Hong Kong secondary school students placed third in a worldwide ranking on collaborative problem-solving skills, according to results announced on Tuesday. The city came behind Singapore and Japan in the latest 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa).
The Pisa survey assesses the performance of 15-year-olds around the world in science, maths and reading, but this year included – for the first time – a test on how well students work with one another to solve problems. The tests were conducted in 2015.
Singapore’s students scored highest in collaborative problem-solving around the world with 561 points, beating Japan (552 points). Hong Kong came third with 541 points. By comparison, the average score for the more than 125,000 students from 52 participating countries was 500.
The test doesn’t focus solely on the final score; students are also evaluated on their interactions and responses to hypothetical situations.
In one scenario, students were divided into teams to answer 12 questions about a fictional country as quickly as possible. In a simulated chat, scores were given based on what multiple choice answers students chose in response to conflicts among team members and how they delegated work.
Local students on average showed they could complete tasks with complex problem-solving, such as orchestrating roles within a team, identifying information needed to solve a problem, and helping team members.
“It shows that the city’s education reform in the past 20 years has been going in the right direction and that we’re not just teaching kids rote memorisation,” Esther Ho Sui-chu, director of Chinese University’s centre for international student assessment, said.