Applied History of Psychology/Theories on Intelligence

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During the era of psychometrics and behaviourism, intelligence was thought to be a single, inherit entity. The human mind was believed by some to be a "blank slate" that could be educated and trained to learn anything if taught in the appropriate manner. However, contrary to this notion, an increasing number of researchers and psychologists now believe that the opposite is true; that is, individuals are born with and possess different levels of ability. The development and use of intelligence tests have been one way that researchers and psychologists have attempted to support their argument. Gardner (1993) expresses this view quite elegantly, stating that "there exists a multitude of intelligences, quite independent of each other; that each intelligence has its own strengths and constraints; that the mind is far from unencumbered at birth; and that it is unexpectedly difficult to teach things that go against early 'naive' theories that challenge the natural lines of force within an intelligence and its matching domains."

Howard Gardner[edit]

Howard Gardner has earned his place in psychological history for revolutionizing education with his Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983).


Howard Gardner was born in Scranton Pennsylvania in 1943, five years after his parents fled from Nürnberg, Germany. The family's loss of Howard's older brother resulted in his being raised in a protective environment that favoured the pursuit of intellectual interests over adventure (Winner, 2007).

As a young man, Gardner attended Harvard University with the intention of studying law. This notion changed, however, he met a number of influential individuals: psychoanalyst Eric Erikson, sociologist

David Riesman, and cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner. Gardner was consequentially inspired to pursue interests in psychology and social sciences (Winner, 2007).

Gardner graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1965, and entered Harvard University's Doctoral programme in 1966. In 1967, he began working on Project Zero—a research team on arts education. This pursuit became a forum for Gardner to explore his interest in human cognition; it also became a passionate commitment that would span over twenty years (Winner, 2007).

By 1971, Gardner earned his PhD from Harvard, completing his dissertation on style and sensitivity in children. He then lectured at Harvard until 1986, when he began teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (Winner, 2007).

To date, Howard Gardner has received honorary degrees from twenty-one different colleges and universities. Internationally, these include institutions in Ireland, Italy, Israel, and Chile. He continues to co-direct Project Zero with David Perkins.

Some of Gardner's accomplishments include the following:

  • First American to receive the University of Louisville's Grawemeyer Award in Education in 1990
  • Received a Fellowship from the Hohn S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 2002
  • Named an Honorary Professor at East China Normal University in Shanghai in 2004
  • Selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of the 100 most influential intellectuals in the world in 2005


Gardner's first major book, The Shattered Mind, was published in 1975. He would write and publish at least fifteen more major books. Some of these works include: Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence (1983), To Open Minds: Chinese Clues to the Dilemma of Contemporary Education (1989), The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach (1991), Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence (1993)—this second edition celebrated the ten year anniversary of the original work, Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century (1999), and The Disciplined Mind: Beyond Facts and Standardized Tests: The K-12 Education that Every Child Deserves (1999).


Howard Gardner viewed intelligence as "the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural settings" (Gardner & Hatch, 1989). He is most known for his work on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences.


Theory of Multiple Intelligences[edit]

Howard Gardner's (1983) original theory of Multiple Intelligences comprised seven types of intelligences:

  • Linguistic Intelligence
Linguistic intelligence is the ability to learn languages and to use one's skill in using language effectively to accomplish specific goals. Individuals high in linguistic intelligence are often writers, poets, and lawyers.
  • Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
Logical-mathematical intelligence is the ability to analyze problems logically. It includes skill at completing mathematical operations and solving mathematical problems as well as the ability to investigate hypotheses scientifically. Those high in logical-mathematical intelligence tend to be logical thinkers with high deductive reasoning skills.
  • Spatial Intelligence
Spatial intelligence refers to an individual's ability to represent the spatial world in his or her own mind. It includes skill at recognizing and using patterns. Architects, urban planners, geographers, cartographers, pilots, and sailors tend to be high in spatial intelligence abilities.
  • Musical Intelligence
Musical intelligence includes abilities in composing and performing music and in recognizing and composing musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. It also includes skills in recognizing and appreciating musical patterns. Individuals high in musical intelligence may have talents in vocal and/or instrumental abilities.
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence refers to an individual's ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements. According to Gardner, mental and physical abilities are related. Athletes, dancers, actors, and performers often display high levels of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.
  • Interpersonal Intelligence
Interpersonal intelligence is concerned with an individual's ability understand the intentions, motivations, and desires of other people. Such skills are beneficial in working and getting along with others. Those high in interpersonal intelligence are often educators, salespeople, religious and political leaders, counsellors and social workers.
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence
Intrapersonal intelligence refers to the capacity to understand oneself--one's thoughts, feelings, fears, desires, and motivations. It includes the ability to use this knowledge toward successful outcomes. Writers and artists often demonstrate intrapersonal intelligence in their work.

Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences has received strong positive responses from educators, who readily adapted his work to applied settings in the classroom.

Since Gardner's original listing of the seven intelligences, other possible candidates or forms of intelligence have been discussed and considered for inclusion. These forms of intelligence include:

  • Naturalist Intelligence
Naturalist intelligence refers to an individual's ability to recognize, categorize, and draw upon certain features of the environment.
  • Spiritual Intelligence
Spiritual intelligence explores the nature of existence.
  • Existential Intelligence
Existential intelligence refers to the concern with the "ultimate issues."
  • Moral Intelligence
Moral Intelligence refers to the concern with rules, behaviours, and attitudes that govern the sanctity of human life as well as lives of other living creatures and the world they live in.

Robert Sternberg[edit]

Robert J. Sternberg may be considered one of the most prominent psychologists of this century. In addition to his theoretical contributions, Sternberg is the author of over 1100 published works. His major contributions to psychology have been his work on intelligence, creativity, and wisdom.


Robert J. Sternberg was born on December 8, 1949. From an early age, he was interested in intelligence, and at the age of 13 he designed and wrote his first intelligence test. Sternberg graduated in psychology from Yale University in 1972, and then went on to earn his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1975. He also holds five honorary doctorates. Sternberg’s work in studying various types of intelligence led to development of his Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence (1985). In 2004, he was IBM Professor of Psychology and Education, Professor of Management in the School of Management, and Director of the Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise at Yale University. This centre has been relocated to Tufts University (2007). Sternberg was President-Elect of the Eastern Psychological Association from 2005-2006 (Tufts, 2007).

Robert J. Sternberg is currently Dean of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University. His commitments and accomplishments in the fields of psychology and education are many:

  • The American Psychological Foundation Board of Directors
  • The Editorial Board of Intelligence
  • The American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • The American Psychological Association—in 15 divisions
  • The American Psychological Society
  • The Connecticut Psychological Association
  • The Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters
  • The International Association for Empirical Aesthetics
  • The Laureate Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi
  • The Society of Experimental Psychologists
  • Former president of the APA Divisions of General Psychology, Educational Psychology, Psychology and the Arts, and Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology of the APA
  • Past Editor of the Psychological Bulletin and The APA Review of Books: Contemporary Psychology.
  • Winner of awards from APA, AERA, APS, to name a few (Tufts, 2007)

Some of Sternberg’s published works on intelligence include: Successful Intelligence (1998), Teaching for Successful Intelligence (1998), Handbook of Creativity (1999), Practical Intelligence in Everyday life (2000), and Why Schools Should Teach for Wisdom: The Balance Theory of Wisdom in Educational Settings (2001).

Sternberg (1985) holds that conventional measures of intelligence, such as SATs and IQ tests, fail to identify the high abilities many individuals possess. He recognizes that some intelligence abilities not measured by traditional means may be beneficial to one’s academic, professional, and personal success. From this perspective, traditional educational methods can be problematic for their tendency to favour students with strong memory and analytical skills (Sternberg, 1985). Oftentimes, students with strong creative and practical skills are disadvantaged due to teaching methods that do not allow them to demonstrate their strengths and skills (Sternberg, 1985). Sternberg also criticizes traditional methods for a tendency to favour students of higher socio-economic backgrounds. His research led to the development of the Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence and the theory of Successful Intelligence.

Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence[edit]

Sternberg's (1985) Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence includes three facets:

  • Analytical Intelligence (componential)
Analytical Intelligence is a measure of one's ability to solve academic problems, such as analogies and puzzles. It is seen as a reflection of how the individual relates to one's internal world.
  • Creative Intelligence (experiential)
Creative Intelligence reflects an individual's ability to connect their internal world to their external reality. It includes one's ability to use prior knowledge in new or innovative ways in different circumstances, such as finding a new approach to a problem. In this way, creative intelligence encompasses creative thinking.
  • Practical Intelligence (contextual)
Practical Intelligence involves one's ability to understand and effectively deal with everyday tasks. It is reflective of how the individual relates to the external world.

Most individuals will score higher in one of the three areas of intelligence.

Theory of Successful Intelligence[edit]

Sternberg (1999) holds that individuals who excel in all areas of the triarchic intelligence test may be considered to have successful intelligence, which he defines as the ability to achieve success in accordance with one's personal standards and within one's socio-cultural context. Individuals with high levels of successful intelligence tend to be better equipped for success and able to adapt well to their socio-cultural context.

Sternberg’s (1999) construct of successful intelligence may be applied to educational settings with the aim of increasing student learning while bridging gaps among socio-economic and ethnically diverse groups. In addition, the theory of successful intelligence offers researchers, psychologists, and educators an opportunity to redefine intelligence, and educational opportunity.

Charles E. Spearman[edit]

Charles Spearman was one of the earliest psychologists to propose a factor analytic approach to intelligence testing. His theory stated that there was one general factor (g) and one or more specific factors (s) that accounted for individuals' performance on intelligence tests. Spearman conceptualized the g factor as general mental energy. This factor is involved in deductive reasoning and is linked to the "skill, speed, intensity, and extent of intellectual output." (Sattler, 2001, 138). Spearman believed that general mental ability represented the 'inventive' aspect to mental ability rather than the 'reproductive' aspect. The cognitive abilities associated with general mental ability might include being able to describe how two concepts are related or being able to find a second idea that is related to one that has already been proposed. Tests with high g loading are complex and include tasks that involve reasoning and hypothesis testing (Sattler, 2001). Tests with low g loadings are less complex and include tasks that involve recognition, recall, and speed (Sattler, 2001).

Emotional Intelligence[edit]

The construct of emotional intelligence, or (EQ), is becoming an increasingly valued area of psychological research due to the adaptive properties it holds for both the individual and society. Experts vary somewhat in their definition of emotional intelligence and the standards for its empirical assessment, but most agree that individuals having high EQ scores possess character traits that foster strong interpersonal skills, excellent coping strategies, and decision-making abilities that lead to positive outcomes. Theories and applications of emotional intelligence aim to improve quality of life of the individual by helping her/him to achieve goals, form satisfying relationships, find meaningful work, and attain personal and professional success. An understanding of emotional intelligence is therefore not only conducive to intellectual growth, it holds a significant role in individual happiness.


The study of intelligence has a rich history in cognition, and it was long held that the arousal state of emotion caused disorganization of cognitive activity (Massey, 2002). Charles Darwin challenged this notion when he wrote The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals in 1872. Darwin's work recognized the emotional system as important to survival across species. According to Darwin's theory, emotions served as an important signaling system that served as being highly adaptive (Darwin, 1872).

About a century later, Howard Gardner challenged the traditional notion of IQ in his day by introducing the world to new intelligences, proposing that individuals have many intelligences in a variety of abilities. His famous book titled Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Gardner, 1983) outlined seven new intelligences with highly adaptive properties. Two aspects of his theory, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences, correspond to some aspects of EQ abilities. They are defined as ability in using one’s intelligence in gaining empathy toward others and in understanding the self and using this knowledge effectively (Gardner, 1983). Although Gardner is against the concept of emotional intelligence, his work has precipitated research in the areas of interpersonal relations and self-understanding-components of EQ.

