Monday, June 2, 2014

What does the term intelligence really mean?

The term intelligence can mean different things to different people.  In Educational Psychology, Anita Woolfolk (2013) identifies intelligence as the “ability or abilities to acquire and use knowledge for solving problems and adapting to the world” (p. 119).  The concept of intelligence has been around since the time of Plato.  Typically, early theories of intelligence were based around one or more themes of intelligence.  These themes were identified as an individual’s capacity to learn, the total knowledge that a person acquired, and their ability to adapt to new situations and to the environment (Woolfolk, 2013).  Newer definitions of intelligence include not only the theories of intelligence, but also stress higher-order thinking.  I have not ever knows someone who was considered to be really smart or have above average intelligence.    
Intelligence is often measured through IQ tests.  Woolfolk (2013) indicates that “even though psychologists do not agree about what intelligence is, they do agree that intelligence, as measure by standardized tests, is related to learning in school” (p. 124).   Alfred Binet and his associate, Theodore Simon, were instructed with the task to identify children early on who will require special instruction and extra help to succeed in school.  Binet and Simon wanted to devise a way to measure not only school achievements, but also which intellectual skills students needed to do well in school.  Binet and Simon created a test that would allow for a person’s mental age to be determined from administering the test.  This test evolved to become a type of IQ test that is still administered today.  Woolfolk (2013) indicated that standard IQ test scores only evaluate an individual’s analytical IQ, not their practical or creative abilities.  It is suggested that “IQ test scores can provide some prediction of achievement, but if measures of self-regulated learning skills, practical intelligence, and creativity are included, more accurate predictions are likely” (Woolfolk, 2013, p. 126).  


Woolfolk, A. (2013). Educational Psychology (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.

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