Canadian Students near Top of the Class in Creative Problem Solving: OECD Study

By Rose, Lauren La | The Canadian Press, April 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Canadian Students near Top of the Class in Creative Problem Solving: OECD Study


Rose, Lauren La, The Canadian Press


Canadians rank high in problem solving: OECD

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TORONTO - An international study assessing the creative problem-solving skills of students sees Canada place near the top of the rankings.

There were 44 countries and economies participating in the assessment by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The latest results from the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment -- or PISA -- from 2012 were released Tuesday.

The survey of creative problem solving explored how well students tackled real-life problems.

"Today's workplaces demand people who can solve non-routine problems. Few workers, whether in manual or knowledge-based occupations, use repetitive actions to perform their job tasks," the report stated. It cited the OECD's Survey of Adult Skills which found one in 10 workers is confronted daily with more complex problems that require at least 30 minutes to solve.

For the PISA survey, about 85,000 15-year-olds took part in the time-restricted, computer-administered assessment. The test focused on their general reasoning skills, their ability to regulate problem-solving processes, and their willingness to do so "by confronting students with problems that do not require expert knowledge to solve."

For the study, the cognitive processes involved in problem solving were grouped into four categories: exploring and understanding; representing and formulating, planning and executing; and monitoring and reflecting.

Sample tasks in the report included manipulating an air conditioner with no instructions; operating an automatic ticketing machine; and navigating through a map showcasing a system of roads linking the suburbs within a city.

A snapshot of performance in problem solving saw Canada with a mean score of 526 points, scoring above the OECD average of 500. Singapore topped the list with 562, slightly edging South Korea at 561, followed by Japan at 552. Four more East Asian partner economies scored between 530 and 540 points on the PISA problem-solving scale: Macau, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Chinese Taipei.

Ed Jernigan has been a professor with the University of Waterloo since 1976, but has also worked extensively with high school students. …

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