INTRODUCTION
Potential students need to be guided by teachers to give them the exposure and knowledge to ensure that they can contribute towards the economic development of Malaysia. For this reason, Malaysia needs to prepare skilled workers like accountants, lawyers and a lot more semiskilled workers in a short period of time. Thus, education has become one of the most important avenues for preparing quality human capital. One of the responsible agents in education is teachers in schools. Effective teachers are those who are well trained in teaching methodologies. There are several teaching methodologies that effective teachers could use in their classrooms.
One of them is mastery learning teaching method that is considered as easy to apply in many teaching and learning settings. However, the success of a mastery learning depends on the how teachers implement them. Based on a study by Hanuni on 215 students and 20 teachers who taught the Principles of Accounting subject found that 52.8% of the students having serious problems in learning the subject. One of the reasons for that was during the process of teaching and learning, 18.3% of the students stated that they did not understand the lessons taught and 60.5% of the teachers did not use more active teaching techniques. They usually used lecture, drill and doing a lot of exercises methods. According to Mohd Majid Konting, teachers should change their examoriented teaching strategies to strategies that are more appropriate to the needs of students. Zahara also stated that teachers should adopt various teaching methods to encourage active involvement among students in the teaching and learning process.
Mohd Salleh and Ang Huat Bin both agreed that effective teaching strategies were necessary in realizing the different abilities of students. The mastery learning teaching method used by teachers could help them to gauge the level of skills that students have acquired before they can advance to a higher level of skills. Thus in learning a subject matter, students must 1st learn the terminologies, the basic concepts and the procedures before applying those basic ingredients to novel problems in daily life. This concept of mastery learning was introduced by Benjamin Bloom in the 1960s based on the principles of a learner can master knowledge if he or she is given enough time to learn it and if the teaching and learning process used to teach it is appropriate. Bloom states that if a learner proves that he or she is able to complete a given task, chances are he or she can do the following task with success too.
The ability to complete one task to another will motivate and increase his or her confidence to keep learning the next task. Block then identified three main characteristics of mastery learning such as encourage learners to move on to the next learning task, provide learners with the time they need to master a knowledge and lastly inform learners their level of achievement and what to expect in the next step.
The mastery learning method divides subject matter into units that have predetermined objectives or unit expectations. Students, alone or in groups, work through each unit in an organized fashion. Students must demonstrate mastery on unit exams, typically 80% before moving on to new material. Students who do not achieve mastery receive remediation through tutoring, peer monitoring, small group discussions or additional homework. Additional time for learning is prescribed for those requiring remediation. Students continue the cycle of studying and testing until mastery is met. Block states that students with minimal prior knowledge of material have higher achievement through mastery learning than with traditional methods of instruction.
According to the Curriculum Development Department in the Ministry of Education,
Malaysia (2003) mastery learning allows a normal learner to learn what is taught
to them with ease because their teachers will divide learning tasks into a few
small units of learning activities. There are various models of mastery learning
put forward by researchers such as Block (1973) and
Bloom (1968). In general, they are almost the same and
follow some general steps. Mastery learning consists of several steps for teachers
to implement in the classroom. The 1st step involves determining the learning
outcomes that teachers want students to achieve at the end of each mastery learning
unit.
The purpose of this step is to help the students to be clear of what he or
she has to master or acquire and focus on specific content to learn. In the
2nd step, teachers, they should plan specific teaching strategies or techniques
for the particular unit and prepare relevant formative and summative test. Besides,
teachers must show their interest in the students learning effort and try to
encourage them to go through each unit with success. In the 3rd step, teachers
should evaluate students’ achievement at the end of each unit of mastery
learning. In the 4th step, teachers should identify those students who have
not achieved the predetermined learning outcome for the purpose of providing
remedial activities. However, those students who had achieved the learning outcome
should be given enrichment activities. Dick and Reiser pointed out that learners
need to be provided with extra activities to allow them more chance to master
a knowledge. Thus, teachers should prepare themselves with more challenging
activities to encourage students to think and solve their learning problems.
Lucas and Mladenovic (2004) supported this view by adding
that teachers should provide students with a variety of learning tasks to direct
them to a learning goal. Consequently, students should be evaluated to determine
the extent of their learning status.
The purpose of mastery learning is to set a learning target for a student to achieve. Therefore, teachers should prepare a teaching and learning process which allows students to progress from one learning objective to another. In other words, teachers should structure his or her teaching materials according to the time needed to master a knowledge and the level of ability of the students. In principle, mastery learning teaching strategy should allow students to achieve a learning objective if given the same topic and tasks if given flexible time to learn if learn according to individual ability and pace if given structured learning tasks and if monitored appropriately and given constant feedback. In mastery learning teaching method, a teacher should aim students to achieve 80% of the total marks.
He or she can start with 50% 1st while slowly increasing the achieving marks
to 80%. In planning this kind of teaching method, teachers can use several strategies
according to the needs of the students such as inquiry, constructivism, contextual
learning, interactive learning, cooperative learning, experiments, discussion,
simulation, project or field work. Carpenter and Schulz (1991)
strongly suggests that cooperative learning strategy should be used in the mastery
learning teaching method because students can master a knowledge in groups rather
than individually. Joseph Low had proven in his study that cooperaive learning
