Critical Perspective of the construct of intelligence

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Critical Perspective of the construct of intelligence

CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND PEDAGOGY

CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE OF THE CONSTRUCT OF INTELLIGENCE

Introduction

The most important variable that affects schooling or performance on a job is intelligence. Psychologists have interpreted the term intelligence in different ways and there is no consensus among them on the term even so far. In psychology this term is treated as a construct whose structure is different in different individuals.

    VThe vagueness of the term arises due to the fact that intelligence is not a concrete material. It is rather an abstraction from the behaviour of the individual which is indirectly inferred and elaborated as an adjective.

The dictionary meaning of the term “intelligence” is the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge. Boring defines intelligence as intelligence is what an intelligence test measures.

Definitions of Intelligence

Several psychologists have classified and defined intelligence in several ways. Some of them are given below:

1. Vernon’s Classification of Intelligence

(a) Biological Approach: Man is an organism among millions living on earth. Environment

works as a foe for him. Intelligence is the capacity to adapt to the environment or new situations of life at every moment.

      This definition of intelligence can be criticized on the ground that there have been many intelligent and renowned persons who were ill adapted to their social and physical environment. Besides, if we want to study individual differences in a society, this definition serves no practical purpose

(b) Psychological Approach According to psychologists intelligence is the relative effects of heredity and environment both. An English psychologist, C. Burt defined intelligence as the innate general cognitive ability.

       In support of psychological definitions of intelligence Hebb and R.B. Catell distinguished two kinds of intelligence. The first is intelligence “A” which is Fluid intelligence and which is related to genetic potentialities or innate qualities of the individual’s nervous system. Second is intelligence “B” which is crystalised “intelligence” and which is related to experiences, learning and environmental factors. These two types of intelligence in normal circumstances so much overlap on each other that they are practically indistinguishable.

(c) Operational Approach These definitions help us to understand the concept of intelligence in clear and definite terms. In this approach scientific terms are first of all defined operationally and then observations are conducted with reference to these terms. For example, in order to determine a child’s 10. we first administer a test of a specific kind. Then we observe his performance on the test and finally draw certain conclusions in the context of the predetermined objectives.

2. Freeman’s Classification

(a) Ability of adjustment: An individual is intelligent to the extent to which he is able to adjust to new situations and problems of life. The more a person is intelligent, the more he is able to adapt to his environment in antagonistic conditions. The person who is low in intelligence has less capacity to adjust to the new situations of life.

(b) Ability of learning Learning ability is also an index of intelligence. The more a person is intelligent, the more he will be able to learn new things.

(c) Ability to carry on abstract thinking This category of definitions of intelligence is related to the effective use of concepts and symbols in dealing with situations and solving the problems through the use of verbal and numerical symbols. According to Terman, an individual is intelligent to the extent he is able to carry on abstract thinking.

3. E.L. Thorndike’s Classification

(a) Concrete intelligence: The intellectual ability in relation to concrete materials is called concrete intelligence. It is the ability of a person to comprehend the actual situations and react to them adequately. This kind of intelligence is measured by using performance tests or picture tests in which the subject manipulates the concrete materials.

(b) Abstract intelligence It is the ability to respond to words, letters, numbers or symbols. This type of intelligence is required in all academic activities in schools or outside the schools. The highest level of abstract intelligence is manifested in the thoughts of philosophers or in the inventions of scientists and mathematicians.

(c) Social intelligence: It is the ability of an individual to react to social situations of life.

It is the ability to understand others and to react to them in such a manner that they may not feel an unjust attitude regarding them.

4. Intelligence as a Global Capacity

A comprehensive definitions of intelligence: Stoddard (1943) and Wechsler (1944) have defined intelligence in the following words

      “Intelligence is the aggregate or the global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally and to deal with the environment effectively”.

Stoddard further elaborated that intelligence is the capacity of a person to undertake such activities which are:

 (I) difficult 

(ii) complex 

(iii) abstract 

(iv) economical 

(v) goal directed 

(vi) valuable from social viewpoints 

(vii) original. 

