Defining Intelligence (Part 2) – the Dreaded IQ test

Honestly, this has been one of the hardest posts to write because the abundance of hype, craze, scientific jargon and mathematical terms related to the subject of Intelligence Quotient (IQ).  So let’s take a more tongue-in-cheek look atthis otherwise really boring yet still controversial subject.

IQ is a score derived from one of the standardized tests designed to assess intelligence. There are at least 6 credible tests that are being used currently include Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Stanford-Binet, Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities, Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children, and Raven’s Progressive Matrices. So you can take all 6 and brag about the highest score on the “official test” at the next networking event! However, if you have 6 low scores, read on – I will show you how to “defeat” every IQ test elitist that talk about his/ her scores.

When modern IQ tests were constructed, the average score within an age group was set to 100 and the standard deviation (SD) or intervals set to 15. For example, 85-100 will be one interval; 100- 115 will be another.  Approximately 95% of the population scores between 70 and 130. Also, two-thirds of the populations have IQ scores within the range 85-115. These numbers practically mean nothing because every IQ test converts the raw scores into a standard bell curve!

Rising IQ?  The average IQ scores for much of the population have been rising at an average rate of three points per decade since the early 20th century, a phenomenon called the Flynn effect. It is disputed whether these changes in scores reflect real changes in intellectual abilities. In plain English, we know the IQ scores are going up; but we don’t know if it really means we are getting smarter! It does not help that on modern tests, the standard error of measurement is about 3 points. In other words, there is a 95% chance that the true IQ is in range from 4-5 points above OR below the test IQ. Here goes our Flynn effect!  To be fair, Flynn effect has prompted much new research in psychology and “demolish(ed) some long-cherished beliefs, and raise(d) a number of other interesting issues along the way” according to 1998 article in IQ and Human Intelligence.

IQ test may actually be based on an outdated methodology.  A 2006 article stated that contemporary psychological research often did not reflect substantial recent developments in psychometrics and “bears an uncanny resemblance to the psychometric state of the art as it existed in the 1950s.”

Is IQ score even an accurate measure? It may surprise you to know that scientists are divided on the issue of whether or not IQ tests are an accurate measure of intelligence. It is difficult to define exactly what constitutes intelligence; it may be the case that IQ scores represent ONLY a very specific type of intelligence.

Alfred Binet, a French psychologist who developed the first IQ test, did not believe that score can be used to measure intelligence. He stated in 1905 that IQ score  “does not permit the measure of intelligence, because intellectual qualities are not superposable, and therefore cannot be measured as linear surfaces are measured.”

Binet had designed the Binet-Simon scale in order to identify students who needed special help in coping with the school curriculum. He argued that with proper remedial education programs, most students regardless of background could catch up and perform quite well in school. He did not believe that intelligence was a measurable fixed entity. I can sincerely say that Binet was a scientist after my own heart or maybe it is the other way around.

How we have been using these not so reliable IQ scores? IQ scores have been shown to be associated with such factors as morbidity and mortality, parental social status, and, to a substantial degree, parental IQ.  After close to 100 years of research, researchers can only conclusively point to a strong positive relationship between parent’s and child’s IQ.  We are not sure what that positive relationship means or how significant it is, or if IQ can be inherited, and if it is “inheritable”; we are clueless on how it takes place.  

Psychologist Peter Schönemann was also a persistent critic of IQ, calling it “the IQ myth“. He argued that IQ is a flawed theory and that the high heritability estimates of IQ are based on false assumptions. There is also the issue of test-bias. A 2005 study stated that “differential validity in prediction suggests that the WAIS-R test may contain cultural influences that reduce the validity of the WAIS-R as a measure of cognitive ability for Mexican American students,” indicating a weaker positive correlation relative to sampled white students. (Basically, Mexican-American students are found to score lower on this type of IQ test due to test questions’ inherent cultural context.)

So, you can stop any IQ-score-elitist dead in his tracks by saying: “I found it difficult to trust my own high IQ scores considering tests are based on outdated methodology as well as a questionable measurement of intelligence and the scientific community still cannot come to an agreement on an interpretation.” And smile.


What is intelligence, Really?

