Sunday, April 09, 2006

Beyond IQ - Ability conception as an important school learning aptitude

As I've mused about on numerous occassions (click here, here, here, here, here, here), I'm a huge fan of the work of the late Richard Snow regarding the notion of "aptitude" versus "intelligence." I believe that Richard Snow was on the correct path regarding the widening of the variables individual difference psychologists need to examine to better understand a person's aptitude(s) for school learning.

My passion for Snow's concept of aptitude is based on a review of the empirical research and personal experience.....long story short.....if one believed that what is measured by intelligence tests is all one needs to know to understand a person's aptitude for school learning (and other domains -- occupations, vocational, etc.) I, based on my measured WAIS IQ as a psychology undergraduate student at Moorhead State University (now called Minnesota State University-Moorhead), should not have accomplished what I have in my field. Why have I enjoyed a reasonable degree of professional success and accomplishment above my IQ score?........largely because I've developed domain-specific expertise vis-a-vis 20+ years of sustained, passionate motivated practice in my profession, a drive due largely to variety of non-cognitive (conative) factors.

I provide the above as an introduction re: the current post, which is about one (of many) non-cognitive (conative) characteristics that contemporary social cognitive psychology has identified as important in understanding an individual's set of aptitude complexes. I stumbled across an article (burred on my hard drive) by Perkins et al (2000) that I would like to share. The reference (and link to the article) is below, followed by select tidbits regarding one of the three thinking dispostions they cover (a person's implicit view of intelligence, or, what is typically referred to as ability conception)

Perkins, D., Tishman, S., Ritchhart, R., Donis, K., & Andrade, A. (2000). Intelligence in the wild: A dispositional view of intellectual traits. Educational Psychology Review, 12(3), 269-293. (click here to view/download)

A few select comments/conclusions from the article (emphasis is mine):
  • "Anotherlook at the dispositional side of cognitive engagement comes from the work of Bandura and Dweck (1985) and Elliott and Dweck (1985). Their research findings suggested that a person's view of how intelligence works determines how persistently the person will invest in a challenging intellectual task (Dweck, 1986). Entity learners believe that intelligence is fixed and nonchanging. They are motivated by successful displays of ability and attaining favorable judgments. They may quit when problems prove difficult, assuming they are not smart enough. In contrast, incremental learners see intelligence as learnable. They are motivated to increase their knowledge and abilities approaching challenging situations with persistence a desire to learn (Bandura and Dweck, 1985; Elliottand Dweck. 1988, as cited in Dweck, 1986)" (p. 285)
  • "An incremental mindset has been shown to contribute to cognitive performance." (p. 285)
I will follow-up this post with additional information regarding ability conceptions later today, or early this week. Stay tunned.

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