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What are the advantages and disadvantages of an IQ test

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Sattler describes a famous symposium conducted in 1921 at which 13 psychologists gave 13 different definitions of intelligence (1992, pp. 44-45). Some of these definitions are paraphrased below:

Intelligence is. . .

the tendency to take and maintain a direction. . .

judgment, otherwise called good sense, practical sense, initiative. . .

everything intellectual can be reduced to . . . relations or correlates. . .

adjustment or adaptation to the environment. . .

global capacity to act purposefully, think rationally, and deal effectively. . .

the ability to plan and structure behavior. . .

the process of acquiring storing, retrieving, comparing memory. . .

the ability to solve genuine problems or

difficulties. . .

You can see that we still have not reached a common definition. There are other approaches to intelligence. We have studied Piaget, who believed that intelligence represents the biological adaptation of an individual to the environment. Piaget suggests that intelligence increases as children develop, especially from birth through age five. Other kinds of intelligence might include social intelligence–the ability to get along well in society (Taylor, 1990) and survival intelligence–the ability to survive. Certainly the ability to survive in a wilderness will be different from the ability to survive in an inner city, but I expect both calls for similar capabilities.

In school settings, psychologists often joke that IQ is what IQ tests measure. There is a lot of truth to this adage. Ideally, IQ tests sample a wide range of experiences and they measure a person’s ability to apply learned information in new and different ways. They do not measure capacity or potential. They do provide information about cognitive skills at a given point in time. Because IQ tests chiefly measure success in school, they are value-laden. Scores provide a statistical indication of the extent to which a person has critical schools and information, but they should not be directly equated with intelligence. Test scores are a useful index of ability, but they may reflect test-taking sophistication, personality, and attitudinal characteristics as well as learned and innate ability (Plomin, 1989).

One of the first people to systematically study intelligence was Alfred Binet of France. At that time, French schools were over-crowded. This charge was to develop a test that would weed-out the less able students. The 1905 scale he developed is, for all practical purposes, the first intelligence test. The Binet scale has been modified many times. In 1916, it was amended by Lewis Terman from Stanford University. This resulted in the first Stanford-Binet Scale. The most recent revision was published in 1986. The Stanford-Binet remains one of the most widely used measure of intelligence. In South Carolina, for example, it is the only test considered acceptable by law for placing children in special educational programs. The Stanford-Binet differed from earlier tests in that are showed some concern for age. Following Stern’s hypothesis of a mental quotient (1914), Terman coined the phrase IQ, an acronym for Intelligence Quotient. The intelligence quotient is found by dividing the mental age (test score) by the chronological age and multiplying by 100. Average mental age (MA) scores correspond to average chronological age (CA) scores. A “normal” person would have an IQ of 100. Bright children attain higher scores, while dull children attain scores lower than 100.

Achievement tests measure the amount of information that has been acquired through study. IQ tests differ from achievement tests in that IQ are not dependent on formal learning acquired at school or at home. Test creators strive to develop IQ instruments that are culture-free, although this goal may be unattainable in a multicultural society such as ours.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to the IQ tests. (Sattler, 1992). The IQ has a larger range of correlation that provides the amount of success in a wide variety of human accomplishments than does any other tests. Intelligence tests provide standardized ways of comparing children’s performances. This type of tests also may measure a child’s ability to compete efficiently and socially. Intelligence testing is the primary way by preventing the classes from hardening into social order.

Some disadvantages to IQ tests are that Intelligence tests limit our understanding of intelligence and sample only a limited number of conditions under which intelligent behavior is revealed. It also fails to measure fundamental processes. IQs are misused as measure of instinctive capacity. IQs arrange children into stereotypical categories and limit their freedom to choose fields of study.

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