Problems Requires Skills that Few are Trained

When students do receive training relevant to CPS, it is often because they participate in extracurricular activities such as band, sports, student newspapers, and volunteer activities. Even then, the collaborative competencies are not directly relevant to problem solving. The authors argue that it is time to make CPS activities a core part of the curriculum.

Although considerable psychological, educational, and management research has examined factors that contribute to effective learning, teamwork, and decision making, research that directly examines how to improve collaborative problem solving is scarce.

According to the authors, “we are nearly at ground zero in identifying pedagogical approaches to improving CPS skills.”

Developing and implementing effective CPS training stands to have significant societal impacts across a wide range of domains, including business, science, education, technology, environment, and public health. In a project funded by the National Science Foundation, for example, Fiore and other research team members are training students to collaborate across a range of disciplines — including environmental science, ecology, biology, law, and policy — to identify ways to address social, business, and agricultural effects of rising sea levels in Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

“It’s exciting to engage in real world testing of methods developed in laboratory studies on teamwork, to see how feedback on collaboration, and reflection on that feedback to improve teamwork strategies, can improve students’ problem solving,” Fiore explains.

Identifying the necessary components of this kind of training and determining how to translate those components across a variety of real-world settings will, itself, require interdisciplinary cooperation among researchers, educators, and policymakers.

In the commentary, Gauvain emphasizes that achieving a comprehensive understanding of CPS requires taking a developmental perspective and she notes that psychological scientists will be essential in this endeavor. Graesser and colleagues agree:

“When psychological scientists collaborate with educational researchers, computer scientists, psychometricians, and educational experts, we hope to move forward in addressing this global deficit in CPS,” they conclude.