PISA survey: Bulgarian ninth-grade pupils poor at collaborative problem-solving

Singapore students tops in problem-solving as a team

"These students can carry out advanced problem-solving tasks with high collaboration complexity, maintain an awareness of group dynamics, and take the initiative to perform actions or make requests to overcome obstacles and resolve disagreements", the think tank said.

Australian students are among the world's best at solving problems collaboratively, performing better than would be expected based on their scores in science, reading and maths, an global report card has found.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the report showed almost twice the number of Australian students were highly skilled at problem solving compared to the OECD average. But it's not necessarily always a direct correlation.

Around 15 per cent of Australian students had high level skills compared with the OECD average of 8 per cent.

"The results are really interesting, and for some countries they tell a very different story than what we see from individual academic skills". As this poll shows many teachers realise this is a problem that urgently needs to be fixed.

However, students in Australia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and the United States perform better in collaborative problem solving than would be expected based on their scores in science, reading and mathematics.

But when the element of collaboration is added to the problem solving, girls outperformed boys in in every country.

Among countries and regions with a score of over 530 points are Hong Kong - China (541), Korea (538), Canada, Estonia, Finland, Macao-China, New Zealand and Australia.

What happens outside school is important, with social, or perhaps anti-social, influences.

Where teachers are supportive and have more positive relationships with students, this also is more likely to be linked to higher levels of working together.

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PISA assessed students in a number of ways.

Nesta, a charity that supports innovation, found 67 per cent of teachers do not think the UK's education system is now equipping young people with 21st-century skills and that only 54 per cent of teachers in England have a clear idea of what collaborative problem solving means.

The survey also found that 79 per cent of teachers say they can not remember ever having had training in how to incorporate collaborative problem solving into their lessons.

The report also found that students who played video games typically scored lower than students who didn't play them, even after accounting for social and economic factors.

Around 12% of United Kingdom students achieved Level 4 - the top level in collaborative problem-solving.

These results are mirrored in students' attitudes.

On average, 85% of students surveyed agreed with statements such as "I am a good listener", "I enjoy seeing my classmates be successful", "I take into account what others are interested in", "I enjoy considering different perspectives", and "I enjoy co-operating with peers".

All countries need to invest far more resources towards equipping their students for the jobs of the future, the report said.

In a world that places a growing premium on social skills, a lot more needs to be done to foster those skills across the school curriculum.

Because strong academic skills will not automatically also lead to strong social skills.

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