Singapore students ace collaboration: Pisa study
Singapore students post highest mean scores in Pisa assessment
Once again, Singapore teens have aced the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) - this time in collaborative problem-solving.
This comes after Singapore beat other countries in Pisa's core domains of mathematics, science and reading. The results for this component of the 2015 prestigious triennial study were released yesterday.
It is run by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Of the Singaporeans involved in the study, there were 5,825 students - mainly from Secondary 4 - from all 168 secondary schools and 290 students from nine private schools.
Of the 52 education systems that participated in the collaborative problem-solving assessment, Singapore had the highest mean score of 561, ahead of Japan and Hong Kong.
The component tests students on their ability to solve problems with multiple constraints, ensure team members follow through with responsibilities, and resolve conflicts.
It was introduced in 2015 to include skills that are increasingly important and relevant in the 21st century.
Students were asked to chat with two "team members" simulated by the computer to carry out tasks.
Aside from planning strategies, they had to consider what their team members knew and assign roles based on skills and preferences, and monitor the team's progress.
The computer-simulated setting does not encapsulate the complexity of human interactions, the Ministry of Education's deputy director-general of education (curriculum) Sng Chern Wei acknowledged. But it is OECD's way of measuring and comparing collaborative problem-solving skills, he said.
He added that the results affirm MOE's efforts to develop in students the skills essential for the 21st century.
Over the years, secondary schools have rolled out programmes, such as applied learning, to incorporate elements of communication and collaboration in students.
Said Mr Sng: "Their performance in the study indicated that they do recognise the desirable attributes of collaboration and are able to demonstrate them when required."
MOE will review how schools can better deliver learning outcomes through these programmes, he added.
While Singapore has the highest proportion of top performers, OECD's director for education and skills Andreas Schleicher said there is still room for improvement.
"In absolute terms, only one in five Singaporean 15-year-olds does have the social and collaborative problem-solving skills that you wish every student would have in today's world - which places a very high premium on those kinds of skills."
For instance, schools here can redesign learning environments to allow students to "design their own learning paths", said Mr Schleicher.
"In a way, the world values collaboration, but the school is still designed with students sitting behind individual desks," he added.