Thinking it through: Australian students' skills in creative problem solving

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Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

Thinking it through Australian students’ skills in creative problem solving

Lisa De Bortoli Greg Macaskill

Australian Council for Educational Research

First published 2014 by Australian Council for Educational Research Ltd 19 Prospect Hill Road, Camberwell, Victoria, 3124, Australia www.acer.edu.au www.acer.edu.au/ozpisa/reports/ Text © Australian Council for Educational Research Ltd 2014 Design and typography © ACER Creative Services 2014 This book is copyright. All rights reserved. Except under the conditions described in the Copyright Act 1968 of Australia and subsequent amendments, and any exceptions permitted under the current statutory licence scheme administered by Copyright Agency (www.copyright.com.au), no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, broadcast or communicated in any form or by any means, optical, digital, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher. Cover design, text design and typesetting by ACER Creative Services Edited by Amanda Coleiro National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry Author:

DeBortoli, Lisa, author.

Title: Thinking it through : Australian students’ skills in creative problem solving / Lisa DeBortoli, Greg Macaskill. ISBN:

9781742862576 (paperback)

Notes:

Includes bibliographical references.

Subjects:

Programme for International Student Assessment. Problem-based learning--Australia Critical thinking in children--Australia Problem solving--Ability testing--Australia. Educational evaluation.

Other Authors/Contributors: Macaskill, Greg, author. Australian Council for Educational Research, issuing body. Dewey Number: 371.39 The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.

Contents

Executive summary

v

List of figures

xii

List of tables

xiv

Reader’s guide

xv

CHAPTER 1 Introduction

1

The main goals of PISA

1

The importance of assessing problem solving

2

What participants did

2

Participants in PISA 2012

3

How results are reported

6

Organisation of the report

6

Further information

6

CHAPTER 2 The assessment of problem solving

7

How is problem solving defined in PISA?

7

How is problem solving assessed in PISA?

7

The PISA 2012 problem-solving assessment structure

CHAPTER 3 Australian students’ performance in problem solving

10

23

Australia’s problem-solving performance from an international perspective

23

Australia’s problem-solving performance in a national context

31

Variations in problem-solving performance between and within schools

41

Comparing students’ performance in problem solving with mathematics, science and reading

44

Relative performance in problem solving in Australia

46

CHAPTER 4 Students’ strengths and weaknesses in problem solving

48

Students’ strengths and weaknesses in problem-solving processes

50

Students’ strengths and weaknesses in the nature of the problem situation

53

Students’ strengths and weaknesses on the response formats

55

Grouping countries by their strengths and weaknesses in problem solving

59