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 PISA 2012 assessment of problem solving

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

In 2012, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) featured a computer-based test of problem-solving competency. Computer delivery enabled the assessment to include for the first time in such a large-scale survey, problems that require the solver to interact with the problem situation to uncover information that is not explicitly disclosed from the outset. These types of problems occur frequently in everyday life when dealing with technological devices such as mobile telephones and vending machines. This chapter presents the PISA 2012 definition of problem solving, outlines the development of the assessment framework and discusses its key organising elements: the problem context, the nature of the problem situation and the four problemsolving process groups. It then presents sample items with commentary.


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