What’s Kickin’ Blog
Fran Kick, M.A. Educational Psychology, CSP

How are you smart vs. how smart you are?

Howard Gardner has said for years, “it’s not how smart you are, it’s how are you smart.” Yet measuring your intelligences with the two most widely used standardized tests for intelligence (the Wechsler Intelligence Scale and the Stanford-Binet) only considers linguistic and logical/mathematical intelligences. Education in general over-relies on the resulting narrowly focused single IQ score without substantiating the findings along side other data sources – completely ignoring “how students are smart.” This does the individual student a huge disservice and produces insufficient information for educators.

The development of the IQ test (Intelligent Quotient test) specifically the Stanford-Binet IQ test actually initiated the modern field of intelligence testing back in 1896. Created by French psychologist Alfred Binet (1857-1911) when he was asked by the French government to develop a way of identifying intellectually deficient children for placement in special education programs.

While Binet himself suggested that case studies might be more detailed and at times more reliable and helpful, the actual time required to test large numbers of people would admittedly be too great to do it right. Unfortunately, the tests he and his assistant Victor Henri (1892-1940) developed were (and continue to be) largely disappointing. But don’t blame Binet, he did warn everyone that these test scores shouldn’t be taken too literally because of the many varieties and variations of intelligence as well as the inherent margin of error in the tests.

Using a test that only considers linguistic and logical/mathematical intelligences while calling it a “general intelligence” assessment might be grounds for educational malpractice. Sure, traditional IQ tests may be able to predict success in some specific factors relevant primarily to academic achievement or situations that resemble those of school. But what about all the other areas of learning and ways of learning?

Yale University researchers are pilot-testing an assessment—The Aurora Battery – that reportedly taps intellectual skills not captured by traditional IQ tests. The theoretical framework for this new assessment theory is based on Robert Sternberg‘s “successful intelligence.” Developers say, “the new assessment could yield a very different pool of gifted students – one that includes a higher proportion of students from traditionally underrepresented minority groups than is often the case now.”

Read more about The Aurora Battery in Debra Viadero’s article for Education Week.

  • By Fran Kick
  • |May 23, 2008
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