Developing problem solving and other general capabilities: What will it take and how can we be sure of success?

David D. Curtis

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Again, we see a renewed effort to implement generic skills, this time called “General Capabilities”, and specified as a component of the Australian Curriculum. Although not explicitly so-named, key elements of problem solving are present, especially within the “Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT)” capability. Previous efforts to implement generic skills in Australia have been unsuccessful. This chapter reviews reasons for the failure of previous generic skills schemes; describes and analyses CCT as a capability, with the expectation of finding a sound conceptual basis for it; and aims to demonstrate the continuing relevance of problem solving as a general capability, considering evidence of the deployment of General Capabilities in occupations, with a focus on elements of problem solving while acknowledging that such skills are not solely deployed in work contexts. It proposes a set of characteristics of effective implementation that would ensure General Capabilities are understood consistently, developed (taught and learned), assessed, and their achievement reported and recognised beyond schools. It concludes with a proposal to implement the General Capabilities in schools, based on the problem-solving and assessment literature, and to evaluate that implementation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProblem Solving for Teaching and Learning
    Subtitle of host publicationA Festschrift for Emeritus Professor Mike Lawson
    EditorsHelen Askell-Williams, Janice Orrell
    PublisherTaylor & Francis
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Electronic)9780429684098, 9780429400902
    ISBN (Print)9780367001834
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


    • General Capabilities
    • Australian Curriculum
    • Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT)


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