Collaborative Problem Solving Skills : 21st Century Learning

Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) is one of the most relevant assessment techniques that are developed by a Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills, University of Melbourne. It incorporated students’ cognitive and social skills development that is needed for 21st century.

I am interested to explore the implementation of Two Dimension progression of CPS that presents cognitive and social skills separately as the picture below:



This Two Dimension of CPS Empirical Progression has clear, specific, and simple rubrics that help us to measure students cooperation and problems solving skills efficiently.  I plan to implement CPS to Grade 11 students in my Geography Class. I think my students’ zone of proximal development of the group members across CPS is very diverse in my class. However, most of my students are in the range of B-C-D level on social skills and cognitive skills.

The objectives of the CPS tasks would develop specific skills into higher level in which students would possess cooperation and shared goals and refined strategic application and problem solving as decribed in level F. They have started to demonstrate effort and recognize partner’s role and share information. Besides that, they also realize they require more information than they have to solve problems.

Currently, we are discussing about Hydrosphere and its impacts to our town, Jakarta, Indonesia. We are going to discuss the most relevant problems of water problem in Jakarta, Flood. Jakarta has been well known as flood city. In yearly rainy season (January-February), Jakarta people has been used to experience flood everywhere. I will present the problem in my class by showing pictures of flood impacts and flood distribution maps that will encourage students to realize how terrible this problem. These are the pictures:


Image 2 Jakarta Flood Map (

The problem I am setting for participants for collaboration is how Jakarta flood problems could be solved critically and creatively in group of 5 students. Each group could choose specific flood area in Jakarta to be solved. The problem solution is not obvious, and it contains elements of ambiguity, ill definition by managing river, population housing, environment, government policy, and ethics issues. It offers multiple possible solutions with multiple consequences. Each case might be different to others.


Image 3 Jakarta Flood Impact (

It requires students’ collaboration among participants and I will ensure that they must work together by asking students to distribute tasks for each person in the group. The first person in the group will do research the cause of flood, the second one will research the impact of flood, the third one will research what government has did to solve the problem, the fourth one will research several solutions to solve flood problem, and finally the fifth one will lead the discussion and design final report of the solutions. The task is set up so that the individuals in the group must work together to solve the problem through sharing resources from different perspectives. After assigning different roles and responsibility to the students, I will encourage collaborators to engage in processes necessary for CPS such as including communication, cooperation and responsiveness, sharing resources, testing patterns, rules and forming generalizations, negotiating, agreeing in group discussion to unite their analysis and ideas to solve specific cases of flood problem.


Image 4 Population Housing on the edge of river (

The evidence I will rely on to assess the learning skills of CPS is my observation notes, documentation, and CPS cognitive and social skills progression rubrics during students’ discussion and presentation. I will assess the cognitive level of each participant by assessing their results of works according to their roles in the report, discussion process, and presentation. Then, I will assess their social skills by observing their discussion and presentation. I will ensure the assessment is manageable and practical by encouraging students to upload their presentation in social media such as YouTube, Prezi, and any forms of digital media that can be accessed by everyone.

I think it would be great in the future if I can involve people in the media to evaluate students’ report by leaving comments and giving them score in social media. Let public see how they learn cognitive and social skills throughout the projects. Currently, I am using LMS Schoology to provide feedback to participants so that they access it virtually.

Another form of feedback is during in class discussion and presentation. I will guide students discussion and presentation by consistently give them feedback. I will provide specific assessment feedback based on rubric in my LMS to each participant about their assessed position on a developmental continuum. Therefore, each student will know their score, progress, and feedback personally. Then, I am super excited if students will be able to take the next steps in their development of this problem solving. I’ll open up this opportunity by sharing this enrichment opportunity in LMS. I’ll provide specific badge if participants want to develop their ideas into advance level.  I’m going to ask them to send their analysis and solution of problem to our governor by email or uploading in twitter or blog so that everyone could learn the results of our discussion as well.

Finally, I think CPS is a helpful tool for teachers in 21st century to assess student’s progressions in solving real and relevant problem in our society. It’s time to engage the students to collaboratively solve the problems using their cognitive and social skills. Instead of competition, collaboration is practical skills that will equip the students to transform diverse and multiple perspectives of people into insightful solutions for better future. This is exactly describe 21st century life would be.

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1 Response

  1. Srinawati says: may need what anthropology calls ‘participant observation from the residents who are affected from the flood areas by conducting interviews for your data analysis. The most important steps also visiting areas to get your first hand experience and see what you can do to help and make an assessment to minimize the damage or the flooding from occurring again in the future…kerja same antara siswa dan penduduk…

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