Research Paper On Intelligence Testing

This article focuses on intelligence tests and how they are used to assess children in the public schools. Descriptions of some of the more commonly used intelligence tests in individual and group settings as well as the history of intelligence testing are also included. The article reasons why it is important that only people who are trained in appropriate test administration procedures conduct testing and why only school counselors and school psychologists should administer the non-standardized, individual tests.

Keywords Group Testing; Individual Testing; Intelligence Quotient; IQ Testing; Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test; Wechsler Intelligence Test


Intelligence is the ability to think, analyze, solve problems, and understand. There are two primary forms of intelligence, verbal and nonverbal. Verbal intelligence revolves around language problems and the skills needed to comprehend, assess and solve them. Nonverbal intelligence revolves around visual and spatial problems and the tendency to understand and solve those types of problems. Intelligence is known by many different names; among them are intelligence quotient, cognitive functioning, intellectual ability, and general ability. Overall, intelligence testing attempts to determine a student's intellectual functioning level (Logsdon, n.d.).

Alfred Binet, a French psychologist, created the first modern intelligence test in 1905 with the assistance of Theodore Simon. This was spurred by the passage of a law in 1904 that required every child to be educated in a school. But some children were not able to stay afloat with the ongoing workload that school required, and the French government needed to figure out what to do for those students. Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon developed the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale in order to identify those children who would not be able to keep up with classroom work so that they could receive additional assistance or be put into an different classroom setting. The Binet-Simon test was created as a means to evaluate a student’s vocabulary and level of understanding in regards to word relationships. Each tasks was designated an age-level that was appropriate to the skill required of it. An age was given to a task that at least 70 percent of students were able to complete correctly. Each score could then measure a student’s intellectual level and “age” and take away the number from the child’s actual age in years. If the resulting number was two years or higher, the child was said to have mental retardation. The test was revised in 1908 and again in 1911, shortly before Alfred Binet died.

In 1912 a German psychologist William Stern coined the phrase 'intelligence quotient,' sometimes better known today as IQ (Intelligence Tests, n.d.). Lewis Terman, an American professor of psychology at Stanford University, revised the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale in 1916. This revision had students demonstrate competency in many different areas, including language comprehension, eye-hand coordination, mathematical reasoning, and memory. He also used William Stern's intelligence quotient theory that an individual's intelligence could be measured by dividing mental age by chronological age and multiplying it by one hundred so there would be no decimals. He named this combination of theories and his revisions the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, a test which is still widely used today (Intelligence Tests, n.d.).

Achievement and aptitude tests are sometimes mistaken for intelligence tests because they all have commonalities and similar formats. While intelligence tests sample behavior already learned in an attempt to predict future learning, achievement tests attempt to measure what children already know about specific content areas such as mathematics and English. The Iowa Test of Basic Skills and the ACT test, which is used for college entrance, are examples of achievement tests. Aptitude tests are used to try to predict future performance. The Differential Aptitude Test and SAT Reasoning Test are examples of aptitude tests. Whichever assessments are chosen, it is appropriate to select instruments that work well with the child's strength and can collect achievement, aptitude, and intelligence data in varying degrees. The amount of verbal content on a test is also of special consideration when working with children who have English as their second language or who come from culturally diverse backgrounds (Selecting the Test, n.d.).


Intelligence tests are used for a variety of reasons, including to help identify students who may have learning disabilities and to help screen and identify students who may qualify for gifted and talented programs in school. Intelligence tests have also helped the nation understand that all students can learn but that they may learn in different ways. They have also helped show that some students learn more easily than others and some students learn certain things more easily than others. This reinforces the concept that teachers need to be able to present course materials in different ways to accommodate students' various learning styles because some students are visual learners, some are auditory learners, some are tactile learners, and some can use a combination of styles. It is important that assessments take into consideration the various learning styles, and multiple measures should be used when assessing intelligence in order to produce valid results (Law, 1995).

Types of Individual Intelligence Tests

Individual intelligence tests are generally comprised of open-ended questions and must be administered by a trained psychologist or testing professional who is capable of interpreting the responses as well as the behavior of the test taker during the testing session and in the classroom. Individual intelligence tests can be used for the purpose of identifying learning disabilities, usually in conjunction with other instruments.

Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children

The Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children is a clinical instrument that assesses children between the ages of 3 and 18. This newly revised test can be used to determine if there are learning disabilities, and it can also aid in identifying giftedness. The original standardized test was relatively new to the assessment field and was created to better address certain testing needs, such as learning disabilities for their cultural and verbal minorities. There are a variety of core subtests grouped by mental processing and achievement as well as supplementary subtests. A mental processing test consists of two subtests, sequential processing and simultaneous processing. It takes approximately 25-70 minutes to complete the test, and the time it takes is dependent upon the student's age and number of subtests given. Test scores may be expressed as percentiles and age or grade equivalents. The test has a norm score of 100 and a standard deviation of 15 (Kaufman Assessment Battery, n.d.).

Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test

The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test is a standardized test that assesses children at least two years of age. This test can be used for school placement, determining if there are learning disabilities, and for tracking intellectual development. Its 1986 revised edition was designed to be more representative of gender and race. The Stanford-Binet assesses verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, abstract/visual reasoning, and sort-term memory. These subjects are further divided into 15 subtests, which include vocab, comprehension, copying, number series, and various memory exercises. It takes approximately 45-90 minutes to complete the test, and the time it takes is dependent upon the student's age and number of subtests given. The resulting scores are calculated from how many items were answered, which then corresponds to a standard age score and age group. With a standard score of 100 and 16 as its standard deviation, the test is helpful in placing students in grade-levels and monitoring their development (Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, n.d.).

