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Is IQTesting Obsolete?

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 8 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Iq Testing Intelligence Smarts Tests

For determining intelligence, IQ testing has been a mainstay in society for decades. In recent years, however, some experts have argued that it is – or at least should be – obsolete. They feel it unfairly labels some young people as ‘smart’ or ‘stupid’ and can do more harm than good.

Different Kinds of Intelligence

This approach to IQ has led to our development and recognition of other kinds of intelligence such as musical intelligence. Yet IQ testing does still occur and many believe it should be removed entirely from our educational and other systems of assessment.

How IQ Testing Can Harm

Traditional IQ measuring takes into account more academic kinds of learning such as mathematics and English. Not all children have full access to school learning or the support at home and in the community to succeed.

How Results Damage Children

Such children may develop other kinds of smarts – or even what is known as street smarts – but they will score poorly on IQ tests. The disadvantage here is that if a child believes they have done poorly, they may put in less effort to do well. Instead, the IQ test may lead to consistent underachievement.

It also means parents may be disappointed and wondering where they went wrong. This kind of categorising and labelling can harm children and lead to a future of underachievement.

Is Intelligence Fixed or Changing?

Intelligence is not something static. Instead, it changes due to factors such as culture, environment and your own cognitive abilities. One school of thought is that instead of the results-oriented style of IQ testing, we should be looking at how a person actually solves a problem. Some experts think this is a better representation than the conclusion – and therefore scoring – itself.

Intelligence Processing

Rather than measuring a child’s intelligence using traditional IQ testing, there are more inclusive ways to look at learning. For instance, what a child actually puts into the process of learning to work out a problem is more important – at least according to some experts.

Studies on IQ Testing

Studies do still show that there is value to IQ testing. It is thought to be a predictor of school achievement and occupational status in adults. But others argue that the issues above relating to how a child is labelled could be contributing to the effect of IQ during the school years and later in life.

The Future of IQ Testing

There are already many other forms of cognitive testing available today. Yet traditional IQ testing is still used quite widely and it is not likely to disappear anytime soon.

What is important is that children are not unfairly labelled, particularly when you consider the disadvantages such as poverty that can prevent a child from scoring well on an IQ test. Where IQ tests are used, they should only be one part of the full picture.

Other tests that look at how a child works through a problem and how they score on many other kinds of intelligence that aren’t academic are similarly important. This way, intelligence is a broader measurement that helps us to offer the right encouragement and support to children.

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