As defined in the PISA 2015 draft, CPS, short for Collaborative Problem Solving, is “a critical and necessary skill across educational settings and in the workforce (…) It is the capacity of an individual to effectively engage in a process whereby two or more agents attempt to solve a problem by sharing the understanding and effort required to come to a solution and pooling their knowledge, skills and efforts to reach that solution”.
Since “no man is an island” (John Donne), we, as teachers, are bound to know how to tackle such an issue in order to teach it well and emphasize its use when it comes to collaborating to solve a task. Even if great minds can think alike, different minds can bring to the table different talents and ways of seeing the world and creativity should always be an aspect we cherish and assess when solving a task. CPS is more complex than usual group work because it includes a lot of different behaviors and strands, at different levels.
The social and cognitive skills involved in CPS are quite complex and they demonstrate the vast area of expertise that those who have to finalize a task should possess. On the one hand, certain students can be good at looking for information, while others excel at organizing it and setting the right strategies to reach their solution, not after serious negotiation has taken place. On the other hand, when working together, students inevitably see how things can be done differently and they definitely learn from their peers, even without realizing it. This exchange of certain skills is one of the aspects that are of extreme importance when students are involved in CPS activities because they can all evolve and learn from each other without the stress of being too aware of that process and having to reach a certain level of knowledge.