The Nature of Problem Solving

Using Research to Inspire 21st Century Learning

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Solving non-routine problems is a key competence in a world full of changes, uncertainty and surprise where we strive to achieve so many ambitious goals. But the world is also full of solutions because of the extraordinary competences of humans who search for and find them. We must explore the world around us in a thoughtful way, acquire knowledge about unknown situations efficiently, and apply new and existing knowledge creatively.

The Nature of Problem Solving presents the background and the main ideas behind the development of the PISA 2012 assessment of problem solving, as well as results from research collaborations that originated within the group of experts who guided the development of this assessment. It illustrates the past, present and future of problem-solving research and how this research is helping educators prepare students to navigate an increasingly uncertain, volatile and ambiguous world.



Interactive problem solving: Exploring the potential of minimal complex systems

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

Interactive problem solving (IPS) is considered an increasingly important skill in professional and everyday life as it mirrors the interaction of a human user with dynamic technical and non-technical devices. Here, IPS is defined as the ability to identify the unknown structure of artefacts in dynamic, mostly technology-rich, environments to reach certain goals. Two overarching processes, the acquisition of knowledge and its application, can be theoretically distinguished and this chapter presents two measurement approaches assessing these processes: MicroDYN and MicroFIN, both of which rely on the idea of minimal complex systems (MICS). Whereas MicroDYN models quantitative connections between elements of a problem (i.e. more and less), MicroFIN models qualitative connections between them (e.g. on/off or white/black). This chapter summarises research on these approaches and discusses the implications for educational assessment.


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