CONTINUING REFLECTION ON PISA PROBLEM-SOLVING TEST RESULTS
Continuing in our analysis of the PISA 2012 problem-solving test results, the OECD chose to compare individual problem-solving tasks to the overall average. It should be noted that that average might not necessarily be the ideal balance of strengths of problem-solving skill subsets. Students from Europe and North America tended to perform less well than those from top-performing countries primarily in tasks associated with knowledge-acquisition. In most countries, there is lower performance in student ability to “turn information into useful knowledge,” as evidenced by performance in the dimensions “exploring and understanding and “representing and formulating” problems.
Irish and U.S. students performed better on interactive items than students in Nordic and Central European countries. The OECD suggested that educators in the latter areas might need to foster student behaviors such as “being open to novelty, tolerating doubt and uncertainty, and daring to use intuition to initiate a solution.” For many of the countries (see, for example, Spain, UK and Germany in graphic), there were no particular areas that were stronger or weaker across the spectrum of problem-solving skills.
Again, these findings were intended to simply allow schools in participating countries to examine their curricula for 21st century relevance. Clearly constructed on real-life skillsets related to problem-solving, this study showed how well prepared 15 year olds (now potentially university students) are to solve novel problems not addressed by rote curricular offerings. The study directors conclude that problem-solving skills must be strengthened by addressing them in context of other studies. Teachers, for example, might spend more time reflecting openly with students as a model for students to do the same thing. Essentially, it supports the metacognitive aspects of learning. So, instructors should encourage students to describe the steps they took toward a solution, and not simply be satisfied with a correct answer!