was effective in a mastery learning session. As Bloom said:
He also proposes that mastery learning is more effective if used in the teaching
of science and mathematics because the contents are more organized and sequenced.
Several research had been conducted on mastery learning teaching method’s
effectiveness and the results were sometimes contradicted. For example, Slavin
(1991) reported that the students’ learning success was due to the
cooperative learning strategy that was integrated in the mastery learning method.
However, Noraini Atan reported that it was the mastery learning method that
was effective in allowing students’ to achieve better.
Mohd Salleh on the hand believed that the structured and sequenced learning tasks in the mastery learning are effective for selfpaced learning on the part of the students. Anderson and Block stated that there are two approaches that can be used in teaching using mastery learning method. They are groupbased and teacherpaced approach and individualbased and learnerpaced approach. In the groupbased and teacherpaced approach, students learn in a cooperative manner while the teacher controls his or her teaching pace.
In the individualbased and learnerpaced approach, students learn on their
own while controlling the pace of their own learning. This approach is based
on the Personalized System of Instruction (PSI) as introduced by Keller. Guskey
and Gates (1986) did a metaanalysis study of mastery learning on 27 research
relating to students’ achievements, students’ enhancements, time factor
on students’ learning and also teacher factor conclude that students who
went through mastery learning programs at all levels showed an increased in
their learning compared to students in the traditional learning method. Furthermore,
their analysis found out that mastery learning allows students to like the subject
matter better to have good selfesteem to have more selfconfidence about their
academic achievements to feel that the subject matter they are learning is important
to take responsibility of their own learning and finally to have positive attitudes
towards what they have to learn.
In another case, Guskey and Pigott (1988) studied one
thousand research articles relating to groupbased mastery learning. They finally
came down to 46 articles with the conclusion that there were certain criteria
for a groupbased mastery learning to be successful. Those criteria were teachers
must provide very clear steps how to do groupbased mastery learning and students’
learning outcome must be measured. Fuchs et al. (1986)
studied the effectiveness of mastery learning on students with low achievements
found out that the experimental group treated with the method scored better
that the control group.
In Malaysian setting, mastery learning teaching method was 1st introduced by the Curriculum Development Center (CDC) at the Ministry of Education in 1997. CDC had prepared a series of guidelines on how to conduct mastery learning teaching method in the classroom for teachers. However, research relating to the effectiveness of mastery learning in Malaysian classrooms is still lacking. The few existing ones had shown that mastery learning is effective in increasing students’ learning achievements. Faridah had conducted an action research on eighty form five students in three different classes of a high school for learning science subjects. She found out that the students’ interest towards the subject matter increased after using mastery learning teaching method on them. She realized that the students interest increased when they could understand the subject matter through the mastery learning units. They were motivated to move on to the next unit when they had finished the earlier unit with better test results. Norma studied the effectiveness of mastery learning on two special children with learning disability. She also found out these two students were more interested in learning the mathematics subject than before. Marina on the other hand studied the same situation on 63 form four students for learning Physics subject. She also found out that the experimental group scored higher than the control group who received traditional method of teaching.
Teachers readiness to use a certain method is measured based on his or her knowledge, skills and attitude towards it. Shulman outlines seven categories of knowledge that teachers should acquire before they can implement a certain method of teaching. The categories are knowledge of the content of a subject, general pedagogical knowledge, knowledge about the curriculum of a subject such as what should be taught, what materials should be used and what prerequisite knowledge that students should know, specific pedagogical content knowledge, students’ characteristics, knowledge about the educational context involved and knowledge about the purpose, values and philosophy of education.
Aminah stated that teachers who have a repertoire of pedagogical knowledge will be able to choose which method is suitable for which topic of teaching and what objectives of learning to be achieved. Grossman also pointed out that the combining the concept of pedagogical content knowledge and teachers’ professionalism based on their knowledge of subject matter content, curriculum, general pedagogy, students’ characteristics and educational context and purpose could produced a very effective teacher.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The design of this study was a survey method. A questionnaire was developed to measure the teachers’ readiness in using mastery learning approach when teaching the Principles of Accounting subject. The questionnaire consists of four different sections such as the demography, teachers’ readiness level in terms of knowledge, skills and attitude towards mastery learning approach in teaching. A Likert scale of 15 was used for each item responses where appropriate. The population of the study consists of 125 teachers who taught the Principles of Accounting subject in all the secondary schools in Negri Sembilan. However, 80 teachers teaching the subject were randomly selected from the 85 secondary schools within the 7 districts in the state of Negri Sembilan. This state is located in the middle of the Peninsular Malaysia.
The following hypotheses were developed to find out teachers’ readiness
in using the mastery learning approach for teaching the Principles of Accounting
subject at secondary schools:
H_{0}1 
: 
There is no significant difference in the readiness level
of the Principles of Accounting teachers’ attitude towards mastery
learning approach based on gender 
H_{0}2 
: 
There is no significant difference in the readiness level of the Principles
of Accounting teachers’ attitude towards mastery learning approach
based on age 
H_{0}3 
: 
There is no significant difference in the readiness level of the Principles
of Accounting teachers’ attitude towards mastery learning approach
based on teaching options 
H_{0}4 
: 
There is no significant difference in the readiness level of the Principles
of Accounting teachers’ attitude towards mastery learning approach
based on years of teaching experience 