These activities demand concentration of energy and a resistance to emotional forces.

Characteristics of Intelligence

From the above definitions of intelligence, we can draw the following characteristics of intelligence:

(i) Intelligence is the composite of several intellectual skills, such as thinking, doing. reasoning, dealing, learning etc.

(ii) Intelligence is displayed by the behaviour of the individual as a whole and intelligent behaviour is always goal directed.

(Iii) Intelligence is the ability to adjust to abnormal and challenging situations of life. 

(iv) Intelligence is not related to ordinary tasks of life. It is always related to extraordinary

manipulation.

(v) Wechsler has included the concepts of drive and incentive which are implied in his statement. To act purposefully” and “to deal effectively. But many psychologists are of the view that drive and incentive are non-intellectual traits of personality and if they are included in a test of mental ability, more confusions will be created thereof.

(vi) There are seven fundamental elements of intelligence according to Stoddard. Intelligent person can undertake difficult and abstract tasks with ease. He can manipulate and deal with abstract ideas and concepts efficiently. Similarly, economy refers to the rate at which a mental task is done or a problem is solved. If “A” solves a problem sooner than ‘B’ then A will be considered more intelligent than ‘B’. The term social value indicates whether a mental task performed by a person is in accordance with the socially desirable and acceptable norms or not. The last term original refers to a person’s ability to discover something new and different. ie.. this term is directly related to the creative potential of a person. Discovery of some new facts and principles and inventions of new concrete materials by the scientists are few examples of originality,

Stoddard’s definition of intelligence has been

criticized on two grounds

(a) It includes social values in intelligence, ie.. intelligent tasks must be socially desirable. Psychologists criticize this point by saying that social value is a subjective phenomenon, ie.. what is desirable for me, may not be necessarily desirable for others. So, there is no scope of subjectivity in an objective intelligence test

(b) He has included two conditions of intelligent behaviour in his definition. First is concentration of energy and second is resistance to emotional forces. Psychologists say that these elements are non-intellectual traits and hence they should not be included in mental abilities at any cost

Theories of Intelligence

1. Faculty theory of intelligence:

This is the oldest theory of intelligence given during the period of pre-experimental psychology. According to this theory mind is made up of different faculties like reasoning, logic, memory, imagination and discrimination. These faculties are independent of each other and can be developed by rigorous mental

exercises of the difficult subject-matter. This theory does not take the hereditary factors

of intelligence into account and thus this theory was discarded by the later psychologists who believed that we can never improve the intellectual capacity of a person if he is mentally slow by birth.

2. Unifactor theory:

According to Alfred Binet (1916) intelligence is a general intellectual ability which is made up of several discrete abilities. These abilities include

(i) to reason well with abstract material

(ii) to comprehend well

(iii) to have a clear direction of thoughts

(iv) to relate thinking with the attainment of a desirable end and

(v) to be self-critical

       All these abilities combined together is called general mental ability. Thus, intelligence is a single but complex mental process which can be measured by different kinds of materials designed for the

purpose.

3. Two factors theory:

This theory was developed by an English psychologist, Charles Spearman in 1904. According to him, intellectual abilities consist of two factors, general ability known as ‘G’ factors and specific abilities known as ‘S factors.

Characteristics of G factors

(i) It is a universal inborn ability.

(ii) It is general mental energy.

(iii) It is constant, i.e., it remains the same in all the individuals and does not change with time.

(iv) The amount of G differs from person to person depending on his genes.

(v) It is used in every life activity,

(vi) Greater the amount of G in an individual, the greater is the chance of his success in life.

Characteristics of ‘S’ factors

(1) It is learnt and hence acquired in the environment.

(ii) It varies from activity to activity in the same

individual.

(iii) The amount of S also differs from person to person due to his. accessibility to learning situations

(iv) ‘S factors are related to the specific activity. A low correlation between two or more functions or activities indicates the presence of ‘S factor involved in the activity. A person can be expert only in one or few activities because of the specific factors involved in the activity.

