Educational reform is an international concern as educators around the globe call for initiatives that support the teaching of problem-solving skills.
This skill set is widely known as “intelligence” and is different from traditional approaches that relied primarily on the memorization of facts.
In a new study, researchers from the University of Luxembourg explain that problem-solving skills are necessary for individuals to be able to adapt to fast changing economies and societies.
“Our research indicates that it should be possible to understand the complex psychological processes that enable people to solve problems, a construct that is more popularly understood as ‘intelligence,'” said Dr. Romain Martin, professor of psychology at the University of Luxembourg.
“With this knowledge we could design programs to train people to be adaptable throughout their lives,” added Dr. Samuel Greiff, professor of educational assessment at the University of Luxembourg.
This analysis is detailed in a recently published paper compiled by the University of Luxembourg with input from an international group of academics.
The basis of problem-solving is the ability to use strategies acquired in one area in a wide range of other tasks, the researchers said. Facts are widely available thanks to technology, but it requires particular skill to convert this diverse, plentiful information into useful knowledge.
It remains important to maintain traditional educational goals of teaching facts and different problem-solving strategies, but new cross-curricular skills, indicating mental processes that are relevant in a number of situations and across several domains, are also needed.
University of Luxembourg researchers see strong evidence that this cross-curricular ability can be learned and is not simply a naturally acquired trait.
The science, however, is not yet sufficiently advanced to understand how the mechanisms work — for example, how problem solving strategies can be employed to find a solution for different problems across domains.
Investigators believe fundamental research is required to deepen understanding and then this could be translated into practical programs for action.
Experts believe this work opens the possibility of revolutionizing education. It could offer a path towards equipping all students for the knowledge economy, even those who are currently classified as being “non-academic.”
The paper calls upon educators, governments, international bodies, and researchers to work together to unlock the secrets behind how people learn to become intelligent.