Intelligence Definition and Measurement

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Question a

Though the concept of intelligence has been in existence for a long period of time, there has been no acceptable definition of what intelligence actually is. Further, the origin of intelligence remains elusive, just as is the value and accuracy of its tests. Various authorities have attempted to define intelligence from different perspectives. One common definition is that it is 'the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge.'(Gardner, 1999). Another authority looks at it as the ability that intelligence tests measure.

Though definitions are generally used for general purposes, there are certain aspects that they fail to address. In the first place, there are people with histories of autism or those who are mentally retarded, but who are exceptionally talented in specific areas such as music, but poor in others such as mathematics (Angela, 2003). Other people are able to do certain things because of the environment in which they stay, and not because they are intelligent. A child who grows up in a house with a TV set can operate it unlike one who doesn't know what a TV set is. Others are able do accomplish certain things because of hereditary factors, and not because they are intelligent. One's state of health can also affect the way he acquires and applies knowledge, which is not necessarily a mark of intelligence. On the other hand, there are people who have been brought up in certain environments, but who are unable to apply the knowledge from the environment to do certain things. These may be presumed to be less intelligent.

The theory of multiple intelligences, propounded by Howard Gardner, best fits my selected instruments. He identified seven components of intelligence which are independent, and each of which is possessed by different individuals to different degrees. These are the visual-spatial intelligence, the verbal-linguistic intelligence, the bodily-kinetic intelligence, the logical-mathematical intelligence, the interpersonal, and the musical, intrapersonal and naturalistic intelligence (Gardner, 1999).

Question b

The reliability of ACER Test of Reasonability can be tested. Several items which claim to measure similar general constructs are tested to see if they produce similar scores. The candidate's intelligence and general knowledge is tested by each of the 70 items. The test has been declared 85 percent reliable.

Validity refers to how strong conclusions, propositions and inferences on a given issue are (Oswald, 2001). There should be a correlation between the teacher's ratings and the scores obtained by the students. Reasonable reliability and validity of a test must achieve both educational and vocational guidance in institutions of learning.

The normative procedure has to do with a selection of a good number of people whom the test is to be administered to. The wide area from which the selection is done is likely to cause anomalies because of varied geographical, school type, gender, language and the social and economical backgrounds. Bias could be as a result of gender. Certain disciplines could be better handled by men and not women, or vise versa.

Reliability of The Constructive Thinking inventory could also be considered. The items on the scale must be able to test what they purport to test. There should be enough items testing each variable. Validity relies heavily on correlational studies. A number of items resting one's emotional and physical fitness are used. There could also be cases of bias arising from one's age, educational level, and gender, though these should be curbed if the test is to have any meaning.

Achievement tests are used in both academic and professional settings. They include the Basic Achievement Skills Inventory (BASI) and the Test of Academic Performance (TOAP) (Reynolds, 1998). BASI is administered as a group test. It can help identify learning disabilities common in reading, numeracy, select students for special skills, college placement etc. TOAP estimates the academic performance of children places them in categories in terms of achievement and examines how their performance has changed over time. It employs a collection of six subjects. Two are related to reading while four are administered to individuals and groups. The test is timed, and is meant to be done quickly and easily.

Reliability testing is done to test the stability of the results on a test-retest basis in the BASI assessment. The first and second testing of each student is computed and correlated. Two weeks are allowed between tests. The estimates from test-retest samples are mostly fairly strong. Validity could also be tested by looking at the various subsets of the students to be tested. The norming procedure could involve random sampling, and care taken to avoid any bias for or against any group.

Reliability and validity for scores does not come out very clearly in TOAP. However, the test-retest method could still be used. Validity could be looked at by correlations between subsets. As is the case with others, possible areas of bias need to be avoided for then tests to reflect the true position.

Question c

There are many types of assessment for testing intelligence levels. These range from knowledge and abilities of a general nature, to areas and subjects that are specific. One of these is the ACER Test of Reasonability. The other one is Constructive Thinking Inventory (CTI). The ACER Test of Reasonability consists of 70 multiple choice items which seek to test the general ability of learners between 9 and 11 years, and it is mostly used in Australia. Focus is on individual scores, whose results assist the teacher guide and counsel students concerning vocational training. All questions are to be answered, even if the answer is not absolutely known.

The Constructive Thinking Inventory (CTI) consists of 108 self-reporting items. It is designed for mature people of over 18 years. Descriptive statements of thought and behaviour are given, where the respondent is supposed to rate himself on a scale from 1 (Absolutely False) to 5 (Absolutely True) (Simons, 1998). The test measures one's ability to think constrictively or destructively. The results from this kind of assessment are used to help in psychotherapy. It is also used in counseling substance abusers, students in college, human resource selection and work related issues in organizations.

Question d

There are a number of ethical issues associated with achievement and intelligence tests in education. Consideration should be put to the fact that an exam can forever change somebody's life. Care should therefore be taken when setting and administering. A low achieving student could for example be put in a special class from where his needs can easily be met. One could have misinterpreted the questions and hence given the wrong answers, not because he is not intelligent. If the test is culturally biased, the student's performance is likely to be affected. Care should therefore be taken to avoid this scenario. The student's level; of success can easily be hindered by IQ tests which are often considered biased. Ethically therefore, an assessment of students must have an unquestionable level of reliability and validity.

The foregoing discourse establishes that the definition of intelligence is varied, and often contentious. Various theories whose purpose however is to help in the understanding of intelligence exists. Measures and tests at the disposal of teachers could be employed to ensure that testing meets the required standards.


Angela, C. (2003). Intelligence and Autism. New York. Pride BooksGardner,

Howard. (1999) "Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century." New York: Basic Books.

Reynolds, W. (1998). Intelligence Theories and Tests. Virginia:

Oswald. H. (2001). Tests for Research Instruments. Vermouth: Cedar Pine Publishers

Simons, T (1998) Tests and Measurements of Intelligence. Hollywood: Noel Publications