A Framework for Teachable Collaborative Problem Solving Skills

  • Friedrich HesseEmail author
  • Esther Care
  • Juergen Buder
  • Kai Sassenberg
  • Patrick Griffin
Part of the Educational Assessment in an Information Age book series (EAIA)


In his book “Cognition in the Wild”, Hutchins (1995) invites his readers to scan their immediate environment for objects that were not produced through collaborative efforts of several people, and remarks that the only object in his personal environment that passed this test was a small pebble on his desk. In fact, it is remarkable how our daily lives are shaped by collaboration. Whether it is in schools, at the workplace, or in our free time, we are constantly embedded in environments that require us to make use of social skills in order to coordinate with other people. Given the pervasiveness of collaboration in everyday life, it is somewhat surprising that the development of social and collaborative skills is largely regarded as something that will occur naturally and does not require any further facilitation. In fact, groups often fail to make use of their potential (Schulz-Hardt, Brodbeck, Group performance and leadership. In: Hewstone M, Stroebe W, Jonas K (eds) Introduction to social psychology: a European perspective, 4th edn, pp 264–289. Blackwell, Oxford, 2008) and people differ in the extent to which they are capable of collaborating efficiently with others. Therefore, there is a growing awareness that collaborative skills require dedicated teaching efforts (Schoenfeld, Looking toward the 21st century: challenges of educational theory and practice. Edu Res 28:4–14, 1999). Collaborative problem solving has been identified as a particularly promising task that draws upon various social and cognitive skills, and that can be analysed in classroom environments where skills are both measurable and teachable.

This chapter provides a conceptual framework of collaborative problem solving that is informed by findings from fields of research as diverse as cognitive science, education, social psychology and psycholinguistics.


Social Skill Goal State Problem Solver Problem Space Knowledge Building 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Friedrich Hesse
    • 1
    Email author
  • Esther Care
    • 2
  • Juergen Buder
    • 1
  • Kai Sassenberg
    • 1
  • Patrick Griffin
    • 2
  1. 1.Knowledge Media Research CenterTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Assessment Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of EducationUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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