Intelligence Testing

Submitted by: Autumn B.

Chapter Five – Cognitive Ability: Intelligence, Talent, and Achievement

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 In 1904, Alfred Binet and Theophile Simon designed an assessment aimed at identifying children who would benefit from special education services, while simultaneously distinguishing them from those who were more successful with standard educational practices.  Together they would devise what was to be known as the Binet – Simon scale and, in effect, pioneer a new way of defining/categorizing the concept of intellect (Caruso, 2001).

The Binet-Simon exam would go on to evolve into the more contemporary Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, one of the most highly regarded intelligence assessments of our time. This individual test tends to vary in length of administration, depending on the age of the person being tested (older children typically take more time, as they are assessed in more subareas than younger children). The scale itself includes the measurement of four key cognitive areas, including verbal reasoning, abstract/visual reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and short-term memory (Caruso, 2001).

Another common form of intelligence testing, utilized in modern schools are the Wechsler Scales. According to Dr. Wechsler, intellect is best defined as an individual’s ability to adapt and constructively solve problems in the environment (Wechsler, 2003).  This form of evaluation assesses performance, rather than quantity of intelligence. Like the Stanford-Binet, the philosophy underpinning the Wechsler scales is heavily predicated upon the notion that while intellectual capacity cannot be measured, performance can. As opposed to viewing intelligence as a singular characteristic, these tests use multiple scales, crafted to evaluate manifold intellectual functioning (Wechsler, 2003).

Many proponents of intelligence testing assert that the information supplied through these exams is immensely valuable in fomenting student growth.  Some have offered that these types of tests help psychologists to provide intervention options and recommendations for tailoring instruction, which –in turn-bolsters achievement on every level (Benson, 2003).  According to experts, this method of categorizing intelligence, although certainly not without flaws, attempts to ensure that children, whether gifted or struggling, will always receive the best sources of support.  Additionally, researchers continue to challenge the claim of bias in intelligence testing, claiming that these assessments undergo the most rigorous scrutiny and revisions (Benson, 2003).

Of course, the question remains, should we really be conducting intelligence tests at all? Outspoken critics of these assessments contend that the information derived from these measures is, at best, a poor indicator of future achievement and, at worst, an unconscionable and often deceptive method of labeling our students.  According to investigators on the subject, the role of intelligence in later economic success is significantly reduced once the variables of family and high school context are controlled (Zax, 2002). Other contributors add that labeling children in accordance with their scores on intelligence tests can often result in a type of self-fulfilling prophecy (expectancy effect), which can have a negative impact on student learning outcomes (Rosenthal, 1963).

In summary, intelligence testing, while still quite controversial is very much a reality for most modern educators.  Given the current political climate, instructors in all parts of the world are likely to encounter intelligence scores, provided as part of a greater learning profile. It is therefore incumbent upon us to use the information in the most fair and expedient way possible.

 

References

Benson, Etienne. (2003). Intelligent Intelligence Testing. Monitor Staff, 34 (2), 48.

Caruso, J. “Reliable Component Analysis of the Stanford-Binet: Fourth Edition for 2–6-Year Olds.” Psychological Assessment, 13 (2), 827–840.

Rosenthal, R., &. Jacobson, L. (1963). Teachers’ expectancies: Determinants of pupils’ IQ gains. Psychological Reports, 19 .

Wechsler, D. (2003). Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children—4th Edition (WISC-IV®). San Antonio, TX: Harcourt Assessment, 115-118.

Zax, Jeffrey and Reese, Daniel. (2002). Academic Performance, Environment, and Earnings. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 84 (4).

 

 

Discussion questions

1) What role do you think that intelligence testing will play in the future of educating our students?

2) How could you use the information derived from one of the aforementioned intelligence tests to benefit your students?

3) Intelligence testing has proven to be a somewhat divisive issue for educators, with some experts positing that this form of assessment should be completely abolished. What is your position on this argument? Please support your answer.

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to Intelligence Testing

  1. Michelle Peterson says:

    What role do you think that intelligence testing will play in the future of educating our students?
    I believe that intelligence testing may be something that we use to develop programming and groups for students. I think it may be used more in the middle and high school years. In hope it will be used to help develop programming for students and classrooms (such as class size and skills). I see it being used more as a measure of what we need to do in education rather than what abilities the specific child posesses. I hope it will be used to develop curriculums that meet the needs of all learners and not just those who are in the upper and middle ranges.

  2. Melinda says:

    3) Intelligence testing has proven to be a somewhat divisive issue for educators, with some experts positing that this form of assessment should be completely abolished. What is your position on this argument? Please support your answer.

    Though controversy persists over the validity of intelligence testing, there is growing (or reviving) evidence of the efficacy in using such testing, specifically for the purpose of “ability grouping” or “tracking” students. Current research (see NBER Working Paper No. 18848, February 2013, as one example) suggest that grouping students according to similar intelligence or “like thinking” does, indeed, increase student achievement, and multiple articles and reports (e.g., Brown Center, April 2013) indicate that the ability grouping is on the rise again, as a result.

    Given that my personal educational bias is to favor ability grouping, having both witnessed and facilitated its cogency, my position regarding intelligence testing tends toward favoring the practice; however, I see intelligence testing as only one piece of the greater puzzle that represents each student, and, when utilized in isolation, can be as harmful as helpful, contributing to the expectancy effect that undermines student performance on both ends of the academic spectrum (see Mindset: the new psychology of success, by Carol Dweck of Stanford University) by limiting intellectual ambition and success to fit preconceived notions of potential.

  3. Mary Decker says:

    3. Intelligence testing has proven to be a somewhat divisive issue for educators, with some experts positing that this form of assessment should be completely abolished. What is your position on this argument? Please support your answer.

    I think that there is definitely a place for intelligence testing. As an educator of the gifted, we use IQ scores, among other things, to develop cut-offs for our program. Although I do not believe that a child should be grouped solely based on his/her scores, it does provide an important piece of the puzzle. For example, knowing that a student has an IQ of 165 helps me to understand better how to meet the needs of that child. I can start thinking about his/her asynchronous development or multipotentiality issues. On the other end of the continuum, IQ scores provide very helpful information when determining if a student has a learning disability. Services can then be put in place after the data has been collected and interpreted.

  4. Brooke says:

    Intelligence testing has proven to be a somewhat divisive issue for educators, with some experts positing that this form of assessment should be completely abolished. What is your position on this argument? Please support your answer.

    I certainly understand that there are some concerns with assessing students in this manner, however, I think it is a bit unreasonable to abolish it. I think that intelligence testing has its flaws, but for the most part provides educators with important information. As in most buildings, our school does not solely rely on intelligence testing to determine if a student is “gifted” or should receive specialized services. There is a whole load of other observations and tests students go through before a conclusion is reached. If a district or school is relying solely on these tests to label students or determine if they qualify for special serviced, I would definitely not agree with that, but like I mentioned do not have a problem with it being just one piece of information to analyze to get a much bigger picture of the student.

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