Testing for Intelligence?

Howard Gardner’s “multiple intelligence” consist of verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematics, musical, visual-spatial, body-kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal. In the article Multiple Intelligences for young learners, Howell states that “As teachers, it is our responsibility to learn about these different learning styles so that we can appeal to every type of learner in our classrooms”(2004). In the school systems the main two intelligences that are focused on more than the rest are verbal and mathematical skills. According to Howell “A person who is weak in both of these will be more likely to do poorly in school”(Howell, 2004). I believe that in order to get an understanding of the “whole” child, each skill should be assessed in some way or another. Children cannot sit still long and they need that movement and motion. Through the body-kinesthetic skill, if we allow them to stand up or move around while engaged in activities or lessons then they might excel in that area and movement allows them to process the information. When it comes to the musically inclined learners, “musical and rhythmic activities should be used extensively with young learners, as their musical-rhythmic intelligence helps them to learn more easily and affords a high rate of retention” (Howell, 2004). Children who are visual learners need to see things and they might learn better if they are sitting in front of the class so that they can see the teacher. Allowing them to see what they are learning will help them do better in class. An intrapersonal learner is one who sits alone and keeps to themselves. They know how to control their emotions and how they feel. According to Howell, “They enjoy thinking and meditating on ideas. Activities that will stimulate this type of intelligence include drawing pictures to show meaning”(2004). The last intelligence learner is the interpersonal.  Children who are interpersonal intelligence learners are ones who work well with others in groups and they understand and have a sense of how others feels and are motivated. “Activities such as reporting, interviewing, teaching, and choreographing are things that the interpersonal learner will excel in” (Howell, 2004). As teachers we should focus on all the different types of intellectual learners to gain better insight on how the children learn in the class. No one test such as the standardized paper and pencil test will ever measure the amount of knowledge that a child has stored in their brain.

The Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale
Assessments in Scotland

In Scotland children are assessed at the ages 7, 9, and 11. Leon, Lawlor, Clark, Batty, and Macintyre (2008) showed the different tests that were administered to the different age groups as shown:

The tests used at age 7 were the Moray House Picture Intelligence test numbers 1 or 2. These were 100 and 98 item tests respectively where children were asked to variously identify which one of a series of pictures did not belong, were absurd, were reflections (reversed similarities) or analogous to a reference picture, or to put them in sequence or to complete sequences. To our knowledge these tests have not been validated directly against any standard measure of intelligence such as WAIS or WISC. At age 9, the Schonell and Adams Essential Intelligence tests form A or B were used. The tests at age 11 included a battery of Moray House tests: two ability tests (verbal reasoning 1 and 2) and two attainment tests (Arithmetic, English). All intelligence tests were taken within 6 months of the child’s 7th, 9th and 11th birthday respectively. Tests were age standardised, for Scotland as a whole, with means of 100 and standard deviations of 15.

Example of Moray House Test

 Words of Thought

Something that I would leave for my colleagues is that “knowing about learning styles and multiple intelligence is helpful for everyone, especially for teachers of young learners with short attention spans”(Howell, 2004). Get to know your children before hand to be able to teach them and plan your curriculum accordingly. A child may be very smart and intelligent but may also experience test anxiety and could clam up at the thought of a test. Let us as educators come up with more calming and smooth ways to assess children’s capabilities and abilities without using the word “test.”


Howell, C. (2004). Developing Multiple Intelligences in Young Learners. Retrieved June 12, 2015, from http://www.davidenglishhouse.com/en/resources/snakespdfs/spring2004/sections/spring2004vyl.pdf

Leon, D., Lawlor, D., Clark, H., Batty, G., & Macintyre, S. (2008). The association of childhood intelligence with mortality risk from adolescence to middle age: Findings from the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s cohort study. Intelligence, 37(6), 520-528.


4 thoughts on “Testing for Intelligence?

  1. Hi Dionna, I always enjoy reading your blog because its very informative. I agree with you as educators it is important for us to come up with a new scenario to encourage a student to feel confident in test taking. Reflecting back to my child hood I use to freeze up when it came to taking test because I thought I wouldn’t pass. My mother would instill in me don’t think of it as a test but as a classroom assignment. Remembering my mother words made me feel relaxed and motivated to passing the test.
    Thanks, Maranda


  2. Dionna,
    You are correct when you mentioned that some children have test anxiety. For the longest, I didn’t do well taking standardized tests. I totally agree that we need to find a method of assessment and hopefully educators will do some research to find the best method.


  3. I really enjoyed your post and I liked reading about assessments in Scotland. I also wonder about our focus on testing for intelligence. It seems as if it is customary everywhere to test to see what a child knows or what they have learned. These assessments are usually thought of as an indicator of kindergarten readiness. However, I read a lot about how success in Kindergarten depends on getting along with others, being able to develop relationships, being able to be empathetic, etc. Do you feel that intelligence testing covers these essential elements of kindergarten readiness? I do not know a single adult in my life that has failed to learn their colors or their 1,2,3s, or A, B, Cs. I do know several, though, that have gone through life without ever learning empathy, how to treat others, how to develop relationships, etc.


  4. Dionna, I love your post! It’s interesting to see that in Scotland they test several times, to see where the children are developmentally. I almost wish we would do it here in United States, but at the same time no, because testing never provides the best results. Children may tense up, or not be familiar with a subject, which doesn’t reflect well. We as educators need to figure out based on the child, what’s the best way to test.


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