CSM TM and Education
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.
  Math and Literacy Skills for Academic Success
The CSM curriculum comprises the most important skills that are used across many occupations and industries, as well as in college. The goal is to give students the skills that they will need as they progress in their career path, as well as the skills that they will rely on to succeed through college.

CSM aims for skills to be transferable by students into their classes, work and lives. Towards that goal, CSM emphasizes the following:
  • Depth of Understanding. CSM teaches skills in ways that emphasize conceptual understanding. For example, most curricula treat the concept of percents as simply a set of procedures, like "What is 20% of 240?". In contrast, take a look at the CSM percent problem below:

    This problem requires students to have an deep and intuitive sense of percents, to understand scale and magnitude, and to have facility with mental math -- it can't be done procedurally.
  • Integrated Math and Literacy. Math and literacy are almost always taught in isolation from each other, but most issues that come up in the workplace require both math and literacy to solve. CSM problems integrate math and literacy, which also allows CSM to tackle some integrated problems that slip between the silos of conventional math and literacy instruction.
  • Workforce Contextualized. All problems on CSM are workforce contextualized, so students understand the importance and applications of the skills they are learning.
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.
  Problem-Solving and Thinking Skills
CSM has an explicit problem-solving and thinking skills curriculum that extends across the CSM Course and into the Challenge Problems.
CSM Course
In the CSM Course, problem-solving focuses on planning. Students often don't realize that there are two steps to a solving a problem -- planning and execution (as their coursework usually focuses almost exclusively on the execution of isolated procedures). CSM emphasizes the planning step by giving students problems where they are just asked to plan the solution (but not carry out their plan), and simultaneously teaches problem-solving strategies like chunking, sequencing, working backwards, and more.

Challenge Problems
In the Challenge Problems (optionally taken after completion of the CSM Course, and also free), students are faced with increasingly difficult problems that climb Bloom's Taxonomy. They learn how to attack problems that they've never seen before, which might include problems with contexts in which the student is unfamiliar, or problems with solutions that requires methodologies that the student hasn't been taught. The Challenge Problems contain hints rather than direct instruction to encourage students to figure out the solution on their own and earn an "aha" moment.
CSM equips students with specific problem-solving strategies and the problem-solving mindset to help them tackle real-world challenges.
Active learning.
  Active Learning
A major focus of CSM is teaching students how to learn skills on their own. It's good if a student knows a skill, but it's GREAT if the student learned the skill independently.

Why is this important? Independent learning is the hallmark of a college student who is ready to succeed, and an employee who can adapt to changing work and technology.

CSM transforms student learning in many ways, including:
  • Thinking about thinking and learning. Metacognition is a critical skill for independent learning -- a good learner will consistently be reflecting on their own learning, what they know and don't know, and what they could do to learn something better. CSM consistently challenges students to think about their own learning through "reflection questions" that ask them how they are feeling about the skill, and whether they need more help.

  • Multiple learning styles and lesson types. CSM knows that different students learn in different ways. CSM provides conceptual (cognitivist) and procedural (behaviorist) lessons for every skill, with other lessons such as contextual (constructivist) examples, multiple solutions (so that the student can find their own best solution), tips, advice on checking the answers, etc. CSM provides students with feedback on what they're reading and whether or not it is helping them learn. It also suggests specific lessons that might be particularly useful for the student.

  • Teacher focus on teaching learning. In most computer-based learning, the purpose of the teacher is the instructor of last resort. In CSM, the role of the teacher is to teach learning, not skills. Thus, students must learn on their own in order to progress through the curriculum.
  • Learning through reading. Most student learning in school is through passively listening to a teacher lecture. Instead, CSM focuses on learning through reading, because it is the most powerful form of learning in college and in the workplace. To help the student learn independent learning through reading, CSM measures and responds to many aspects of student reading (what types of lessons they read, when they read the lessons, and how they read the lessons). It synthesizes these measurements into learning decisions and reading effectiveness.
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.
  Academic Traits and Habits of Mind
Being a successful student requires good academic habits of mind like persistence, carefulness, confidence, self-reliance and self-efficacy. CSM is unique among adaptive learning systems in measuring and responding to these important affective aspects of self-regulated learning.
Persistence and grit
Most learning systems respond to a student who is stuck on a skill by alerting the teacher that the student needs a personal lesson on that skill -- the role of the teacher is the instructor of "last resort". This strategy, however, saps student persistence and self-reliance as they that they don't need to try very hard on their own -- the easiest way to move forward is to have the teacher help them. This makes the student more dependent on the instructor for learning.

CSM, on the other hand, wants students to learn how to keep trying until they experience success. To do this, CSM doesn't call over a teacher when a student gets stuck, but simply gives the student a break by moving them to another skill for a while. As they are returned to the difficult skill, they learn that it's up to them to learn the skill, and generally put in more effort. When the student finally masters the skill, they have also learned deeper persistence and self-reliance as well.
Confidence and overcoming learned helplessness.
Many students respond to questions that seem hard by just giving up. They might say to themselves "I can't do the problem because I'm not smart enough or I've forgotten how to do it, and why bother? If I spend 5 minutes on the problem, I still won't be able to do it, and then I'll feel even worse. So I won't even try."

CSM addresses these patterns of learned helplessness in many ways. For example, after learning a skill, students are informed of what fraction of all adults and 4-year college graduates could do the problem.

After the student has seen this type of information a number of times, they gain confidence in their own abilities and their internal narrative changes to: "I can't do the problem, but it's not because I'm dumb -- it's because these are difficult problems. I've learned that I can do tricky problems if I try, and it will feel really good because I'll be able to do things that even many college graduates can't do. Let's get started!"
Attention to detail and A-level work
Attention to detail and carefulness are traits that are highly prized by employers, but they are generally undermined in most educational technology and the many classes that rely on multiple choice tests with a low passing grade. CSM requires extraordinary levels of accuracy and attention to detail to complete.

All work done on CSM must be "A-level" work in order for a student to make progress. CSM's high mastery level helps to teach students what A-level work demands, that they are capable of A-level work, and how good A-level performance feels - so that they are more likely to demonstrate such performance in other classes and as they transition to the workforce.
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.

  • Students move through "trees" of skills, earning yellow, red and black belts
    Zone of proximal development. 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. 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. 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 teachers 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.