Pisa: UK does better than expected in collaborative problem-solving – rankings at a glance

British teenagers perform better at working in groups to solve problems than they do in reading and maths, global rankings suggest

Helen Ward

Helen Ward

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Singapore has topped the league table for how well teenagers work together in groups to solve problems – and the UK did better than expected, the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) revealed today. 

It is another top place for Singapore, which also came first in the 2015 Pisa international rankings in reading, maths and science when they were published last year. 

The results of Pisa's collaborative problem-solving tests show that the UK came 15th – or, once sample sizes were taken into account, between 12th and 16th place. The UK's average test score of 519 is not statistically different from Germany, the USA, Denmark or the Netherlands.

Researchers at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which runs Pisa, found that there was a strong link between how well 15-year-olds did at collaborative problem-solving and how well children did in the core Pisa subjects.

Problem-solving? No problem...

This meant the UK performed better than expected in collaborative problem-solving, given that it came 27th in maths, 22nd in reading and 15th in science.

In the UK, around 12 per cent of students performed at a top level of proficiency – meaning they could successfully carry out complicated problem-solving tasks, which required them to resolve disagreements and conflicts – compared with around 8 per cent across OECD countries on average.

The full table is shown below:

Pisa: Snapshot of performance in collaborative problem-solving

Country: All students (mean score)

OECD average - 32500

1.  Singapore 561

2.  Japan 552

3.  Hong Kong 541

4.  South Korea 538

5.  Canada 535

6.  Estonia 535

7.  Finland 534

8.  Macao (China) 534

9.  New Zealand 533

10. Australia 531

11. Taiwan 527

12. Germany 525

13. United States 520

14. Denmark 520

15. United Kingdom 519

16. Netherlands 518

17. Sweden 510

18. Austria 509

19. Norway 502

20. Slovenia 502

21. Belgium 501

22. Iceland 499

23. Czech Republic 499

24. Portugal 498

25. Spain 496

26. Beijing-Shanghai-Jiangsu-Guangdong 496

27. France 494

28. Luxembourg 491

29. Latvia 485

30. Italy 478

31. Russia 473

32. Croatia 473

33. Hungary 472

34. Israel 469

35. Lithuania 467

36. Slovak Republic 463

37. Greece 459

38. Chile 457

39.Cyprus 444

40. Bulgaria 444

41. Uruguay 443

42. Costa Rica 441

43. Thailand 436

44. United Arab Emirates 435

45.Mexico 433

46. Colombia 429

47. Turkey 422

48. Peru 418

49. Montenegro 416

50. Brazil 412

51. Tunisia 382

Source: Pisa 2015 Results (Vol V): collaborative problem solving. Figure V.1.1

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