At the same time in history, Sternberg (1985) developed his Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence, proving individuals don’t have to be “book smart” to be highly intelligent. Two components of his theory—creative intelligence and practical intelligence—comprise skills beyond those measured in traditional IQ assessments, with qualities mirrored in EQ abilities (Sternberg, 1985). Some research points to the value of understanding emotions evoked in art, and the healing power of creativity (Glennon, 2000); other works hold practical aspects of goal attainment to be in new approaches to intelligence, including areas of EQ.

In 1987, Nancy Cantor and John Kihlstrom published their work on Social Intelligence (Cantor & Kihlstrom, 1987). Their work would lead many researchers to consider the role of effective social interactions in intelligence, inspiring future work on EQ abilities.

It was not until 1990 that the term "emotional intelligence" was first used, when John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey formulated their original hierarchical model of EQ. They defined emotional intelligence as "the ability to monitor one's own and other's feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions" (Mayer & Salovey, 1990)

Borrowing from Mayer and Salovey's theory, Daniel Goleman wrote Emotional Intelligencein 1995. In his book, Goleman (1995) defines emotional intelligence as: knowing one’s emotions, managing one’s emotions, motivating oneself, recognizing emotions in others, and handling relationships. His theory, derived from work on brain research proves that emotional stability, or EQ, is more important than IQ in determining one’s success. The book became a best seller. The topic of EQ received widespread attention by being on the cover of Time and Forbes magazines; Goleman’s book is also discussed on the television shows Oprah and 20/20.

Expanding on their earlier work, Mayer and Salovey formulated a revised model of emotional intelligence (1997), which gave more emphasis to cognitive components of EQ, and conceptualized EQ as it related to intellectual and emotional growth. This processing model contained four branches:

  • Perceiving Emotions
The ability to perceive emotions in oneself and others as well as in objects, art, stories, music, and other stimuli.
  • Facilitating Thought
The ability to generate, use, and feel emotion as necessary to communicate feelings or employ them in other cognitive processes.
  • Understanding Emotions
The ability to understand emotional information, to understand how emotions combine and progress through relationship transitions, and to appreciate such emotional meanings.
  • Managing Emotions
The ability to be open to feelings, and to modulate them in oneself and others so as to promote personal understanding and growth.

Work in the field was gaining increased popularity, and competing theories were surfacing. Additional work on EQ led to Development of the BarOn EQ-i: a measure of emotional intelligence (Bar-On, 1997). This research produced a test of the emotional intelligence quotient. The same year, the book Executive EQ: emotional intelligence in leadership and organizations was published in New York (Cooper, & Sawaf, 1997). The corporate world began to recognize the importance of emotional intelligence, its role in the knowledge economy, and its impact for success. Following this, Wessinger’s (1998) book Emotional Intelligence at Work explored the applications of emotional intelligence in employment settings, giving more reason for corporations and individuals to learn more about the concept in applied settings.

As the end of the decade neared, additional research studies on the construct continued to be published. The 33-Item Emotional Intelligence Scale was published (Schutte et al.,1998). This work defined emotional intelligence according to the following abilities: non-verbal communication and mood/affect, optimism and pessimism, attention to feelings, clarity of feelings, mood repair, and depressed mood an impassivity. Responses on this scale aim to provide psychologists with valid insights into individual levels of competence in awareness and regulation of emotion, outlook on life, mood/affect, and inpulsiveness. While all this research was going on, controversey and debate over whether emotional intelligence qualifies as an intelligence was high. In response, John D. Mayer, David R. Caruso, and Peter Salovey (1999) published research to support emotional intelligence meets traditional standards for an intelligence. Their work led to the development of the Multifactor Emotional Intelligence Scale, or MEIS (1999). The MEIS was an ability test and was devised to overcome challenges associated with earlier self-report tests (Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 1999).