According to Spearman, out of these two factors the ‘G’ factor is more important and thus it is an important measure of intelligence. So, any intelligence test should measure only ‘G’ factor because it provides the most important basis of predicting a person’s behaviour in different situations. Raven’s Progressive Matrices and Catell’s Culture Fair Test both measure the ‘G’ factor. Spearman has explained his theory with the help. of a tetrad equation which is given below

rap x rbq-raq x rbp = 0 

Here,

a = opposites 

b discrimination

p = completion

q cancellation

    Thus, rap means correlation between opposites and completions, rbq means correlation between cancellation and discrimination, raq means correlation between opposite and cancellation and rbp means correlation between discrimination and completion. This theory can also be explained with the help of a diagram given below:

4. Multi-factors theory :

This theory was developed by an American psychologist, E.L. Thorndike. He opposed the theory of general intelligence by saying that there are specific stimuli and specific mental responses. Intelligence is nothing more than a potential specific connection between these stimuli and responses. Differences of intelligence among people are due to the different number of such connections in the neurological system. This theory is also called atomistic theory of intelligence. There are four attributes of intelligence according to him:

(a) Level: It refers to the difficulty of a task that can be removed by using intelligence. If different tasks are arranged in increasing difficulty order, then the height that a person can attain determines his level of intelligence. It is a kind of power test.

(b) Range: It refers to the number of tasks of the same difficulty value that a person can do in a certain period of time. Theoretically, an individual possessing a certain level of intelligence should be able to solve the whole range of tasks at a given level. It is a kind of speed test.

     Range and level can not be completely isolated from each other. We can not measure range without altitude (level) and vice versa. 

(c) Area: It refers to the total numbers of situations at each level to which the individual is able to respond. Area is the summation of all ranges at each level of intelligence. 

Area = Level xRange,

(d) Speed: It refers to the rapidity with which an individual can respond to a test item. Speed and level are positively correlated. It is different from range in the sense that no. specific time is given here to complete a task. Every intelligence test should consist of these four attributes.

5 Group factor structure of intelligence

(PMA Test):

This theory was developed by L.L. Thurstene. according to him, intelligence is not an expression of general factors but a combination of groups of traits. They are intermediate factors, ie, they are not as universal as ‘G’ factor and they are not as specific as the S factor. This primary group of factors give the common mental abilities, a functional cohesiveness and then constitute a group. Another group of common mental abilities is said to have another primary factor and so on. In this way, there are a number of groups of mental abilities each of which has its own primary factors. On the basis of factor analysis of these groups. Thurstone identified the following seven group factors which are termed as primary mental abilities (PMA).

1. Number factor (N): It is the ability to do numerical calculations rapidly and accurately. 

2. Verbal factor (V): They are related to the

operations involving verbal comprehension.

3. Space factor (S): It is related to the tasks in which subject manipulates an object imaginary in space.

4. Word fluency factor (W): It is involved to the situation when the subject is asked to think of isolated words at a fast rate.

5. Reasoning factors (R): It is used in those tasks that require the subject to discover a rule or principles involved in series or groups of letters.

6. Rote memory (M): It is the ability to memorize a fact quickly.

7. Perceptual speed (P): It is the ability to note perceptual (visual) details rapidly.

The point to be noted here is that these seven abilities are significantly correlated with each other.

6. Structure of intelligence (SI) model: This model was given by J.P. Guilford in 1966 at the University of California on the basis of factor analysis of many tests. According to him, the human mind is composed of at least three dimensions-operations, contents and products, and each dimension of intellect is sufficiently distinct which can be detected by factor analysis. These three dimensions of mind are given below:

(A) Operations: Operations can be divided into five major groups of intellectual abilities.

. Cognition : It includes discovery. recognition of information and new understanding of the facts.

•Memory: It is the ability to recognize or recall previously learned material.

Divergent thinking: This operation is closely associated with creative potential.It refers to the ability to search out and think in a novel out of track way.

