likewise, think about a new employee going through orientation who is unaware that, once they join the production floor, they will need to master working with a complex electronic scheduler.

When awareness of a specific set of skills is absent, the learner is in the initial stage and may not recognize the need for learning. At this juncture, it becomes imperative to establish awareness (in the second stage) so that crucial decisions related to the third stage, where actual learning commences, can be set in motion.

If awareness of a specific set of skills is not in place, the learner is in stage one and will not see the need for learning. At this point, it is necessary to establish awareness (stage two), so important decisions concerning stage three, which is where the real learning begins, can be set in motion.


Awareness is a multifaceted concept encompassing knowledge, emotions, and personal experiences. In this information age, countless entities vie for our attention, including bulletin boards, advertisements, print media, websites, and promotional materials. Their aim is to bring various topics and products to our attention.

To illustrate this, consider the mastery learning model presented here, which serves as a straightforward teaching strategy tailored for a specific audience: parents new to homeschooling. Within the seven-stage mastery learning model, the second stage is where awareness takes center stage.

Here’s what STAGE TWO: AWARENESS (SPECIFIC SKILLS) might look like:


This person has become aware of the need for learning. They now know that they need to learn:

  • Algebra 1,
  • ratios and proportions (Algebra 1),
  • solve a proportion with an unknown variable word problem (Algebra 1),
  • the fundamentals of homeschooling,
  • how to grow tomatoes.

Learning needs come in different shapes and sizes. Perhaps it’s a student learning to solve a simple word problem, a complete chapter on ratios and proportions, or an entire course of study on Algebra. Or maybe it’s a parent researching the homeschool laws. Or possibly it's the whole family gearing up to raise a garden. Regardless, all learning arrives through a learning process similar to the stages described here.

Following awareness, we embark on the decision-making process. Let's say I've resolved to delve into Algebra 1, grasp the fundamentals of homeschooling, and explore the art of tomato cultivation. The initial query that arises is whether any prerequisites exist. Indeed, prerequisites are in place.

Before tackling Algebra 1, one must complete pre-algebra. Homeschooling necessitates a prior understanding of homeschool laws. Cultivating tomatoes requires a commitment to allocate time for gardening.

Once I've confirmed that I meet all these prerequisites, I can commence assembling my resources. To excel in Algebra 1, I'll require a curriculum that enables me to systematically acquire the essential knowledge and skills. This process unfolds in subsequent stages, beginning with stage three.

Here’s a list of resources to help you get started:

  • Free Curriculum: Khan Academy provides a free curriculum that is useful as a starter or supplemental curriculum until you have had time to research your options.
  • Curriculum Research: Cathy Duffy Reviews is the best resource for making the job of selecting the right curriculum easy.
  • Educational Planning: Knowledge management tools in the form of pintable’s, downloadable forms, record keeping insights, etc. are being added to PIE’s member center for members to use freely. Contact the office for more details. PIE Member-Center
  • Research Content: a great resource for learning how to grow tomatoes, Bing helps you turn information into action, making it faster and easier to go from searching to doing.

A beginner is someone who is doing something for the first time. This means, to become a beginner, you actually have to do something – simply being aware is not enough. At this level, you will find yourself making common mistakes.

KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS ASSESSMENT: knowledge and skills useful for middle school students are critical thinking, effective communication, organization, time management, note-taking, research, study, accountability, self-awareness, and self-management skills. Rising middle school students should already be at stage four or five with many of these skills.

With the instructions in hand, the beginner advances the learning process from STAGE THREE: BEGINNER SKILL LEVEL to STAGE FOUR: INTERMEDIATE SKILL LEVEL through lots of practice and hard work.


A learner at the intermediate skill level is someone capable of doing something correctly without assistance. This means, to become a learner at the intermediate skill level, you actually have to do something the right way without someone helping. Trying to do something is not enough (you must do).

You are now capable of working your way through a problem and performing a task without intervention. You still have to concentrate diligently. You still find yourself occasionally having to work through a problem and/or task more than once. Nonetheless, you’re capable of succeeding on your own.

Learners can be at the beginner skill level, and intermediate skill level within the same instructional and/or study material at the same time. For example, you can be at the beginner skill level in chapter three of Algebra 1 and intermediate skill level in chapters one and two.

With lots of practice under the belt, the learning process advances from STAGE FOUR: INTERMEDIATE SKILL LEVEL to STAGE FIVE: ADVANCED SKILL LEVEL through more practice and hard work.


A learner at the advanced skill level can do something correctly without thinking much about it. This means, to become a learner at the advanced skill level, you can now actually do something the right way without all that concentration – the performance is now second nature.

The same rule in stage four applies here. Learners can experience all the learning stages within the same instructional and study material simultaneously. For example, while at the beginner skill level in chapter three of Algebra 1, a student can be at the intermediate skill level in chapter two and advanced skill level in chapter one.

At this point, the learning process advances from STAGE FIVE: ADVANCED SKILL LEVEL to STAGE SIX: MASTERY SKILL LEVEL through even more practice and hard work.


The term mastery skill level, as used here, describes a learner who has completed all their instructional and study material at the advanced skill level. Take Algebra 1, for example; the learner can think and solve all problems from cover to cover correctly with ease – their performance is now second nature. This learner has mastered Algebra 1 and is now ready for Algebra 2.

Eventually, all that thinking, practice, and working with knowledge is going to pay off. Reaching mastery skill level is quite an achievement for anyone, but there’s more. This is where you are going to hear more about self.


A student who operates at the reflective expert skill level demonstrates intellectual competence. Such a student embodies the traits of a mastery learner, possessing the essential cognitive abilities and knowledge required for college-level coursework. This student is renowned for their self-initiation, self-reliance, and self-reflection, and is regarded as competent to guide and support fellow students.

The reflective expert skill level primarily encompasses two fundamental facets:

  • Academic Mastery
  • Self-Actualization

Academic Mastery
Reflective experts strive for mastery in all academic subjects. At this level, learners can effortlessly analyze and solve complex problems across the entire spectrum of coursework, making it a seamless part of their intellectual repertoire.

Reflective experts are dedicated to realizing their full potential by concentrating on the development of their personal attributes and cognitive resources. Just as with their academic proficiency, they aim for mastery in their personal and intellectual growth.

  • Personal Attribute Development: Reflective experts excel in managing qualities like attentiveness, reliability, and self-motivation. They cultivate a profound self-awareness and self-regulation, possessing a clear understanding of their thought processes.
  • Cognitive Resource Development: Reflective experts excel in constructing, managing, and leveraging their cognitive resources. For instance, they are adept at optimizing learning strategies (including knowledge acquisition, critical thinking, and practice), efficiently managing knowledge, and demonstrating high proficiency in decision-making, problem-solving, and resource utilization.

For reflective experts, the focus lies in enhancing their efficiency and effectiveness in managing mental processes, accessing and applying knowledge, maintaining motivation, honing their skills, and monitoring their performance. In essence, they are students who possess the knowledge and strategies to facilitate effective learning.