Teaching Skills That Matter (TSTM)

AIR (American Institutes for Research)

The Teaching Skills That Matter (TSTM) Toolkit supports adult education programs in using evidence-based approaches to teach transferable skills that are essential for personal and workplace success.

What This Includes

Skills addressed:  Adaptability & Willingness To Learn, Communication, Critical Thinking, Interpersonal Skills, Navigating Systems, Problem Solving, Processing & Analyzing Information, Respecting Differences & Diversity, Self-Awareness

Learner content (Toolkit sections 1–5)

  • Modules on Civics Education, Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy, Health Literacy, and Workforce Preparation
  • Modules have briefs, case studies, lesson plans, project-based learning unit, problem-based learning unit, and an integrated and contextualized learning unit

Instructor guidance (Toolkit sections 7–8)

  • Explanations of the approaches to teaching the skills that matter: project-based learning, problem-based learning, and integrated and contextualized instruction
  • An annotated instructional resource list and annotated reference list for the five content focus areas
  • Additional teaching tools include: Action Plan Template, Central Skills Integration Analysis Tool, Integrated and Contextualized Learning Guiding Questions, Problem-Based Learning Guiding Questions, Project-Based Learning Guiding Questions, Unit Overview and Lesson Planning Template, and Strategic Coaching Guide

Key Takeaways

  • All materials highlight how content objectives, College and Career Readiness Standards, and TSTM can be integrated into one lesson, making this ideal for an adult education setting for intermediate and advanced learners.
  • Topic area briefs provide examples of how the nine skills can be addressed in that topic area. For example, learners build the skill of navigating systems in the Healthcare Literacy module by reading a scenario about someone whose child has suddenly become ill, and then by describing the steps they would take, indicating their knowledge of the systems and processes they would have to navigate.
  • Lesson and unit plans can be used as is, or briefs and listed skills can be used to develop lessons with customized content.
  • Case studies illustrate how adult education sites have integrated focus area content with the skills that matter, using approaches outlined in the toolkit.

Voices from the Field

Learn more about how this is used in practice.

The TSTM approach utilized students’ personal experiences and knowledge of having worked as medical professionals.

Critical Thinking Skills for Next Steps

Boston’s Asian American Civic Association (AACA) used the Teaching the Skills That Matter (TSTM) Health Literacy Toolkit to create an integrated health literacy awareness curriculum for its Next Steps ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes.

The American Institutes for Research developed the Teaching Skills That Matter approach and materials for adult education with funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education. The project was initiated to meet a need for quality materials that would increase the teaching of the skills that matter across the field of adult education, for increased workforce success and economic advancement.

Adaptability & Flexibility


Critical & Creative Thinking

Digital Literacy

Emotional Intelligence

Navigating & Using Information

Respecting Differences


Teamwork & Collaboration

Search Again

Use keyword to search for an individual skill.

Have a resource to suggest?
Share it with us.

Share This