Recognizing a lack of adequate testing measures for assessing EQ scores in children, Amie Kistler Sullivan developed The Emotional Intelligence Scale for Children, or EISC, (1999). Based on the MEIS, the EISC was devised using child-development research. Giving consideration to children’s verbal and cognitive skills, as well as ther developmental experience, this work produced five subscales, which include: faces, music, stories, understanding, and managing emotions. An empathy scale has also been added. The measurement of emotional intelligence now had an application in educational settings. Sullivan’s empirical studies prove that a child’s emotional intelligence abilities impact on learning and future life outcomes. She states that individuals with greater levels of emotional intelligence come to make decisions that impact on their lives positively; the opposite is also true (Sullivan, 1999). For example, children having high scores on the EISC achieve academic success, whereas children having low scores are at risk of dropping out of school (Sullivan, 1999). This work was beneficial in allowing educators to consider ways of helping children achieve high EQ abilities--traces of this notion are found in the teaching of character education. Teachers were learning how to help children become happy and successful in later life.

The turn of the new millennium brought about research on emotional intelligence in applied settings. Michelle M. Englund and collaborators (2000) proved that low measures of emotional intelligence and social competence are found to correlate to feelings of negativity, hostility, aggression and/or frustration toward others. In group settings, individuals with low EQ scores fail to participate in group tasks and do not contribute to discussions; they display little consideration toward others and their opinions, and are uninterested in group activities (Englund et al., 2000). With this knowledge, the business world began to recognize the value of hiring emotionally intelligent individuals for their skills in social competence. Highly emotionally intelligent individuals are desirable job candidates for their traits in: ability to function well within a group, to work cooperatively toward group goals, and to strive toward attaining positive outcomes of problems-solving tasks (Englund et al., 2000). Emotionally intelligent individuals are respected and wield influence in group dynamics. These individuals are able to guide discussions, promote participation by others, and often make final decisions that others adhere to. They are confident and possess a belief in their abilities and expect success for their effort (Englund et al., 2000).

Individuals having high EQ scores have also proven to be better equipped to conquer life challenges. In an applied setting, Sheldon and Houser-Marko (2001) demonstrated that individuals having high EQ scores are better able to cope with the challenges and changes associated with entering college or university—increasingly difficult curricula and increased peer interactions. Students with high EQ abilities successfully meet such challenges with higher grade point averages and the ability to better meet year-long goal attainment during the incoming year (Sheldon, & Houser-Marko, 2001).

Psychological research at this time also explored the role of emotional intelligence in individual success and happiness. Nicola S. Schutte, John M. Malouff, Chad Bobik, Tracie D. Coston, Cyndy Greeson, Christina Jedlicka, Emily Rhodes, and Greta Wendorf (2001) explored the role of Emotional Intelligence and Interpersonal Relations. They found that emotionally intelligent individuals possess abilities that lead to success in social situations that correspond to overall improved quality of life (Schutte et al., 2001). For example, emotionally intelligent individuals had higher scores for empathetic perspective taking and self-monitoring of emotions and behaviours in a variety of environmental contexts (Schutte et al., 2001). They proved better at effectively managing inappropriate behaviours, such as hostility and aggression; they also respond assertively to anger-provoking situations, respecting both their own rights as well as those of others. Individuals with high EQs possessed increased social skills, are more cooperative toward partners, have more affectionate relationships, and enjoy greater satisfaction in personal relationships (Schutte et al., 2001). In summary, emotionally intelligent individuals get along well with a variety of people and are very well liked; they also receive more positive treatment from others and report having more satisfying relationships (Schutte et al., 2001).

Growing popularity of the construct of emotional intelligence has not been without criticism. A critique of empirical research on emotional intelligence points to the problem of self-report findings. Research that resulted in the development of the various EQ scales may represent or be vulnerable to subject bias. It is possible that subjects responded to self-report studies by portraying themselves in a more positive manner, and/or by providing answers they wished the investigators/researchers to read/observe. Applied studies may also be vulnerable to subject-bias effects.

In response to such criticsm, the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test, or MSCEIT, (Mayer et al., 2002) aimed to measure performance abilities associated with EQ. The MSCEIT was developed from earlier intelligence-testing research by Mayer and Salovey, such as the Multifactor Emotional Intelligence Scale, or MEIS (Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 1999). This new test was designed to measure the four branches of the MEIS by determining how well people perform tasks having emotional content (Mayer et al., 2002). Scores on the MSCEIT reflect ability measures are relatively unaffected by self-concept, response set, emotional state, and/or other confounds (Mayer et al., 2002). That is, responses to MSCEIT represent actual abilities at solving emotional problems.

