Discuss And Critique The Construct Of Intelligence

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The idea that children learn in a variety of ways appears in literature dating back to the ancient Chinese, Hebrews and Romans Philosophy quote. It is a topic that continues to appeal to modern educational psychologists who seek to explain the connection between teaching and learner variation .

For the purpose of this essay, 'Why are some learners more successful than others?', we first need to define what is meant by 'successful' in the context of learning. It is an important but far from simple matter. Sternberg (2003) highlights the notion that the definition of success is idiographic. The use of the general societal criteria of success, which includes school grades and personal income amongst others, can at the same time obscure the fact that these operationalisations don't always incorporate personal definitions of success. For example in the context of education, some people may choose to highlight achievements in extracurricular activities, like sports or art, and pay less attention to grades in school. Further obscurity in defining success is encountered when trying to provide a definition that will be applicable and accepted across cultures. In the Western part of the developed world, for example, academic-based tests show correlation with later career success and hold the key to further academic and vocational advancement- a criteria used within western society when describing if someone is successful . The same measure of success would not be as easily transferred to a Kenyan society where children who have traditionally valued skills that are prized by the community tend to underachieve in school tests. These descriptions collected from cultural approaches say more about the context of successful behaviour than they do about the causes of such success.

In this essay, the term 'successful learner' will be considered as an individual with the ability and potential to achieve in a variety of procedures and insights which have been learned and thereby influence success in later life. Success will be measured by academic achievement as it has been found to lead to further academic and vocational advancement, a quality perceived as successful in the western world (Sternberg, 1997). To extend this proposed definition further I believe, a 'successful learner', is an individual who has developed a range of procedures through their academic and vocational advancement, which will allow them to adapt to a specific situation, instead of being limited to a known 'correct' procedure for each given situation.

In the context of school, Butler-Por (1987) proposed that achievement, creativity and intelligence measures demonstrated true ability and success. Many psychologists have believed that IQ, a measure used to determine cognitive ability, is the best predictor for success in life. It is not surprising that this correlation has been seen in research projects, as IQ has been studied where it is most appreciated, in the more developed economical markets of the western world .

Intelligence intro link to academic tests and grades- justify choice. In this proposed context, it is important to note that success, as predicted and measured by educational attainment, may be affected by a variety of factors, not just intelligence. These may include the students': gender, personality traits and motivation; intelligence and creativity; school attendance and engagement; social background and parental support. Other possible factors may also include the school ethos, teaching quality and the provision of appropriate learning experiences .

Unfortunately, It is beyond the scope of this essay to uncover all of these factors. This essay will discuss the effect of intelligence on the success of a learner. It will examine current and conventional theories and measurements of intelligence, while considering how intelligence tests have been used and the importance of such measures to education as the foundations for success in later life as perceived by the western part of the developed world. X number of theories will be discussed as outlined by .... Each theory... the author acknowledges that the definition of intelligence...It could be argued that...


Teachers often use 'intelligent' or 'unintelligent' descriptors to refer to their students, but ask them to define what they mean by this term and they often are uncertain or struggle to offer a satisfactory answer. QUOTES OF DEFINITIONS OF INTELLIGENCE.

Many psychologists have proposed definitions of intelligence over the years; their definitions of intelligence have varied and as a result a single history of the field of intelligence does not exist. Instead, many histories have been accepted and extrapolated over time to support further developing theories. The evolution of such histories can be seen by comparing the histories described in literature written, for example, by Carroll (1993), Herrnstein and Murray (1994), and Jensen (1992), which read very differently from the histories detailed by Gardner (1999) or Sacks' (1999) publications, even though there contributions to the field of intelligence were in the same decade.

This lack of a single implicit theory in the field of intelligence has given rise to some intelligence tests used in research, being based more on the opinions of their creator's definition of intelligence rather than on formal theories. A view shared by, E.G. Boring (1923), who once defined intelligence as " . . . the capacity to do well in an intelligence test. Intelligence is what the tests test" , p. 35). In Boring's defence, he criticised his own definition as being "narrow", but since then this definition or derivates have been adopted by specialists in the field of intelligence, which further emphasizes the uncertain construct of intelligence . This circular definition, from a scientific point of view is problematic as the definition does not call into question the operations used to measure intelligence it merely legitimates a given claim. Secondly, the definition suggests that intelligence tests correlate with each other providing a uniform measure, although some tests have been found to correlate positively with each other, a concept noted by Spearman , this relationship has been found to be less than seamless even bordering on unreliable. Thereby, indicating that what intelligence tests test is not a single uniform idea. Even supporters of a general factor of intelligence have been known to recognise that the general factor is insufficient in determining intelligence as a whole .

There have been many definitions of intelligence proposed over the years. The well known symposia of 1921 and later 1986 studied the definitions proposed by experts of their time. Sternberg and Berg noted that there was some degree of general agreement between the two symposia. There were also central themes occurring in both symposia, which was promising. But although some similarities in ideas were seen some, differences were still apparent. Further differences are seen when lay conceptions of intelligence are considered. These definitions tend to be broader than the ones given by experts who are proponents of g, general intelligence. A study carried by Sternberg and his colleagues showed that peoples' conceptions of intelligence comprised of a three factor view, which included practical problem solving, verbal and social competence abilities. It is interesting to note that only one of these factors, practical problem solving, is measured by conventional intelligence tests. But in keeping with the experts, lay persons' conceptions are not uniform. Across different cultures different factors are found to contribute to that society's definition of intelligence. For example, in a study of Taiwanese Chinese conceptions of intelligence, Yang and Sternberg , revealed that the Taiwanese also included a cognitive factor to their conceptions like their western based study, but also included factors relating to interpersonal competence, intrapersonal competence, intellectual self- assertion and intellectual self-effacement. Even more relevant to the nature of this essay, a study carried out in San Jose, California, among different ethnic groups which included the conceptions of 359 parents showed that the more closely the parent's conception of intelligence was to that of their children's teacher, the better their child did in school . This shows that teachers have a conception of intelligence, and the children that do well are valued on the kinds of attributes that are associated with the teachers' conception of intelligence.

Many psychologists have believed that IQ, a measure used to determine cognitive ability, is the best predictor for success in life. It is not surprising that this correlation has been seen in research projects, as IQ has been studied where it is most appreciated, in the more developed economical markets .