Another important element to motivation in learning is mastery. Mastery is the ability to get better and better at a task, while starting at a level that is appropriate for the learner. And there is nothing that exemplifies how motivating mastery is to learning than video games.
Video games have a number of levels that allow users to gradually improve their skills, and video games can have an almost addictive quality to them. But how does our public and especially secondary education system promote mastery? It really doesn’t. We tend to learn something, take a test on it, and then move on to the next topic. Never really achieving mastery.
Educational software can promote mastery through the use of games in learning but also with tutorials, drill-and-practice, and modeling and simulation software. A key problem today is that many students who attend college are having to take remedial courses especially in the areas of Math and English Language Arts.
Another problem is that many high achieving students are not making it through Engineering and STEM degree programs. These are students who got high grades and test scores in high school. In high school, and especially in regards to education reform, the emphasis is being focused on pace, but what about depth?
A student progressing quickly through a math class should be given even more difficult problems in order to truly achieve mastery. A quick grasp of new material and then a test, even with a high score, may not be enough.