Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Who is Smart?

"Everybody's special, Dash"....
"Which is just another way of saying nobody is..." - The Incredibles

The question of Who is Smart' or 'Who is Special' is an insidious one, because whether we want to our not, we all have some sort of expectations of ourselves. Kevin McGrew, co-author of the Woodcock-Johnson III, is a new member of the blogosphere and he has added an interesting post IQ Scores, NCLB & Forrest Gump on his new blog at: http://intelligencetesting.blogspot.com. Some highlights:

"Correlations of this magnitude tell us that IQ tests, on their best days, predict 40-50% of school achievement (Applied Psychometrics 101 – square the correlations and multiply by 100 to get the percent of variance explained). This is very good. Yet…50-60% of a person’s school achievement is still related to factors “beyond IQ!”

"In the context of NCLB (No Child Left Behind), there is a real fear that IQ test scores may seduce educators and other education-related professionals into the “soft bigotry of low expectations”

In fact, when high IQ or prodigy subjects are wheeled into the fMRI scanners, not suprisingly, there are very different patterns of brain activation depending on what task and what kind of prodigy. There are certain areas that appear to be more common than others (frontal, temporal) and these may reflect task-related requirements such as working memory or insight. The parietal lobes also appear to important for many high level events -probably because the importance of imagery in problem solving and idea manipulation. These people are different from others - and what's more we can learn from them.

Today, IQ testing is one of the most common tools in the school system for assessing cognitive ability, classroom placement, need for accommodations and cognitive expectations. But good gracious, 50-60% achievement is beyond IQ! Rather than using IQ to tell us about our limitations, we should look for strengths that tell us what to build on.

We have to remember too that a few years ago, nobody would have dreamed that we would have seen brain reorganization with software programs in dyslexia or increased brain gray matter from juggling lessons.

We are filling in parts of the puzzle - understanding what sorts of cognitive strengths are important for high level problem solving, and what sorts of environmental or educational interventions can change brain wiring and its efficiency. The next phase of research will have something for everyone - we will learn how to teach and learn better, and really build on whatever we've got.

Insights on Intelligence Theories & Tests
Fluid Intelligence
Fluid Analogies
Math Prodigy
Insight
Exact Vs. Approximate Problem Solving

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