Accessibility Features
Core Skills Mastery
CSM Course
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What is in the CSM curriculum?

The CSM Course covers the most important academic skills for educational and professional success:

Math and literacy skills for academic success. The CSM curriculum teaches the skills that are used every day in academic programs, and further support decision-making in the workplace. CSM emphasizes depth of understanding and fluency of these skills.

Problem-solving and thinking skills. CSM equips students with specific problem-solving strategies and the problem-solving mindset to help them tackle real-world challenges.

Active learning. Independent learning is a key skill for success in both college and in today's rapidly changing work environments. CSM is designed to break the cycle of passive learning and empower students to solve problems and learn new material on their own.

Academic habits like carefulness, persistence, confidence, and self-efficacy. CSM is a new generation of educational technology that devotes as much attention to a student's habits of mind as to the skills being taught.

Who is the CSM Course designed for?

Everyone can benefit from CSM, from 8th graders through adult learners. CSM's adaptive learning system adjusts to the needs of widely diverse students - all students learn all of the Core Skills, and are guided to as many Supporting Skills as they need. CSM will fill in gaps down to 3rd grade math and 6th grade literacy, but is also appropriate for college-level students. CSM has many applications in secondary schools, adult and workforce education, and postsecondary education.

How is the CSM Course structured?

The CSM Course covers core math and literacy skills and key problem-solving strategies, and takes about 10 to 80 hours to complete, depending on student preparation. Students who finish the CSM Course are eligible for the CSM Certificate.

Students who complete the CSM Course have access to the Challenge Problems, which focus on advanced problem solving and critical thinking with an emphasis on teaching how to attack novel problems in unfamiliar situations. The Challenge Problems can take dozens of hours.

There are two ways to incorporate CSM into an educational program - competency-based or seat-time. In a competency-based class, students will work on CSM for as long as it takes them to reach their goal, which is usually completion of the CSM Course (but programs can opt to include some of the Challenge Problems as well). In a seat-time class, students will get as far as they can on CSM in the time alotted - some will spend most or all of their time in the CSM Course, while others will progress quickly through the Course and get deep into the Challenge Problems. If you use CSM in a seat-time class, we recommend approximately a semester-long class, or about 60 hours, which will allow most students to complete the CSM Course.

How does CSM teach?

To achieve the highest learning efficiency, CSM is an adaptive learning system that personalizes instruction by guiding each student on a unique path through the lessons according to his or her individual needs.

Zone of proximal development.
sample skills tree
Students move through "trees" of skills, earning yellow, red and black belts
CSM maintains students at their "edge of knowledge" where lessons are neither too easy and boring, nor too hard and frustrating. At this edge of knowledge, learning is both fastest and most rewarding.
No traditional tests.
In most computer-based instruction, students spend a lot of their time in tests at the beginning and end of each lesson, rather than in instruction. In contrast, in CSM, testing and training are woven together seamlessly. CSM formatively analyzes each student interaction in terms of skills acquisition, independent learning, and habits of mind to guide them on their optimal path through the curriculum.
Feedback tailored to specific errors.
CSM analyzes every incorrect answer to determine the specific error made by the student, and in most cases, CSM identifies the problem and immediately provides the student with their thinking error to help them correct their mistake.
Higher level of mastery.
student with a black belt
Most conventional educational technology requires minimal competency - often 60-70% passing scores on multiple choice questions. CSM requires a much higher level of mastery, resulting in significantly deeper learning.
Durability of mastery.
CSM uses a karate belt metaphor to bring students to back to skills over weeks as they move from yellow to red belt, and finally to a black belt. Instead of just giving students a check-mark and moving on, CSM determines that the student can reproduce the skill over an extended period, demonstrating that the skills acquisition is deep, secure and durable.
Guided metacognition.
sample question about whether you have learned a skill
CSM guides students through the process of metacognition, by asking them to consider their learning and needs every time they miss a question. CSM also helps students learn how they learn best by providing many lesson types that are geared towards various learning styles, as well as feedback to students on which lessons they are reading and which lessons are most successful in helping them learn.
Measurment of and response to effort and learning.
Most adaptive learning systems focus exclusively on the cognitive aspects of a student's performance. CSM addresses the whole student by also measuring and responding to effort and learning.

A new and higher standard for college and work readiness

CSM's goal isn't college and workforce readiness, it's providing students with the skills they need for college completion and career success.


Many college readiness programs are simply test-prep for college placement tests. However, studies show that performance on these tests correlates poorly with college completion, leading to low graduation rates at many colleges -- only 20% of community college students graduate within 6 years, and the percentage goes below 10% for those who require any developmental education.

In contrast, CSM teaches the skills needed for college completion -- that is, the math, literacy, problem-solving, independent learning, and academic traits and habits of mind that students can use every day as they progress towards graduation.


When many employers hear the term "workforce ready", they think of low-skill, entry-level work. In contrast, CSM is oriented towards the problem-solving and decision-making skills that are crucial in supervisory and managerial positions of strategic value to employers.

Is it really free?

Yes, the CSM Course really is completely free for everyone, and professional development for coaches is free, as well. The CSM Course is maintained as free through revenues from the CSM Certificate and other CSM services. Our company's goal is to educate people and raise the skills of the world population, so keeping the CSM Course free is the best way to have an impact on as many people as possible.