The Nature of Problem Solving

Using Research to Inspire 21st Century Learning

image of The Nature of Problem Solving

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.


The history of complex problem solving

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

Complex problem solving (CPS) is about reaching one’s goals taking into account a large number of highly interrelated aspects. CPS has a rich history in experimental and psychometric research. The chapter highlights some of the most important findings of this research and shows its relationship to interactive problem solving. More specifically, it 1) characterises typical human strategies and shortcomings in coping with complex problems; 2) summarises some of the most influential theories on cognitive aspects of CPS; and 3) outlines the history of including CPS skills and competency in assessment contexts. The last section summarises the current state of play and points out some trends for future research.


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