Intelligence has been defined in different ways, including the abilities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional intelligence and problem solving.  The word “Intelligence” is derived from the Latin verb intelligere with root meaning of “pick out” or discern. It is most widely studied in humans, but has also been observed in animals and plants. Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines or the simulation of intelligence in machines.

Numerous definitions of and hypotheses about intelligence have been proposed since before the twentieth century, with no consensus reached by scholars. Within the discipline of psychology, various approaches to human intelligence have been adopted. The psychometric approach, such as IQ test, is especially familiar to the general public, as well as being the most researched and by far the most widely used in practical settings.

We will take several blog posts to further discuss this concept and to provide overviews of some prominent theories of intelligence that significant impact all training and assessment programs today.

8 Components of Accelerated Language Learning (Part 2)

4. Over-stimulation

  • This is not over-loading students with just information.  The accelerated learning language teacher may bombard the student with material in creative ways knowing that the human brain can often assimilate more information than we assume.
  • Using longer texts, dramatizations and the like (often carefully supported with the English meaning along one side) allows students of varying levels of ability to take what is useful for them at that stage of their learning.
  • This approach also allows for more opportunities to expose students to the rhythm and pronunciation of the new language.

5. Theory of multiple intelligences application

  • MI Theory (proposed by Howard Gardener) asserts that there are 8 types of intelligence: interpersonal, intrapersonal, logical-mathematical, verbal-linguistic, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical-rhythmic, and naturalist.  In the traditional classroom environment, the verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences are often over represented.
  • Accelerated learning addresses this imbalance by including activities that allow the activation of other intelligences.  This includes simple activities that develop visual, auditory, and motor coordination; as in Brain Gym®.  Examples of other activities include: games that involve movement, use of color on worksheets/mind maps, use of songs, raps and music, manipulation of objects and word cards, and so on.

6. The use of chunking

Chunking lessons into shorter periods takes full advantage of the attention cycle of the human brain.  We are most likely to retain information presented at the beginning and end of a session; therefore if a lesson is divided into smaller chunks, we are creating more beginnings and endings and so increasing the amount of information retained.

7. Pattern spotting and learning in broad strokes

Often accelerated learning language teachers will introduce broad concepts to their students, enabling them to learn a great deal in a short amount of time.

8. Objective setting

The student must understand clearly what he/she is going to learn in any particular lesson and how this is going to happen.  There is then a predefined goal to work towards and a higher sense of achievement at the end of the lesson (particularly if the lesson objectives are listed on the board and can be checked off as the lesson proceeds).

What’s In It For Me (W.I.I.F.M) is a key phrase to remind teachers that students want to know how subject material they are going to learn is relevant to them and their day-to-day experiences.

8 Components of Accelerated Language Learning (Part 1)

8 Components of Accelerated Language Learning (ALL)

In terms of the instruction and learning of foreign languages specifically, accelerated learning has been and is being put to good use by language teachers across the world. Key components of an accelerated learning language lesson are:

1. The learning environment

  • A great deal of attention will be focused on the use of color, the temperature in the room(s), the positioning of furniture, background music, smells, textures, and so on.
  •  Also, posters and displays may have been carefully selected with the aim of helping students to absorb vocabulary and ideas subconsciously.
  •  Posters containing vocabulary for a unit, which may not be introduced for a few weeks, may be present in order to gradually familiarize students with the vocabulary in advance.

2.  State setting

  • This is done partly through the learning environment but also through the use of body language by the teacher, the type of music used throughout the lesson (this might change depending on the mood/atmosphere the teacher wishes to create at any given time), the tone of voice employed at any given time by the teacher, the use of color in presentation materials, and so on.
  • The emphasis is on making the student feel comfortable, relaxed and free from anxiety and stress.

3. Mnemonics

  • Frequently used to help students retain and recall lists of vocabulary.  Instead of relying on simple repetition drills, the accelerated learning language teacher will often employ creative techniques when first introducing a new topic.
  • Students may be encouraged to use their imaginations to link items of vocabulary to parts of their body or to locations in the classroom (Loci).  This injects a sense of fun and usually promotes a more relaxed and free-flowing learning environment.