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Measuring Intelligence As A Comprehensive Process

Although people cannot see intelligence, it can be measured. Psychologists measure intelligence using several methods such as the Stanford-Binet scale, the Wechsler Intelligence scales, and the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children. These tests measure abilities such as information processing, memory, reasoning, and problem solving. Tasks that measure these abilities include identifying the missing part in a picture, repeating numbers, or defining vocabulary words. These tests also measure a child's ability to respond in an acceptable way to different social situations. The important factor in all established intelligence tests is that the child must be able to see, hear, or speak in order to pass the test. A child who is able to hear and answer questions will score the best.

For children who cannot speak or hear, there are tasks for measuring nonverbal intelligence within each of the tests. Some of these include items such as completing puzzles or reproducing a design using blocks. However, instructions are given verbally, so a child will need to hear and understand questions in order to respond. There are other less frequently administered tests of performance, such as the Test of Non-verbal Intelligence where instructions are given in pantomime. In cases where a child does not speak English, translated intelligence tests that measure the same abilities can be used. In cases where no translation exists, the use of a qualified translator is acceptable.

The method of measuring intelligence of infants and toddlers not old enough to speak is a little different. For example, instead of identifying children who cannot learn, psychologists measure whether the infants or toddlers have developed a common ability by a certain age. One test used with this age group is the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. This test includes tasks such as rolling over, smiling, and imitating sounds. Specifically, psychologists want to know how an infant is developing compared to other infants of the same age.

After psychologists give intelligence tests they can begin to determine a child's level of intelligence by looking at the amount of items the child answered correctly compared to other children of the same age. Correct responses are tallied and referred to as intelligence quotients, or IQ. The scores of the children in the original group are distributed around an average score of 100. Most children have average intelligence and score between 85 and 115. Very few children score in the low range of mental retardation or the high range of gifted.

Several important factors should be considered when discussing an IQ score. If the child was having a bad day or if the examiner made an error in scoring, the results would not be typical. Psychologists must consider these factors in addition to how the child performs on other tests that measure the child's academic achievement and typical behavior at home. In other words, intelligence is not based on one score from one test. In fact, levels of intelligence cannot be determined unless all of these factors are considered.

Typically, psychologists who are highly trained and professionally qualified in giving intelligence tests will determine intelligence. For the most part, intelligence tests are administered to elementary school children because learning difficulties are easier to notice when children begin school. In most cases a teacherwill suspect something different about the performance of a child and will ask the school psychologist about this occurrence. In other cases, parents may want to know if their child is ready for school and will ask about testing services in their community. Nevertheless, assessing a child's level of intelligence helps identify the strengths and weaknesses in the child's learning abilities. This leads to individual learning programs for the child and more useful tasks at school.

Certainly, it is important to consider how individuals think about information in order to predict learning performance. For this reason, intelligence tests are necessary, and in some states required by law. However, it is equally important that educators do not place children in less demanding classrooms only because they think a child may not be able to learn at a faster pace. As previously discussed, intelligence may be increased. Limiting the type of learning opportunities a child should get will prevent learning new problem-solving skills; educators do not want to frustrate a child who needs a different type of program, and will change learning tasks as needed.

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Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 4Intelligence - Measuring Intelligence As A Comprehensive Process, Environmental And Genetic Influences On Intelligence, Low Intelligence Scores