Submitted by: Autumn B.
Chapter Five – Cognitive Ability: Intelligence, Talent, and Achievement
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.
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).
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.