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Chapter 8: Intelligence

Summary
Defining Intelligence
Intelligence involves adaptive behavior and may manifest itself differently in different cultures. Some
theorists believe that intelligence is a single entity (a general factor, or g) that influences children's learning
and performance across a wide variety of tasks and subject areas. This belief is reflected in the widespread
use of IQ scores as general estimates of academic ability. In contrast, other theorists (e.g., Gardner,
Sternberg) propose that intelligence consists of a number of somewhat independent abilities and therefore
cannot be accurately reflected in a single IQ score. There is growing recognition that children are more
likely to behave "intelligently" when they have physical, social, and symbolic support systems to help them
in their efforts.
Measuring Intelligence
Most intelligence tests have been developed primarily to identify individuals who have special needs (e.g.,
those who are gifted or have mental retardation). Contemporary intelligence tests include a variety of tasks
designed to assess what people have learned and deduced from their everyday experiences. Performance
on these tests is usually summarized by one or more IQ scores, which are determined by comparing an
individual's performance with the performance of others of the same age. In some instances, specific ability
tests or dynamic assessment may be more useful for evaluating children's capabilities in specific areas or
predicting their ability to benefit from certain kinds of instruction. Tests for infants and young children are
often helpful in identifying those who have significant developmental delays. However, results of tests given
to small children should not be used to make long-term predictions about cognitive development.
Effects of Heredity and Environment on Intelligence
Studies with twins and adopted children indicate that intelligence may be partly an inherited characteristic.
But environmental conditions, including nutrition, toxic substances, home environment, enriching preschool
programs, and formal schooling, can also have a significant impact on IQ scores. Heredity and environment
interact in their influence to the point where it may be virtually impossible to separate the relative effects of
each on children's intellectual development.
Developmental Trends in IQ Scores
Performance on intelligence tests predicts school achievement to some degree, with IQ scores becoming
increasingly stable and having greater predictive power as children grow older. Nevertheless, some
children's IQ scores change considerably over time, especially during the early years.
Group Differences in Intelligence
On average, children from low-income families earn lower IQ scores than children from middle-income
families. Males and females perform similarly on general tests of intelligence, although slight gender
differences are sometimes observed on measures of specific cognitive abilities. Average differences in IQ

scores are frequently found among various ethnic and racial groups, with environmental factors probably
being at the root of these differences.
Critique of Current Perspectives on Intelligence
Research on intelligence has relied heavily on traditional intelligence tests, which emphasize skills valued
in mainstream Western culture and overlook dispositions and metacognitive strategies as important
contributors to intellectual performance. Some theorists are now calling for a shift in focus from the
assessment of intelligence to its nurturance.
Implications of Theories and Research on Intelligence
Used within the context of other information, intelligence tests can often provide an idea of children's
current cognitive functioning. Yet educators and other practitioners should remain optimistic about every
child's potential for intellectual growth. They should anticipate that different children will be intelligent in
different ways and should capitalize on children's unique strengths and abilities to promote learning and
achievement. And they should give children the social support and the physical and symbolic tools that can
enhance intelligent thinking and performance.
Exceptionalities in Intelligence
Children and adolescents identified as being gifted show exceptional achievement or promise in one or
more content domains. Giftedness may reflect itself differently in different cultures, but in general, gifted
individuals demonstrate rapid learning, advanced reasoning, and sophisticated cognitive strategies. In
contrast, mental retardation is characterized by low general intellectual functioning and deficits in adaptive
behavior. In individual children, either kind of exceptionality may have genetic roots, environmental causes,
or both. Children with unusually high or low intelligence maximize their cognitive development when
instruction is geared to specific strengths and weaknesses.
Quiz
1. Which would be the most appropriate instrument to assess 6 month-old Hanna's ability to
memorize and solve problems?
Bayley Scales
2. Which of the following is the most accurate statement based on Sternberg's triarchic theory of
intelligence?
Schools should treat intelligence as a series of interacting components instead of a single
trait.
3. Consider the "nature and nurture" issue with regard to intelligence. Which of the following
statements is the most accurate according to researchers?
Genetics and the environment both make major contributions to intelligence.
4. Which of the following assertions about intelligence is true?
Intelligence involves use of prior knowledge.
5. Ms. Summers travels often and has developed a set of knowledge and skills that contributes to her
success as a geography teacher. According to Cattell, which aspect of intelligence does Ms.
Summers model?

Crystallized
6. Which one of the following individuals would most likely score the lowest on a test for interpersonal
intelligence?
Martha is in peer mediation therapy to enhance her threshold for empathy.
7. Most intelligence tests include what kind of measures?
Deductive reasoning and problem solving
8. In regards to the interaction of nature and nurture on intelligence, what can niche-picking tell us
about children's inherited abilities?
The types of activities, environments, and classes that children pursue may be related to
their inherited abilities.
9. According to the textbook, how do some teachers unintentionally harm students who come from
lower-income families?
They have lower academic expectations for them.
10. Recently, various ethnic groups have become increasingly similar in average IQ. Researchers
attribute this trend mostly to what?
more equitable environmental conditions across society
11. Ms. Chou works with students who are gifted. Mr. Bryant works with students who are mentally
retarded. Upon which of the following statements will these two teachers most likely agree?
Exceptional students should have opportunities for independent work.
12. Eight-year-old Kevin has been diagnosed as being mentally retarded. He often has little awareness
of how to direct and regulate his own learning. According to the textbook, what should Kevin's
teacher definitely do?
Use selected materials that are commonly used in lower grade levels.
13. Mr. Lindsay's newest student, Emilia Mendoza, just came to the country from Mexico. Shortly
afterward, she was given an IQ test to assess her abilities. Which of the following is most likely to
decrease Emilia's performance on this test?
Cultural biases of the test
14. Ms. Chou works with gifted students. Which of the following strategies or concepts is one that she
would be likely to implement in her classes?
Group work done in groups that consist of students with common interests
15. Suzette detected a major flaw in an intelligence test that the school psychologist at her school was
using to test students: the same class was tested twice and the two assessments yielded
completely different scores. What is the flaw in this test?
reliability