At present, the construct continues to be researched, debated, and discussed around the world. The First International Congress on Emotional Intelligence will take place September 2007 in Málaga, Spain. More than 200 well-known researchers will contribute to analyzing important theoretical, empirical, and applied aspects of emotional intelligence related to health, education, and business. Another world-wide forum for EQ is The International Conference on Emotional Intelligence (ICEI), which invites expert speakers from prominent organizations to discuss the integration of emotional intelligence in the workplace. Industry leaders from Deloitte, American Express, and UBS—to name a few, will be in attendance at the conference in London, England in June 2007. In addition, South Africa will host the Emotional Intelligence World Summit in September 2007. The Conference will highlight effectiveness of leadership using emotional intelligence in education, business, and health.

In summary, results of research in this field have led to a greater understanding of what emotional intelligence is, how it can be identified, and why it matters. Despite the varying descriptions of emotionally intelligent personalities and abilities, experts agree that individuals having high EQ scores display combinations of some or all of the following: emotional stability, strong interpersonal and social skills, self-awareness, self-management, and positive mood/affect. As a result, they are better equipped for success and tend to live happier and more fulfilled lives.

Given the adaptive properties of emotional intelligence and its impact on one’s success in life, it is important to note that experts are in concordance to the developmental nature of EQ scores (Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 1999; Schutte et al., 1998; & Sullivan, 1999). That is, most individuals can look forward to increasing levels of emotional intelligence abilities with age and experience. For example, challenging periods of adjustment during childhood—attachment during infancy, preschool in early childhood, summer camp in middle childhood, and the formation of intimate relationships in adolescence—illustrate the changing coping styles and qualitative differences in EQ abilities at each stage of development (Englund et al., 2000). Because adolescents function within a larger network of relationships, they are required to employ new skills in various situations, thus expanding their perceptual and cognitive emotional abilities (Englund et al., 2000). Similarly, as one enters adulthood and finds employment and faces the responsibilities of marriage and family life, new and more complex EQ skills become necessary (Sheldon, & Houser-Marko, 2001; & Schutte et al., 2001). It is important for individuals to understand their strengths and weaknesses in areas of emotional intelligence and to find ways to aid in improving these skills. Due to the developmental nature of emotional intelligence, experts are optimistic that appropriate intervention strategies will yield increases in EQ performance measures. Such increases are believed to improve one’s quality of life and probability for success (Sheldon, & Houser-Marko, 2001). Research on EQ has found a correlation among emotional intelligence and measures of empathy, artistic ability, time spent in psychotherapy, preference for leisure activities, and life satisfaction. It has been suggested that emotional intelligence may improve through appropriate leisure activities, such as reading self-help books and being exposed to an emotionally and creatively enriched environment (Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 1999. Listening to classical music, attending concerts, and having an appreciation for the arts permits a greater understanding of emotional self-awareness and creative and emotional expression (Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 1999). Time spent in psychotherapy is believed to correspond positively with increases in emotional and cognitive growth—both of which attribute to greater self-knowledge and self-understanding (Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 1999). For youth at risk, life skills training could be implemented to aid adolescents in setting appropriate academic and life goals, empowering them to successfully deal with future challenges. This may be especially important as low EQ scores have been linked to youth violence and teen pregnancy (Englund et al., 2000).

Dynamic Assessment[edit]

Dynamic Assessment is characterized by an approach first forwarded by Feurstein (1979). Feurstein spoke of the Learning Potential Assessment Device. Feuerstein's background was in Israel, working with children displaced by the Holocaust. Feurstein found that on traditional intelligence tests, these children often scored in the very delayed range, but he saw the progress they made with support and the "spark" for learning they had. He thus spoke of the "potential" of children and focused on this ability to change rather than any score. His approach is based on a series of learning tasks with children. Once a child's strategies are uncovered with support (we would characterize this now as "testing of the limits") he would use this knowledge to help children see how to apply these strategies in other situations, specifically within academic tasks.

