Sunday, May 6, 2012

Understanding IQ

In the New York Times today, there is an article on the question of whether or not IQ came be improved.

To understand this issue, it is important to also understand what is involved in IQ testing. The standard IQ test has ten subtests which generate four composite scores: verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory and processing speed. In the past, verbal comprehension and working memory were considered to comprise one's verbal IQ. Perceptual reasoning and processing speed comprised one's performance IQ. In the most recent version of the IQ test, the thinking has changed leading us to report all four of these areas and to create a new combination, general ability, stemming from verbal comprehension and perceptual reasoning. All four sections come together for what we call full scale IQ.

These concepts may seem quite technical, but they are actually extremely important in understanding how people function, where IQ and functioning can be enhanced, and how that relates to homework, the topic of my work and my blog.

Some aspects of IQ can be enhanced. Some may not be amenable to change. In all cases, one's functioning and success, which is what we're most concerned about anyway, can be enhanced by considering where and how improvements can occur.

In my book, I place considerable emphasis on the issues of working memory and processing speed as factors that give children difficulties completing their homework assignments and not that the differences between scores on these scales and scores on the general ability scale scores are central to why some children are responded to erroneously and dangerously with the phrase, "You're so bright, you would do so well if you just tried harder." They certainly are bright and appear bright, as reflected in their general ability scale scores. Trying harder won't make the difference when it comes to homework unless we can do something about those other two areas of functioning.

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