The OCED Programme for International Student Development (PISA) released their 2015 findings on collaborative problem-solving. 2015 was the first year they assessed this, and their results show that American students perform better when working with a group.
U.S. News and World Report cited the difference:
The United States may be known for its rugged individualism. But it turns out American teens are, surprisingly, much better at group collaboration than at individual academic work. That’s according to a new, unusual version of the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, which tested collaborative problem-solving skills among 15-year-olds in more than 50 countries and regions around the world in 2015. Those results were released last week.
The PISA is known for its testing of high school students around the world, especially in math and reading. In general, nations with high math and reading scores also tended to do well on this new collaboration test. Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea topped the new social skills ranking, and they’re also among the top 10 for individual student achievement.
But for some countries, there was a big deviation. For example, the United States ranked 39th in math on the 2015 PISA test. But in collaborative problem-solving, the U.S. ranked 13th. For China, it was the opposite. Four regions in mainland China, including Beijing and Shanghai, collectively ranked sixth in math and in 2015. But these Chinese regions ranked 26th in collaborative problem-solving.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which administers the PISA tests, is assessing group collaboration because it believes that’s what employers will want more of from workers. However, PISA officials found that very few students in 2015 could collaborate with sophistication. Only 8 percent of students tested around the world could handle problem-solving tasks that require them to maintain awareness of group dynamics, take the initiative to overcome obstacles, and resolve disagreements. Even in Singapore, the highest-scoring nation, just one in five students could do this.
So basically what we see here is that students in the United States collaborate better than students in many other countries, but that few at home or abroad collaborate with sophistication.