Last November, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released the results of the first-ever international assessment of collaborative problem-solving. Since then, countries, education systems and individual educators have been scrambling to figure out how best to teach and assess the much-cited 21st Century Skill.
In the PISA 2015 framework, collaborative problem solving (CPS) is defined as the capacity of an individual to effectively engage in a process whereby two or more agents attempt to solve a problem by sharing the understanding and effort required to come to a solution and pooling their knowledge, skills, and efforts to reach that solution.
As experts work out how best to quantify and rank they dynamic complexities of the creative work, we used our team’s boots-on-the-ground knowledge to engage students in CPS. Here are our research-steeped and student-tested must-haves for creating the perfect problem for student engagement.
- Get student buy-in. Just like the rest of us, kids want to know their work isn’t in vain; they want to see purpose in their solving. The overwhelming engagement we saw when students worked on real-world problems was a catalyst for Tisk/Task.
- Demand informational literacy. As non-cogs in the workplace and in civic life, we are looking up information, decoding its accuracy, and applying it to our everyday problems. All without really thinking about it. Tisk/Task breaks down those steps for students, offering feedback along the way.
- Include a human element. 21st century learners will need to understanding data, but they need to go beyond that data to understand how and why it emerges. This involves asking tough questions, listening, drawing from others’ experiences.
- Seek results, not perfection. Our problems allow for divergent solutions. There is no right answer, no perfect solution, no 100%. Like a company seeking market share, we want results, difficult to quantify, messy and incomplete, but impactful results that can be improved upon.
- Encourage reflection and reiteration. We’ve seen some beautiful solutions but even those have room for reiteration. Students should be able to objectively reflect on their solutions and others to figure out areas to improve, ways to scale, places to simplify.
We know our solution is imperfect. We’d love to hear from you and better understand your experience with Tisk/Task and other collaborative problem-solving opportunities. With our panel of 13-18 year-old Board members, we look forward to reiterating.