The research issue in this study is how to structure collaborative learning so that it improves solving physics problems more than individual learning. Structured collaborative learning has been compared with individual learning environments with Schoenfeld's problem-solving episodes. Students took a pre-test and a post-test and had the opportunity to solve six physics problems. Ninety-nine students from a secondary school in Shanghai participated in the study. Students who learnt to solve problems in collaboration and students who learnt to solve problems individually with hints improved their problem-solving skills compared with those who learnt to solve the problems individually without hints. However, it was hard to discern an extra effect for students working collaboratively with hints - although we observed these students working in a more structured way than those in the other groups. We discuss ways to further investigate effective collaborative processes for solving physics problems.