Teaching Skills That Matter-SkillBlox Instructional Support Pilot

TSTM SkillBlox LogoLed by American Institutes for Research and the EdTech Center @ World Education, this Network research team is exploring the rollout of the Teaching Skills That Matter (TSTM) framework developed by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) and will develop and pilot test instructional resources for TSTM, delivered through an online platform called SkillBlox.


The TSTM framework focuses on skills, topics, and teaching approaches that match adult education instruction with learners’ needs outside the classroom. It focuses on nine intra/interpersonal competencies (such as communication, critical thinking), five topic areas (civics education, digital literacy, financial literacy, health literacy, workforce preparation), and three teaching approaches (integrated and contextualized learning, problem-based learning, project-based learning

OCTAE has been supporting the rollout of TSTM using a train-the-trainer model, in which a small set of teacher leaders in each state receive training and then train other instructors.

The TSTM-aligned version of SkillBlox will build off an emerging SkillBlox platform that organizes instructional content according to adult education topics and skill levels. SkillBlox is a free online platform in which instructors organize education resources by skill for lesson planning. SkillBlox lets instructors offer an increased range of learning options for students. These options can be personalized based on learner preferences and skill needs.

Project Description

The research team will conduct an exploratory study to understand the context of implementation of TSTM to date. They will explore the ongoing implementation of TSTM, identify the strategies being used to scale up TSTM and also explore the challenges instructors face in doing so. They will leverage this information to guide the development of digital educational resources by refining the online SkillBlox platform and working with instructors to increase its content while also aligning content to TSTM.

Project Activities

The research team will use what they learn about challenges in implementing TSTM to develop TSTM-SkillBlox. Through an iterative design and testing process, they will work with instructors to improve SkillBlox’s usability and develop content matched to TSTM. The resulting pilot version of TSTM-aligned SkillBlox will be designed to allow instructors to easily locate a TSTM-aligned skill they want to teach; select relevant lessons and high quality OERs, such as articles, videos, games, simulations, and assessments they wish to use to teach that skill; and then assign skill blocks to students through the platform. They will then pilot test the fully developed platform and conduct a cost analysis of TSTM-aligned SkillBlox.


This project will produce a TSTM-aligned SkillBlox platform and support materials. The project will also create publications and presentations describing the ongoing implementation of TSTM and development of TSTM-SkillBlox.

For More Information

Please visit the Teaching Skills That Matter (TSTM)-SkillBlox project page on the IES website for a detailed project description. For more information about the project, please contact the Principal Investigator Stephanie Cronen.

This project is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education through Award #R305N210025.