News: Students Excel at Problem Solving

Panic Over! It actually appears that students (in England) are very good at problem solving. Figures released by the OECD put England as second highest in Europe, one place behind Finland being “significantly above average” in problem-solving skills. Singapore and South Korea were top in tests taken by 15-year-olds.

“Today’s 15-year-olds with poor problem-solving skills will become tomorrow’s adults struggling to find or keep a good job,” said Andreas Schleicher, acting Director of Education and Skills at the OECD. “Policy makers and educators should reshape their school systems and curricula to help students develop their problem-solving skills which are increasingly needed in today’s economies.”

[pullquote]The highest-performing students are largely boys[/pullquote]The report summary also highlights that gender gaps in problem solving are small, particularly among low-performing students, the report finds. But the highest-performing students are largely boys, except in Australia, Finland and Norway.

You can try sample questions (use Mozilla Firefox) at

The only UK students tested were based in England, and a PDF summary of these scores are available by clicking here.

Participating countries and economies were: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong-China, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Macao-China, Malaysia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Shanghai-China, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, United States.

Regional results are also available for Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Italy, Spain and United Arab Emirates.

Speaking to the BBC, a Department of Education Spokesperson commented…

“But they also confirm that generally those who perform best in maths, reading and science – Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong and South Korea – are also those who do best in problem solving.

“This connection between the core subjects and problem solving underlines why we are focusing on the basics in the rigorous new primary curriculum, and why reformed GCSEs and A-levels will have open-ended questions which encourage lateral thinking.”

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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