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Girls 'better at teamwork and collaboration than boys'

27/11/2017 Joanna

A new report has highlighted a need for schools to do more to help students develop collaborative problem-solving skills, as many students - especially boys - are currently falling behind.

Research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) asked 125,000 15-year-olds from 52 countries to take a test analysing how well they work together in groups, their attitudes towards collaboration, and the influence of factors such as gender, after-school activities and social background on these results.

It was found that girls performed better than boys in every country and economy that took the test, by the equivalent of half a year’s schooling on average (29 points). On average across OECD countries, girls were shown to be 1.6 times more likely than boys to be top performers in collaborative problem solving, while boys were 1.6 times more likely to be low achievers.

In the UK, this gender gap came to 34 points, one of the largest among all of the countries assessed.

It was also shown that students with stronger reading or maths skills tended to be better at collaborative problem-solving, due to their increased aptitude for managing and interpreting information, and their enhanced ability to reason.

Andreas Schleicher, director for education and skills at the OECD, said: "In a world that places a growing premium on social skills, a lot more needs to be done to foster those skills far more systematically across the school curriculum. Strong academic skills will not automatically also lead to strong social skills."

He therefore advised that schools work to identify students who are socially isolated and organise social activities to foster constructive relationships, while also providing teacher training on classroom management.

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