RESULTS
This study discussed the finding of a study on several hypotheses to find out to what extend Malaysian teachers are ready to implement the mastery learning method for teaching the Principles of Accounting subject. Specifically whether gender, age, attitude and experiences make a difference in contributing to their readiness to implement mastery learning teaching method. This study used survey design. The respondents of this study consists of 80 teachers who taught the Principles of Accounting subject in several secondary schools in one of the states in Malaysia.
In terms of the profile of the respondents, 23.8% of the teachers were men and the rest 76.2% were women teachers. From the total number of the respondents, 73.8% were Malays, 20.0% were Chinese and 6.2% were Indians. The racial percentage showed that the Malay teachers made up the highest number of teachers teaching the subject. As for the age groups, those <35 years were 30.0% whereas those between 3640 years old were 37.5% and >41 years are 32.5%. The percentage showed that the most number of teachers teaching the subject was in the age group between 3640 years. In terms of academic qualifications, most of the teachers that is 88.8% were undergraduate degree holders followed by master degree holders which is 6.3%, diploma holders which is 3.8% and high school qualifications which is 1.3%.
About 72.5% of the teachers had been exposed to mastery learning teaching method while 27.5% had not. In terms of their teaching experiences, 45.0% of the teachers had taught for 1014 years followed by 22.5% had taught >15 years, 20.0% had taught between 59 years and 12.5% had taught <5 years of experience. Finally, 47.5% of the teachers were majored in Accounting while 20.0% were majored in Business Studies and 32.5% in other areas (Table 1).
Teachers readiness was 1st measured based on their knowledge about the mastery learning teaching method. A little bit >10% of the teachers that was 11.2% scored 75100 on a test administered by the researchers. In fact, those who scored between 049 marks had the highest percentage of the total number of teachers that is 46.3%. Those who scored on the average that was between 5074 marks was 42.5% of the total numbers.
Table 1: 
Profile of respondents 


