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Collaborative problem-solving
21st century competencies
Formative assessment
Content analysis
Dialogic learning
Issue Date: 
Office of Education Research, National Institute of Education, Singapore
Tan, J. P.-L., Caleon, I., Koh, E., & Auyong, S. (2020). Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills (ATC21S) Singapore trials: Collective creativity and collaborative problem-solving competencies among secondary school students (Report No. OER 59/12 TPL). National Institute of Education (Singapore), Office of Education Research.
Creativity, collaboration and critical thinking are recurrently featured in contemporary global learning frameworks as capacities essential to 21st century (21C) living and thriving. While these competences have long been upheld as integral to human progress, they were historically regarded as expressive affordances and educational aspirations ascribed to more elite groups in society. However, in today’s knowledge economies characterised by complexity and rapid change, these no longer remain the province of the privileged, but are central to one and all’s productive participation in local, global and virtual societies. This is now more of an empirical fact than rhetoric. Economists have shown in a suite of recent studies that cognitive academic skills only account for 20 percent of labour-market outcomes, while 21st century skills such as collaboration and creativity emerged as much stronger drivers of workplace and life success (Levin, 2012).

Yet, there is little doubt that the dynamic and non-linear nature of 21C skills and their constitutive interactional processes are posing significant challenges to conventional practices of teaching and assessment today. Despite notable international efforts in the teaching, learning and assessment of collaborative and creative problem-solving skills in recent years, clear empirical insights that illuminate the relationships between students’ creative competencies and their problem-solving success on ill-defined collaborative tasks remain elusive.

Our research project aimed to address this knowledge gap by turning the lens of inquiry towards the interactional dialogic processes through which Singapore secondary school students accomplished their collaborative and creative problem-solving tasks online. By (i) using secondary data generated from the international Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ATC21S) research programme’s Singapore school trials that captured student-pairs’ chat logs as they jointly solved ill-defined problem tasks online, and (ii) drawing from theoretical and methodological advancements in the fields of creativity and computer-supported collaborative problem-solving (CPS), we sought to first develop and validate a discourse-based analytic framework for characterising and measuring collective creativity (CC) competencies; then to explore the empirical relationships between CC competencies and collaborative problem-solving (CPS) success among Singapore secondary school students.
Note: Restricted to NIE staff.
Project number: 
OER 59/12 TPL
Grant ID: 
Education Research Funding Programme (ERFP)
Funding Agency: 
Ministry of Education, Singapore
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