Wechsler Intelligence Test

Wechsler Intelligence Scales are a set of exams that are able to measure and compare children’s abilities and intellectual levels. There are three scales of Wechsler tests: the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales. These tests can be used for school placement, determining if there are learning disabilities, and designating children as gifted. Every Wechsler scale has six verbal and five performance subtests. It takes approximately 60-90 minutes to complete the test, which gives both verbal and performance IQ scores, which then comprise a full IQ score. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children is now in its third edition and includes two optional symbol search and mazes performance subtests. The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence is designed to be used with children age...

Kids who score higher on IQ tests will, on average, go on to do better in conventional measures of success in life: academic achievement, economic success, even greater health, and longevity. Is that because they are more intelligent? Not necessarily. New research concludes that IQ scores are partly a measure of how motivated a child is to do well on the test. And harnessing that motivation might be as important to later success as so-called native intelligence.

Researchers have long debated what IQ tests actually measure, and whether average differences in IQ scores--such as those between different ethnic groups--reflect differences in intelligence, social and economic factors, or both. The debate moved heavily into the public arena with the 1994 publication of The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, which suggested that the lower average IQ scores of some ethnic groups, such as African-Americans and Hispanics, were due in large part to genetic differences between them and Caucasian groups. That view has been challenged by many scientists. For example, in his 2009 book "Intelligence and How to Get It," Richard Nisbett, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, argued that differences in IQ scores largely disappear when researchers control for social and economic factors.

New work, led by Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, and reported online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explores the effect of motivation on how well people perform on IQ tests. While subjects taking such tests are usually instructed to try as hard as they can, previous research has shown that not everyone makes the maximum effort. A number of studies have found that subjects who are promised monetary rewards for doing well on IQ and other cognitive tests score significantly higher.

To further examine the role of motivation on both IQ test scores and the ability of IQ tests to predict life success, Duckworth and her team carried out two studies, both reported in today's paper. First, they conducted a "meta-analysis" that combined the results of 46 previous studies of the effect of monetary incentives on IQ scores, representing a total of more than 2000 test-taking subjects. The financial rewards ranged from less than $1 to $10 or more. The team calculated a statistical parameter called Hedge's g to indicate how big an effect the incentives had on IQ scores; g values of less than 0.2 are considered small, 0.5 are moderate, and 0.7 or higher are large.

Duckworth's team found that the average effect was 0.64 (which is equivalent to nearly 10 points on the IQ scale of 100), and remained higher than 0.5 even when three studies with unusually high g values were thrown out. Moreover, the effect of financial rewards on IQ scores increased dramatically the higher the reward: Thus rewards higher than $10 produced g values of more than 1.6 (roughly equivalent to more than 20 IQ points), whereas rewards of less than $1 were only one-tenth as effective.

In the second study, Duckworth and her colleagues analyzed data from an earlier study of more than 500 boys from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, whose IQs were tested in the late 1980s by a team from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. During the IQ test, the boys, whose average age was 12.5 years, were videotaped; then observers trained to detect signs of boredom and lack of motivation (such as yawning, laying their heads on the table, or looking often around the room) viewed the videos and assigned motivation scores.

Researchers followed the boys over time, and when the boys reached early adulthood (average age 24), 251 of them agreed to a series of interviews about their educational and job achievements (there were no differences in IQ or other key factors between those boys who participated and those who didn't.)

Duckworth's team analyzed the results of these earlier studies to see what they said about the relationship between motivation, IQ scores, and life success. By constructing a series of computer models of the data, the team found that higher motivation accounted for a significant amount of the differences in IQ scores and also in how well IQ predicted later success in life. For example, differences in motivation levels accounted for up to 84% of the differences between the boys in how many years of school they had completed or whether they had been able to find a job. On the other hand, motivation differences accounted for about only 25% of the differences in how well they had done in school as teenagers. According to the researchers, that suggests that native intelligence does still play an important role in both IQ scores and academic achievement.

Nevertheless, the Duckworth team concludes that IQ tests are measuring much more than just raw intelligence--they also measure how badly subjects want to succeed both on the test and later in life. Yet Duckworth and her colleagues caution that motivation isn't everything: The lower role for motivation in academic achievement, they write, suggests that "earning a high IQ score requires high intelligence in addition to high motivation."

The study has important social policy implications, Duckworth says. "I hope that social scientists, educators, and policy makers turn a more critical eye to any kind of measure, intelligence or otherwise," she says, adding that how hard people try "could be as important to success in life as intellectual ability itself." Duckworth suggests that admissions to programs for "gifted and talented" children should not be based on IQ scores alone, but also on "who wants to do the work."

Nisbett agrees that the study is "tremendously important in its implications." Motivation, along with self-discipline, "are crucial," Nisbett says. "A high IQ and a subway token will only get you into town."

Lex Borghans, an economist at the Maastricht University in the Netherlands, who has also studied the relationship between intelligence tests and economic success, says the new report shows that "both intelligence and personality matter." Even if native intelligence cannot be increased, Borghans says, "there might be other routes to success."

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