A 2015 survey of 52 countries and economies ranked Japan second behind Singapore in collaborative problem-solving skills among 15-year-old students, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Tuesday.
The top four spots were occupied by those who participated from Asia, with Hong Kong and South Korea ranking third and fourth, respectively, while Canada and Estonia were tied for fifth. Among 32 OECD countries surveyed, Japan was best.
According to the OECD, few efforts have been made to assess students’ collective problem-solving skills despite the trait being much in demand in modern workplaces.
The survey was the first-ever assessment in this area conducted as part of the Program for International Student Assessment, the OECD said.
“In a world that places a growing premium on social skills, education systems need to do much better at fostering those skills systematically across the school curriculum,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria in a statement.
Some 125,000 students took part in the survey, which analyzed how well they work as a group. Some 6,600 Japanese students participated in the wider 2015 survey, with around 2,000 taking part in the specific collaborative problem-solving skills study.
The OECD average score in the survey was 500 points. Top-ranked Singapore logged 561 points and Japan 552.
Just 10 percent of Japanese students scored below 440 points, the best result among the participating countries.
In analyzing the result, an official from Japan’s National Institute for Educational Policy Research said Japanese people’s tendency to work harmoniously in teams may have influenced the students’ performance.
By gender, girls did better than boys in all countries that took the test, according to the OECD. Japanese girls averaged 565 points compared to boys’ 539.
In a previous survey focusing on individual problem-solving skills conducted under the 2012 PISA, Japan children ranked third behind Singapore and South Korea.