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

21st November 2017 at 07:03
British teenagers perform better at working in groups to solve problems than they do in reading and maths, global rankings suggest

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-32 500
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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