More generally, dynamic assessment refers to a process where teaching and assessment occur in tandem. Terms such as "testing of limits" are used to indicate that after a standardized administration of a test, the child's limits are tested by seeing what they can do with a change in instruction, support, stimuli, etc. Other approaches include test, teach, retest. This refers to administering a test, then teaching the child the skill, then retesting them to measure the improvement. Dynamic assessment attempts to evaluate a child's response to instruction. In this way, it is considered less biased than traditional assessment models which can be biased by educational history or culture.

Cross-Battery Assessment (Cattell-Horn-Carroll) Model[edit]

Early work by Raymond Cattell and John Horn reflects a factor analytic approach to intelligence. The Cattell-Horn Fluid-Crystallized Intelligence Theory distinguished between two types of intelligence, that is fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.

Fluid intelligence refers to the ability to understand and reason with nonverbal (culturally free) information. Examples of tasks that tap into fluid intelligence might include figure classifications and matricies). Fluid intelligence is thought to gradually increase during childhood and it peaks in adolescence. After peaking, fluid intelligence is thought to gradually decrease over the rest of an individual's life due to the degeneration of physiological brain structures.

Crystallized intelligence refers to the acquired skills and knowledge that an individual possess. Contrary to fluid intelligence, crystallized intelligence is not culture-free, but rather it is dependent on being exposed to culture. This type of intelligence invovles "overlearned and well established cognitive functions and is related to mental products and achievements." (Sattler, 2001, 140). Examples of tasks that tap into crystallized intelligence might include vocabulary and general information. Crystallized intelligence is strongly influenced by formal and informal education and as a result, is thought to increase at least until middle adulthood.

After this original two-factor conceptualization of intelligence, Cattell, Horn, and Carroll proposed that there were more than two specific types of abilities that underly learning. If fact, they propsed nine different "broad" classifications of intelligence and they developed the Cattell-Horn-Carroll Theory of Cognitive Abilities. The nine different classifications of intelligence include (from Sattler, 2001, p. 141):

  • Fluid Intelligence (Gf): Refers to reasoning, seriation, sorting, and classifying abilities
  • Crystallized Intelligence (Gc): Refers to achievement and knowledge that results from acculturation
  • Visual Processing (Gv): Refers to the ability to accurately perceive/interpret spatial information and visually and mentally manipulate figures
  • Auditory Processing (Ga): Refers to the ability to listen and respond appropriately to auditory information
  • Short-Term Memory (Gsm): Refers to immediate awareness, alertness, and retrieval of recently learned information
  • Long-Term Storage and Retrieval (Glr): Refers to the ability to retrieve information from long-term storage
  • Processing Speed (Gs): Refers to the ability to quickly and efficiently respond to simple tasks
  • Decision Speed (Gt): Refers to the ability to provide speeded responses to tasks of slight or moderate difficulty
  • Quantitative Knowledge (Gq): Refers to the ability to understand and apply mathematical concepts

A large number of other abilities (70) are subsumed under these categories (narrow classifications). An example of a narrow classification would be Foreign Language Aptitude which falls under the broad classification of Crystallized Intelligence (Gc). A third stratum also exists in the model and this level subsumes all other levels of ability. "g" or a general cognitive ability is representative of higher-order cognitive abilities.

The Cross Battery Assessment model takes as its starting point the idea of multiple intelligences within multiple areas. It is empirically based and theory driven. It seeks to provide a more thorough understanding of a child's ability than would be possible using any single test and is based on the Cattell-Horn-Carroll Theory of Cognitive Abilities. Cross-battery assessment, as the name implies, involves utilizing more than one psychological test or battery to evaluate the abilities that underly learning in children. This has resulted in the development of several cognitive and achievement tests that use the CHC model of intelligence explicitly in their structure. The Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities (WJ-III COG), the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement, Third Edition (WJ-III ACH), and the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children, Second Edition (KABC-II) all include tasks which tap into these multiple areas of ability.