PISA 2015 Collaborative Problem Solving


The PISA 2015 Collaborative Problem Solving assessment measures students’ capacity 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.


What is Collaborative Problem Solving?

The PISA 2015 Collaborative Problem Solving assessment built on the PISA 2012 Creative Problem Solving assessment framework, incorporating additional concepts that focus on the collaborative aspects of problem solving. These aspects reflect the skills found in project-based learning and in collaboration in workplace and civic settings, namely communicating, managing conflict, organising a team, building consensus and managing progress.

Why is it important for students to develop collaborative problem solving?

Today’s workplaces demand people who can solve non-routine problems, and who can do so in concert with others by sharing ideas and efforts. Digitalisation is also increasing opportunities for collaboration in both the workforce and civic contexts, such as volunteering and social networking, through technologies such as e-mail and web conferencing. Students emerging from schools into the workforce and public life will therefore encounter collaborative situations and be expected to have the necessary collaborative problem-solving skills to thrive.

Collaborative problem solving is increasingly recognised as an important 21st century skill as it has several advantages over individual problem solving: labour can be divided equally, a variety of perspectives and experiences can be applied to try and find solutions, and team members can support and stimulate one another, in turn enhancing the creativity and quality of solutions. Yet collaboration, if managed poorly, can also quickly lead to communication issues, interpersonal conflict and inefficiencies. It is therefore important that students develop the skills needed to engage in successful collaborative problem solving.


What is innovative about the PISA 2015 Collaborative Problem Solving assessment?

The PISA 2015 Collaborative Problem Solving assessment was the first large-scale, international assessment to evaluate students’ competency in collaborative problem solving.

It required students to interact with simulated (computer) in order to solve problems. These dynamic, simulated agents were designed to represent different profiles of team members, and responded to students’ responses following a script in a virtual chat.

The assessment included several types of collaborative problem-solving tasks in order to elicit different types of problem-solving behaviours and interactions between the students and computer agents. There are three types of tasks:

  1. group decision-making tasks (requiring argumentation, debate, negotiation or consensus to arrive at a decision);
  2. group co-ordination tasks (including collaborative work or jigsaw hidden profile paradigms where unique information must be shared); and
  3. group-production tasks (where a product must be created by a team, including designs for new products or written reports). Explore the example assessment tasks.

Results and supporting documents


The PISA 2015 Results (Volume V): Collaborative problem solving examine students’ ability to work with two or more people to try to solve a problem, highlighting the relative strengths and weaknesses of each school system and exploring how they are related to individual student characteristics, such as gender, immigrant background and socio-economic status. This volume of results also explores the role of education in building young people’s skills in solving problems collaboratively.

Additional resources

Webinars, podcasts and presentations

Webinar on PISA 2015 Collaborative Problem Solving: Key Findings (Andreas Schleicher)

What collaborative problem solving can tell us about students' social skills

 Presentation on PISA 2015 Collaborative problem solving - Key findings (Andreas Schleicher)


Contact us

For more information, reach out to the PISA innovative assessments team at [email protected]