Table 2: 
Readiness level based on teachers’ knowledge of the mastery
learning approach 


Table 3: 
Readiness level based on skills towards mastery learning teaching
approach 


Table 4: 
Mean scores of the readiness level of teachers’ knowledge
and skills towards mastery learning teaching approach 


Secondly, teachers’ readiness was measured based on their ability to use mastery learning teaching method in the classrooms. About 48.7% of the teachers had the skills of using mastery learning teaching method in their classrooms with the score between 75100 marks. This was followed by 43.8% of them who on the average scored between 5074 marks.
Lastly, only 7.5% score the lowest (between 049) on the mastery learning skills test. These results showed that most of the Principles of Accounting teachers had the skills of teaching using mastery learning method. In comparing the teachers’ readiness between their knowledge level and skill level, it seems that the teachers thought that they acquired the skills better than the knowledge about the mastery learning. This was due to their perception that they did not understand the concept and principles of mastery learning.
Thus implying that teachers of the Principles of Accounting subject use mastery
learning in teaching without having an in depth knowledge of the concepts and
principles of the approach (Table 24).
The ttest was used to find out if there is a significance difference of the
teachers’ attitude towards mastery learning teaching method based on gender.
The results showed t (78) = 1.222 and the significant value, p = 0.225 at significant
level of p<0.05. Thus, there was a significant difference of the teachers’
attitude towards mastery learning method based on gender. Based on the oneway
ANOVA test, there were significant differences of the teachers’ attitude
based on age. For example, the results showed that with F (2, 77) = 1.696, p
= 0.146 at the significant level p<0.05. However, using the oneway ANOVA
test with the results of F (2, 77) = 0.003, p = 0.007 at the significant level
of p<0.05, there were no significant difference of the teachers’ attitude
based on those who had accounting degree and those who did not have the degree.
Table 5: 
Ttest result for the readiness level of teachers’ attitude
based gender 

*Significant level p<0.05 

Table 6: 
Oneway ANOVA test result for the readiness level of teachers’
attitude based on age 

*Significant level p<0.05 

Table 7: 
Oneway ANOVA test results for the readiness level of the
teachers’ attitude based on teaching options 


Table 8: 
Oneway ANOVA test results for the readiness level of the
teachers’ attitude based on years of teaching experience 

