PISA 2015: Collaborative problem solving

Publication Details

Over 4,500 New Zealand students took part in PISA 2015, which included an assessment of their collaborative solving abilities and attitudes towards cooperation. Collaborative problem solving is how an individual works together with others to solve a problem, through establishing and maintaining shared understanding and team organisation. This report summarises the results as they relate to New Zealand students.

Author(s): Steve May, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: November 2017

Key Findings

  • New Zealand students performed very well in the collaborative problem solving assessment (with a mean score of 533, well above the OECD average of 500). Only Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong China had significantly higher average results.
  • New Zealand had one of the largest proportions of students that scored at the highest level of collaborative problem solving proficiency (only Singapore had a higher proportion).
  • New Zealand students perform better in collaborative problem solving than expected given their performance in science, reading, and mathematics in PISA 2015.
  • Girls outperformed boys in collaborative problem solving across the OECD by 29 points, and in New Zealand this difference was particularly large (41 points).
  • Within New Zealand, the average score for students who self-identified as Pākehā (549) or Asian (538) was well above the OECD average of 500. The average for students identifying as Māori (499) was around the OECD average, and for students identifying as Pasifika the average score (484) was below the OECD average.
  • As with the other PISA subjects, there was a large difference in collaborative problem solving achievement between students of high versus low socio-economic status as measured by PISA. Students in the bottom quarter of the PISA socio-economic index scored, on average, 76 points lower in collaborative problem solving than those in the top quarter.
  • Once performance in science, reading and mathematics was taken into account, there were no significant differences between the scores for students identifying as one ethnic grouping compared with those who do not identify with that group (e.g., Pākehā/non-Pākehā). In contrast, the difference between girls and boys remains large after accounting for performance in the three core subjects.
  • Students were asked about the value they placed on teamwork and relationships. Across the OECD and within New Zealand once student ability in science, reading and mathematics is taken into account, positive attitudes to collaboration were found to be positively associated with collaborative problem solving achievement.

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