Redefining intelligence

Yale psychologists are trying to develop new tests of intelligence that measure “practical, creative, and analytical skills,” reports Education Week. One goal is to identify more black and Hispanic children as “gifted.”

In its entirety, Aurora is a comprehensive battery that includes a group-administered paper-and-pencil test, a parent interview, a scale for teacher rating of students, and some observation items. The paper-and-pencil test gauges creativity, for instance, by asking students to imagine what objects might say to one another if they could talk, or to generate a story plot to fit an abstract illustration on a children’s-book cover.

A question assessing students’ practical skills with numbers directs test-takers to draw a line mapping the shortest route between a friend’s house and a movie theater.

Some children test “high on analytical skills and low on creative or practical,” a researcher says.

Traditional intelligence tests, these researchers say, measure only a narrow subset: memory and analytical skills. Also known as “g” for general intellectual ability, those skills come in handy for comparing and contrasting, analyzing, judging, and classifying, and they are the kinds of abilities that teachers tend to value and emphasize in the classroom.

Brains aren’t everything. In life, common sense gets you a long way. But, a school’s gifted program is supposed to serve students who need more intellectual challenge than mainstream classes can provide. If it’s a good program for average-smart kids with common sense or creativity, is it still good for the super-smart?

Go to the link and check out the “high-scoring responses” to the question about why the four and the seven don’t get along. I don’t see the next Spielberg there.

For those who can’t access Education Week, the creative question is:

Number 7 and Number 4 are playing at school, but then they get in a fight. Why aren’t 7 and 4 getting along?

High scoring response:

They are not the same. One is even, the other odd. 7 doesn’t like 4 because two 4’s are 8 and 8 is 7’s evil brother! 4 doesn’t like 7 because 7 is a prime number.

The notes for a speech on measuring “sensible intelligence” are here.

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Comments

  1. SuperSub says:

    Here’s a nice rebuttal to Sternberg’s theory of practical intelligence…

    http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/2003dissecting.pdf

    The funny thing about this, though, is that although more Hispanic and Black children will be identified as gifted, so will more White and Asian children, so unless schools start establishing affirmative action-like programs to determine “gifted” status, the new tests will do squat about the percentages.
    On a personal note, I’m sick and tired of these “experts” and activists trying to define “academic” intelligence, hard work, politeness, and respect as White and Asian values. First, its hogwash. Second, their explanations to excuse the failings of certain populations just end up sounding like the same claims used to justify slavery, the Holocaust, etc.

  2. greifer says:

    I just like that the test has a goal. The goal isn’t to ASSESS. no, it is to label.

    “One goal is to identify more black and Hispanic children as “gifted.” ”

    uh huh. That’s what I want out of an assessment.

  3. GreedyAlgorithm says:

    Minor but important point: common sense is a function of the brain, not some other mystical organ.

  4. Cardinal Fang says:

    Is there an ungated version of this story available somewhere?

  5. Hmmm… My answer, before I read the one in the post, was: “because 7 is too odd for 4’s taste.” Does that make me creative or not? Who judges? Is this a timed test? Does creativity happen in a timed way?

    I agree with the others, this seems like pseudoscience masquerading as real science in the service of subtle racism.

    Other answers, after thinking about it:

    4 was jealous of 7’s lucky reputation.
    4, a perfect square, thought 7 was took his prime status too seriously.
    4 hated always being in 7’s shadow.

  6. 4 and 7 aren’t getting along because the kids are playing craps.

  7. 4 and 7 will never get along until both are considered equals.

  8. Mrs. Davis says:

    4 is smaller than 7. 4 knows 7 uses his size to take advantage of the evens. 7 really started the fight when the playground monitor wasn’t watching. 4 felt she had to defend herself because everyone knows 7 ate 9.

  9. SuperSub says:

    4 believed that a system where some numbers were valued more than others was unjust, so 4 created fuzzy math to reduce the importance of a number’s worth.

  10. The correct answer is: It doesn’t matter why 4 and 7 aren’t getting along! The correct answer is that such a “test” will identify more black and Hispanic children as gifted to show that we’re not biased.

  11. “g” measured via IQ has been shown to correlate to all sorts of things for a very long time: prison time, income, divorce rates, brain size based on MRI data, SAT scores…

    “Practical intelligence” correlates to…what, exactly?

  12. Vital Core said, ““g” measured via IQ has been shown to correlate to all sorts of things for a very long time: prison time, income, divorce rates, brain size based on MRI data, SAT scores… “Practical intelligence” correlates to…what, exactly?”

    Well said. But, again, the facts are irrelevant. The authors of this new test are on a mission. The mission is social justice or some other nonsense. Thus, practical intelligence can correlate to whatever you want, like…. identifying more black and Hispanic kids as gifted.

  13. Ragnarok says:

    “Practical intelligence” correlates to…what, exactly?

    More money for progressive ‘researchers’.

  14. If there are multiple kinds of intelligence that are different enough to require different tests to measure them, then what is the likelihood that the possessors of these various forms of smartness will all benfit from being in the same “gifted” class?

  15. AndyJoy says:

    When I was tested for the GATE program at my small school in Idaho, there were two classes–academic and artistic/creative. I qualified for both programs, but since both were full-day pullout, they put me in academic only so I wouldn’t miss 2 days of “real” school a week. My sister qualified for the creative program only.

    This was in 1993 when I was 12, and they were identifying gifted kids based on creative skills back then. However, it was based on observable things like imaginative writing, artistic expression, and general creativity. One test was a worksheet with 10 boxes, each with a different small doodle/shape/mark in it. The object was to draw a picture incorporating the doodle and give it a title. The time limit was 20 min. I believe. Points were scored based on how creative (uncommon) the drawings were compared to other kids’ drawings. I remember one of the doodles was double curve similar to a lowercase m. The proctor told me afterwards that a typical kid would make it a bird flying and draw the sun and waves. I added a third curve, made it into an ant, added a a checkered blanket, another ant, and several foods, and titled it “Picnic Parade.” I earned full creative marks for that one.

    My sister was initially identified based on the creativity in her writing and art. She chose unusual subjects for her pieces. She enjoyed writing from the point of view of household objects, and blew her teachers away with her creativity. When she was in 3rd grade, she wrote from the point of view of a lightbulb and then one of her teacher’s high heels. I remember seeing the form they used to identify creatively gifted kids, and one of the criterion was that the student drew unusual things (not puppies, rainbows, horses, houses, planes, cars, etc.)

    This kind of giftedness should be identified and supported as well, but not in the same classes as academic giftedness. My sister’s class was focused on teaching them a variety of artistic mediums, polishing their creative writing skills, honing their drama skills, etc. My academic classes were focused on logic, experimentation, research, problem-solving, etc. Though some kids (like me) were suited for both, mixing ALL these kids together would have been counter-productive.

  16. JeffreyB says:

    In response to AndyJoy’s comment “When I was tested for the GATE program at my small school in Idaho, there were two classes–academic and artistic/creative”

    When I was in grade school (late 1970’s and early 1980’s) in Houston, I was in a program that required both academic and creative giftedness. I think there is something to be said for identifying and nurturing creative giftedness — but it is neither a proxy nor a substitute for academic giftedness. There should be programs to address both, whether separately or together.

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