How does PISA measure students’ ability to collaborate?
OECD. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
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Every three years, PISA measures students’ competencies in science, reading and mathematics. Mastering the core school subjects and applying one’s knowledge to familiar settings, however, is not sufficient to thrive in life. Even in the absence of specific knowledge or of a routine procedure on which they can rely, students must still be able to understand and solve the many new problems they will encounter. For this reason, PISA 2012 assessed students’ ability to solve problems individually. Solving unfamiliar problems on one’s own is important, but in today’s increasingly interconnected world, people are often required to collaborate in order to achieve their goals, both in the workplace and in their personal lives. Teamwork has numerous benefits: a diverse range of opinions and prior experiences can be drawn upon; there may be synergies among team members, resulting in better and more efficient solutions; and labour can be divided and tasks assigned to those who are best at each of them. Collaboration can also be fraught with difficulties. Instead of dividing tasks effectively, one team member might end up reproducing another’s work. Interpersonal tension and poor communication within the team might also prevent it from achieving its full potential. Working with others is a skill that might not be natural to everyone, but that can be developed with time and practice. Hence, PISA 2015 goes beyond individual problem solving and – for the first time ever in any international assessment – measures students’ ability to solve problems collaboratively. Students in 52 education systems completed this assessment.