Intelligence (page 3)
A final factor affecting learning is intelligence, or the inherent capability of the learner to understand and learn. Intelligence quotient (IQ), a quantitative measure of intelligence, was once thought to be a definitive way to measure this capability within a specified range. Extensive research was done to develop an instrument that would provide a snapshot of a person's intelligence without regard to cultural or other bias. Bias is any tendency or prejudice that might distort a view. An example of cultural bias in intelligence testing would be the inclusion of questions that rely on a framework that is outside the test taker's cultural experience, thus potentially distorting the results.
One of the most commonly used IQ tests is the Stanford-Binet. Alfred Binet, a French psychologist, initially developed the test in 1905 for the French Ministry of Education to help predict which students would succeed in school. Binet's test was later adapted for the United States by Louis Terman of Stanford University. The Stanford-Binet or a similar test is typically given to students several times during their academic careers. Teachers can easily get an idea of their students' potential by reviewing student records-or can they? Increasingly, this traditional means of measuring intelligence based on verbal and mathematical abilities has come under attack. In fact, the very definition of intelligence is being debated.
How to measure intelligence and the value system we attach to it are variables that are being given scholarly consideration. McLuhan (1998) asserts, "It is in our IQ testing that we have produced the greatest flood of misbegotten standards. Unaware of our typographic cultural bias, our testers assume that uniform and continuous habits are a sign of intelligence, thus eliminating the ear man and the eye man." As a result of the inadequacies of traditional intelligence testing, extensive research is being done to develop instruments that will provide a more accurate result.
Howard Gardner provided a new view of intelligence, the theory of multiple intelligences. He theorized that there is more to intelligence than what was historically measured by IQ tests. Gardner suggested that these objective tests did not go far enough in representing intelligence. He suggested instead that each individual has multiple types of intelligences, only a few of which can be measured by IQ tests. In Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, he describes nine different aspects or types of intelligences that every person possesses. These intelligences (or talents) include the following:
- Linguistic intelligence (verbal skills and talents related to sound, meanings, and rhythms)
- Logical-mathematical intelligence (conceptual and logical thinking skills)
- Musical intelligence (talents and abilities related to sound, rhythm, and pitch)
- Spatial intelligence (skill in thinking in pictures and visioning abstractly)
- Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (skill in 'controlling body movements)
- Interpersonal intelligence (responsiveness to others)
- Intrapersonal intelligence (high degree of self-awareness and insight)
- Naturalist intelligence (skills in recognizing, categorizing, and interacting with the natural world)
- Existential intelligence (ability to consider and deal with questions of human existence)
According to Gardner's theory, every individual possesses some degree of each of the intelligences he details but one or more of the intelligences dominates. If anyone of the intelligences is of significant capacity, the result is a prodigy in that area. Gardner's view equally recognizes the unique abilities of Mozart (musical intelligence), Frank Lloyd Wright (spatial intelligence), and Babe Ruth (bodily-kinesthetic intelligence), whereas standard IQ tests might recognize only Albert Einstein (logical-mathematical intelligence) and William Shakespeare (linguistic intelligence). This broader view of individual capacities changes the assumptions a teacher might make about a student's potential and capacities. Such reevaluation, in turn, should change that teacher's plan for instruction. If one adopts the multiple-intelligences approach, then learning will be affected by the dominance of one or more of the intelligences in each individual student. Teaching then would have to accommodate these various propensities to maximize student learning.
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