Sample Article Review on Perspectives on Problem Solving in Educational Assessment


            Perspectives on Problem Solving in Educational Assessment: Analytical, Interactive, and Collaborative Problem Solving is a peer-reviewed article that was written in 2013 by Greif, Holt, and Funke. The article analyses the various approaches that have been adopted in educational problem-solving. This article describes three different problem-solving approaches that include analytical, interactive, and collaborative approaches to problem-solving. It mainly defines each approach, provides an in-depth understanding of each construct, provides item examples together with specific empirical results, and discusses the various limitations related to each approach (Greiff et al, 2013).

A Review of the Article

             The article begins by giving a brief description of what a problem is, which can help us understand why different people adopt different approaches to address them. Although most people in the contemporary world may put blame on satanic spirits for the various problems they face, they have continued to seek suitable ways through which they can understand the mind of mankind in order to solve various problems that they face. This can be explained by a biblical fact that states that mankind lives in a world where he/she is always fraught with fears but he/she is isolated from divine reality (HR Connect, 2005).

The research documented in this article revolves around a large-scale assessment, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) that includes different assessments that were carried out in 2003, 2012, and 2015, and they included the analysis of various problem-solving abilities. According to Greiff et al (2013), PISA is continuing cross-sectional analysis of 15-year-old students from 70 countries that include the various states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and other related countries. Involving the international community in this research serves as a suitable reflection of biblical teaching, which states that God has the answer to all our problems, hence studying a population at a global scale is a way of seeking a solution for all mankind (HR Connect, 2005). The first cycle of the assessment, which is commonly referred to as PISA 2003, includes analysis of Analytical Problem Solving (APS), and it was aligned with different education disciplines that included commerce, mathematics, and science within the domain-specific field of inquiry. The majority of the problems were however identified in science and mathematics where problem-solving procedures were identified through the entire curriculum (Greiff et al, 2013). This framework described problem-solving as a person’s ability to use cognitive processes to address real-life cross-disciplinary complexities where solution paths are not obvious. The findings of this inquiry showed that a three-dimension construction that includes decision making, system analysis, and problem identification can be used to describe the process for solving various educational problems. PISA 2012, which describes the second cycle of the assessment involved the analysis of Interactive Problem Solving (IPS) within the general domain that adopts free aspects of problem-solving. This approach intended to address the various limitations established in PISA 2003, since it is not only the complex mental skills that are important in problem-solving but teamwork and communication are equally gaining significance in modern-day society. It includes a significant interaction between the solution provider and the problem to provide and integrate the information relating to that problem. The findings of this inquiry showed that solutions to various educational problems could be obtained when there is a significant definition of problem-solving capacity through certain solution components rather than basic measures of intelligence. This can be explained on a basis of a biblical aspect that states that the world does not care about individuals that are “just but numbers” but those who can work their way out to understand the divine purpose for their lives (HR Connect, 2005). The third upcoming cycle of the assessment, which is also known as PISA 2015, will include the analysis of Collaborative Problem Solving (CoIPS). This approach links the aspect of problem-solving to the area of research thereby extending basic cognitive emphasis relating to the social features of problem-solving. The research will mainly involve the creation of various collaborative settings that can extract distinct types of behaviors in order to elicit important types of interaction that are necessary for problem-solving. The findings from a previous inquiry on collaborative learning showed that solutions to problems could be obtained through team interaction as people can exchange knowledge relating to various problem-solving processes rather than individual problem assessment (Greiff et al, 2013).

Evidence from the article shows that the experimentation method of data collection was employed in this study as a specific population sample was engaged in a controlled learning environment in order to establish how they can solve problems in real-life educational settings. In PISA 2003, the researchers had identified specific disciplines within which learners’ problem-solving abilities would be analyzed. Cognitive processes that were divided into specific mental abilities were then employed to analyze problem-solving abilities that students would employ to respond to specific problems that were provided in a real-life context (Greiff, et al, 2013). Simulate in PISA 2012, computer-based tests were employed, and these were controlled within three to four minutes in order to analyze how students can interact with technical or non-technical machines during problem-solving. Conversely, PISA 2015 will include analysis of interactions between a controlled task and various problem solvers in order to establish how collaboration can be exhibited when handling various team tasks. The item example provided in PISA 2015 further indicates that different types of collaborative settings can be created to elicit varying types of behaviors. This shows that certain controlled environments might be created to elicit certain behaviors related to problem-solving, which is usually the case with the experimental method of data collection (Greiff et al, 2013).

Applying the results of this study in education would be beneficial as teachers would be able to understand the various ways through which effective learning that enhance success among students can be obtained. The results can particularly help teachers to understand that problem solving does not merely involve mental processes but can include technical as well as non-technical interactions. This would help them create a dynamic learning environment where students employ technological and collaborative learning approaches to address various education challenges (Greiff et al, 2013).

Although the three cycles of assessments have been described under a universal umbrella of problem-solving, they have merely looked into the cognitive processes employed in problem-solving. A major question that can arise from this study is whether there are specific theoretical as well as empirical processes that that can be employed in problem-solving. Further research should thus investigate theoretical and empirical processes for problem-solving (Greiff et al, 2013).

This research article is also important in responding to the question relating to the role of research in educational psychology since it helps to integrate educational assessment with cognitive science, which is the main benchmark upon which inquiry on problem-solving is rooted. This is particularly because the research adopted educational assessment to analyze cognitive processes employed in problem-solving.


            Problem-solving has gained significance in the contemporary world as humankind continues facing complex situations at the dawn of each day. Various approaches that include analytical, interactive and collaborative approaches have been employed in problem-solving. While the analytical approach proved to focus on cognitive processes, interactive and collaborative approaches focus on a broader spectrum that allows for the interaction of a problem solver with technical and non-technical devices that can help to solve various educational problems. The findings from this research can be used in the education field as they can help teachers to identify the most appropriate approach that can be adopted to solve problems.



Greiff, S. et al. (2013). Perspectives on Problem Solving in Educational Assessment: Analytical, Interactive and Collaborative Problem Solving, Journal of Problem Solving, 5(2), 71-91.

HR Connect. (2005). Solving Problems God’s Way: Restoring Relationships, The Purpose Driven Life, 1(32), 1-2.