Effectiveness and Challenges of Mastery Learning in Nursing Education: A systematic review


1 Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences. Instructor of Nursing faculty of AJA University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Faculty of Nursing, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Behavioral Science Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: As a large part of human resources in the health system, nurses play an important role in promoting public health. One of the ways to provide better health services is training qualified nurses. This is why mastery learning would be one of the most effective educational approaches to realize it. Despite its numerous advantages, the implementation of mastery learning is facing challenges. This study is to examine the effectiveness and the challenges of mastery learning.
Methods: This study is a systematic review with an extensive search to find articles from Persian and English databases using the keywords of “education”, “health care research”,“evaluation”, “mastery learning”, “medical education”, and “nursing education” either alone or in combination with each other in the websites of Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Scopus, Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, and SID. In this regard, 138 research papers published from 2005 to 2015 which were in line with the research question were found. After an examination, 16 articles were included in the study. The data from the articles were summarized, classified and analyzed based on the research question.
Results: Although mastery learning increases the educational effectiveness, its implementation for reasons such as the applicability to some subjects, time consumption, learners’ various individual characteristics, talented students’ lagging behind other learners, frequent formative assessments, and frequent test-designing require more efforts both by the teacher and the learners.
Conclusion: Students raised through this method are competent students having the minimum requirements to perform their duties in the future. Therefore, proper curriculum design, introduction of this approach to teaching institutions and learners, empowerment of teachers, and pilot studies related to the solutions to address its challenges could help in exploiting this approach in theoretical and clinical education.