Table of Contents

  • This report is the product of a collaborative effort between the countries participating in PISA, the experts and institutions working within the framework of the PISA Consortium, and the OECD Secretariat. The report was drafted by Andreas Schleicher, Francesco Avvisati, Francesca Borgonovi, Miyako Ikeda, Hiromichi Katayama, Flore-Anne Messy, Chiara Monticone, Guillermo Montt, Sophie Vayssettes and Pablo Zoido of the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills and the Directorate for Financial Affairs, with statistical support from Simone Bloem and Giannina Rech and editorial oversight by Marilyn Achiron. Additional analytical and editorial support was provided by Adele Atkinson, Jonas Bertling, Marika Boiron, Célia Braga-Schich, Tracey Burns, Michael Davidson, Cassandra Davis, Elizabeth Del Bourgo, John A. Dossey, Joachim Funke, Samuel Greiff, Tue Halgreen, Ben Jensen, Eckhard Klieme, André Laboul, Henry Levin, Barry McCrae, Juliette Mendelovits, Tadakazu Miki, Christian Monseur, Simon Normandeau, Lorena Ortega, Mathilde Overduin, Elodie Pools, Dara Ramalingam, William H. Schmidt (whose work was supported by the Thomas J. Alexander fellowship programme), Kaye Stacey, Lazar Stankov, Ross Turner, Elisabeth Villoutreix and Allan Wigfield. The system-level data collection was conducted by the OECD NESLI (INES Network for the Collection and Adjudication of System-Level Descriptive Information on Educational Structures, Policies and Practices) team: Bonifacio Agapin, Estelle Herbaut and Jean Yip. Volume II also draws on the analytic work undertaken by Jaap Scheerens and Douglas Willms in the context of PISA 2000. Administrative support was provided by Claire Chetcuti, Juliet Evans, Jennah Huxley and Diana Tramontano.

  • In modern societies, all of life is problem solving. Changes in society, the environment, and in technology mean that the content of applicable knowledge evolves rapidly. Adapting, learning, daring to try out new things and always being ready to learn from mistakes are among the keys to resilience and success in an unpredictable world.

  • “What is important for citizens to know and be able to do?” That is the question that underlies the triennial survey of 15-year-old students around the world known as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). PISA assesses the extent to which students near the end of compulsory education have acquired key knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies. The assessment, which focuses on mathematics, reading, science and problem solving, does not just ascertain whether students can reproduce knowledge; it also examines how well students can extrapolate from what they have learned and apply that knowledge in unfamiliar settings, both in and outside of school. This approach reflects the fact that modern economies reward individuals not for what they know, but for what they can do with what they know.

  • This chapter introduces the PISA 2012 assessment of problem solving. It provides the rationale for assessing problem-solving competence in PISA, and introduces the innovative features of the 2012 assessment. The framework for the assessment is presented, and sample items are discussed.

  • This chapter examines student performance in problem solving. It introduces the problem-solving performance scale and proficiency levels, describes performance within and across countries and economies, and reports mean performance levels. It also discusses the relationship between problemsolving performance and performance in mathematics, reading and science.

  • This chapter provides a nuanced look at student performance in problem solving by focusing on students’ strengths and weaknesses in performing certain types of tasks. The items in the PISA problem-solving assessment are categorised by the nature of the problem (interactive or static items) and by the main cognitive processes involved in solving the problem (exploring and understanding; representing and formulating; planning and executing; monitoring and reflecting). The analysis in this chapter identifies the tasks and skills that students master better than students in other countries do, after taking into account overall differences in performance.

  • This chapter looks at differences in problem-solving performance related to education tracks within countries and to students’ gender, socioeconomic status and immigrant background. It also examines students’ behaviours and attitudes related to problem solving, and their familiarity with information and communication technology. In addition, the chapter identifies particular groups of students who perform better in problem solving than expected, given their performance in mathematics, reading and science.

  • In order to succeed in life, students must be able to apply the problemsolving strategies that they learn at school beyond the curricular contexts in which they are usually cast. This chapter discusses the implications of the PISA problem-solving assessment for education policy and practice.