Monday, April 14, 2014

Programme for International Student Assessment: problem solving

PISA 2012 Results: Creative Problem Solving (Volume V)The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) "is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students". This is a very large scale exercise. One of the aims of those aiming to develop international indicators for information literacy is that they might use elements from PISA assessments and/or incorporate IL into PISA. The latest set of assessments, published at the start of this month, is the PISA 2012 assessment of problem solving "which looked at the ability of 15-year-olds to solve problems that they have never encountered before and for which a routine solution has not been learned".
The full report (linked below or by clicking the picture) gives detailed information about the assessments which were set, and the scores by country. They found that high scores on this assessment correlated with high mathematics and science scores, which doesn't seem very surprising as the problems are (I would say) rather technical in nature. Perhaps unsurprisingly (given the nature of the tests and the ways they are marked) they did not include the human element which in reality often forms an aspect of a real-life problem.
Also collaboration and seeking outside information and advice were not allowed: I was pondering whether I was being illogical in thinking that this was more an integral element of problem-solving than of (say) literacy or ability in mathematics. Even on reflection I feel that an integral part of being a good problem solver is knowing how and where to get advice and information to apply to your problem, and that other qualities (such as "emotional intelligence") are needed to solve many everyday and workplace problems. I'd be interested to know others' views.

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