•Convergent thinking: It refers to the generation of information from given information and drawing conclusion from the given facts

Evaluation: It is the ability to make judgement on the basis of merits and demerits of a phenomenon. Here, value judgement on knowledge and thoughts is placed after critically examining them.

(B) Contents: Five kinds of contents are involved here. Operations are performed on these contents.

•Figural content: It is the concrete material perceived through the senses. Visual materials have three properties, size, form and colour.

•Auditory content: It includes nature and characteristics of sound perceived.

•Symbolic content: It includes letters. digits and other conventional signs usually organised in general pattern.

•Semantic content: It refers to those verbal

meanings, ideas and concepts for which no examples are necessary. 

•Behavioural content: It includes. knowledge regarding other persons.

(C) Products: When five operations are applied to five types of contents, six kinds of products are made.

Units: It refers to the production of a single word, definition or isolated bits of informations.

. Classes: It refers to the production of a concept.

Relations: It refers to the production of a form of relationship, such as, analogy. any f

opposite or similar ones.

System: It refers to the production of internally consistent set of classification

of various forms.

 • Transformation: It refers to the production of changes in meaning. organisation or some other arrangement. 

Implication: It refers to the production of such information which is beyond the data given

On the basis of the model given above it can be stated that there are 5 x 5 x 6 150 factors involved in intelligent acts

Educational Implication of the Model 

(a) In psychology: This model is very much

helpful for constructing various types of intelligence tests suitable to different age groups. These tests will help us to study individual differences in the society. This model is taxonomic in nature and has discovered many abilities which were not known before. If t f test maker has included items representing contents and operations, he can see whether products are same or different. Conversely, if products are shown by the subject through the test, the test maker can find out the content and operation and match them with the items given in the test. 

(b) In vocational testing: This model shows that there are 150 intellectual abilities. This model predicts five kinds of mental abilities classified as content. This means that different kinds of test items are needed in vocational testing. Six types of products are also tested on the basis of items representing the products. For example, if a person is able to deal with items of figural contents, he can deal with machines, operators, engineers etc. and any or all of the six types of products can be made by him. such as, he can define a machine or any operator. He can give a clear concept about how a machine is operated and so on.

(c) In the field of education: Conventionally.

learner was considered to be a kind of stimulus response device. Once the stimulus is given to him, he will respond but the new conception of the learner in the light of the SI model is that of an electronic computer which not only stores information but uses that information to generate new information either by divergent or convergent thinking.

     Thus, this model gives the idea that learning is not merely the association of information but it is the discovery of information as well. Model suggests that in order to understand human learning and higher mental processes of thinking, some drastic modifications are to be made in our theory of curriculum construction and pedagogy of instruction. Similarly, education is no longer considered to be the training of mind. Now, the main emphasis on education is given to the learning of specific skills and modification of behaviour and all these materials are not taught merely for the purpose of training the mind of humans.

7. Two Level Process Theory of Intelligence : This theory was developed by Jensen in 1968. According to him intelligence is a combination of two levels of processes. One is associative intelligence and the other is abstract intelligence. Associative intelligence includes those kinds of tests that depend upon memory and simple verbal association, Abstract intelligence includes those factors as concept learning. thinking. problem solving skills, multiple discrimination, principle learning etc.

8. Burt and Vernon’s hierarchy theory:

Burt (1940) separated four factors of intelligence by using statistical techniques

•General factors (common to all traits)

 •Group factors (common to some of the traits)

. Specific factors (limited to few traits) 

•Error factors (limited to a particular trait when

it is measured)

    When human mind is put at the top, there will be 5 level hierarchical model of intelligence where general factors will come next to intelligence and error factors will come in the last

      Vernon, on the other hand, suggested that intelligence tests measure an overall factor G as well as two other mental abilities. First are related to verbal, numerical and educational. Second are related to practical, mechanical, spatial and physical. These two major factors can be divided into minor group factors. These minor factors can further be divided into various specific factors and so on.

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