*Significant level p<0.05 

With the same statistical test, the results showed that there was significance
difference of the teachers’ attitude towards the mastery learning method
based on the number of years of teaching experiences (F (3, 76) = 3.134, p =
0.030 at significant level of p<0.05). Based on the analysis, the findings
showed that the teachers who taught the Principles of Accounting subject had
a low readiness level on the knowledge of concepts and principles of mastery
learning method. This suggests that teachers need be given more exposure and
information about the subject matter (Table 58).
DISCUSSION
According to Shaharuddin, the knowledge aspect of readiness is vital for teachers
to convey and transfer necessary knowledge of a subject matter to their students.
Yusrina in agreeing with Shaharuddin states that the low and moderate readiness
level of teachers’ knowledge of a subject matter could influence their
own attitude and capabilities in using the mastery learning method in the classrooms.
Peters et al. (1963) stresses that a good lesson
depends on the knowledge and methods of teaching used by teachers in their classrooms.
Fuchs et al. (1986), Faridah, Yusrina and Marina
agree that mastery learning method is effective in increasing the performance
of students. Despite having the low level of readiness in terms of the knowledge
of mastery learning method, the Principles of Accounting teachers had a high
readiness level in terms of the skills of implementing the mastery learning
method in the classrooms. This showed that teachers often used mastery learning
method in their classrooms despite not understanding its concepts and principles.
The teachers’ readiness level in terms of attitude was good in general
based on gender, age and experiences of teaching. For example, the more number
of years of teaching the subject matter, the better attitude they had towards
using the mastery learning method in their classrooms.
CONCLUSION
This study shows that teachers’ readiness should include measuring their ability to do mastery learning teaching method effectively in their classrooms. This is because mastery learning method has received positive attention by most parties involve in education discipline. It is well accepted that mastery learning method is effective in terms of increasing students’ motivation to learn and consequently their achievements. The literature indicates positive effects of mastery learning on students especially in the areas of achievement, attitudes toward learning and the retention of content. School systems that have implemented mastery learning have found it to be a very effective teaching and learning method. The developers of mastery learning assert that it is most useful with basic skills and slow learners at both elementary and secondary levels. Group instruction is often given to the entire class by the instructor with individual time for learning provided until mastery is met. The goal of mastery learning is success for the student.
Several metaanalyses of mastery learning programs (Martinez
and Martinez, 1999) examined the impact on student achievement, retention,
student affect and teacher issues. They found that achievement results were
positive. Students in mastery learning programs at all levels showed increased
gains in achievement over those in traditional instruction programs (Davis
and Sorrell, 1995). Students also retained what they learned longer and
required less remediation overtime. Further, students developed more positive
attitudes about learning and their ability to learn. Finally, teachers implementing
mastery learning developed more positive attitudes about teaching, held higher
expectations for students and took more responsibility for meeting learning
outcomes. Martinez and Martinez (1999) found a positive
relationship between student attitudes toward instruction and content of mastery
learning programs. The benefits from mastery learning were found to be enduring,
not short term. After several weeks of instruction students continued to have
higher mastery scores than those of students in traditional classes. The data
found that low aptitude students had greater gains than high aptitude students.
It is asserted that success in achievement, attitude and motivation in the education
or learning environment makes learning more effective. In summary, mastery learning
is not a new method of instruction. It is based on the concept that all students
can learn when provided with conditions appropriate to their situation. The
student must reach a predetermined level of mastery on one unit before they
are allowed to progress to the next. In a mastery learning setting, students
are given specific feedback about their learning progress at regular intervals
throughout the instructional period.
This feedback, helps students identify what they have learned well and what
they have not learned well. Areas that were not learned well are allotted more
time to achieve mastery. Only grades of A and B are permitted because these
are the accepted standards of mastery. Traditional instruction holds time constant
and allows mastery to vary while mastery learning or systematic instruction
holds mastery constant and allows time to vary (Carpenter
and Schulz, 1991). Research on implementing mastery learning for the most
part endorses the mastery learning method and the claims of the mastery learning
developers. Keeping the research in mind, it is necessary to look at school
systems that have implemented mastery learning programs.
School administrators, classroom teachers and others involved in educational decisionmaking must be made aware of the research findings. The information obtained from research and implementation studies can be used to develop restructuring plans in school systems willing to meet the changing world climate. Based on these many good claims of mastery learning method all teachers in Malaysia (in this case teachers of the Principles of Accounting subject is taken as an example) need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills of mastery learning teaching method during their teaching training period. Teachers’ professionalization process should include ensuring this aspect of their ability.