The Role of Collaboration and Problem-Solving Skills in Career Readiness

Whatever standards a state uses, the clear goal is to make students ready for their careers beyond education. And while math and reading literacy are essential skills, a new study from Wainhouse Research, sponsored by SMART Technologies Inc., says that problem-solving and the ability to collaborate with others are equally important. The study, which collected opinions from administrators, teachers, parents and students in North America and the United Kingdom as well as educational practitioners and thought leaders in North America and Europe, showed, though, that a majority believe that these softer skills are being lost due to increased attention on assessments.

“The study results are clear,” says co-author Alan D. Greenberg, Senior Analyst and Partner at Wainhouse Research. “The role of education is to teach students how to learn, foster their enjoyment of learning, and prepare them to enter and thrive in the workforce. Students naturally gravitate toward collaboration in their everyday lives, but they don’t get the formal opportunity to develop this skill in school.”

Key Findings

  • Research findings indicate that stakeholders believe schools should be doing better in preparing learners for the workforce – significantly better.
  • Many thought leaders and respondents believe that too much emphasis is placed on teaching to mandated tests and too little on having learners collaborate with others.
  • Educators, parents, and students believe that the benefits of a focus on collaboration are many, from encouraging active participation among learners to encouraging learners to take ownership of their education.
  • The research suggests that to better foster collaborative skills, educators should offer an experiential, constructivist education: improved PD, new methods of assessment, greater leadership, and changing approaches to teaching.

Read The Role of Education in Building Soft Skills from Wainhouse Research (April 2015).