Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The big picture ecological systems perspective of intelligence (and IQ tests): Is COVID disrupting and rearranging the hierarchy of ecological system influences on children's learning?

Understanding intelligence testing in the context of Bronfrenbrenner's ecological systems model--is COVID seriously damaging, rearranging, decoupling, etc. the major proximal and distal sources of influence on a child's learning, resulting in a need to look closer at non-cognitive (conative) variables...beyond IQ?

This morning I revisited one of my favorite videos (of those I have posted), first posted in 2015, where I explained how intelligence testing needed to be understood in the context of distal and proximal influences in a child's environment.  I believe that a "big picture" understanding of the wide range of variables that influence school learning requires a "humbling" of the status of intelligence testing, a field where I have spent the majority of my professional career.  After one finishes the video, think about the "big picture" ecological systems model that is described. IMHO, COVID may be seriously impacting that the primary distal and proximal variables that influence (both positively and negatively) school learning (national educational policy; school systems and local community sources of formal and informal support; individual schools; the lack of in class learning; parents working from home or being unemployed), as well as peer interactions in a child's neighborhood (due to social distancing).  Stare at the final big picture figure and reflect on how COVID is disrupting all the primary sets of variables that influence school learning.  The range of disrupted causal influences is staggering. 

The end result, for many children, is learning via distance learning methods, often with the aid of parents who are not educators.  Although intelligence is very important, and may be more important as children must use their abilities to learn more independently, it strikes me that at this point in our countries (global) current crises, it may be the non-cognitive variables that might need better understanding and enhancement.  That is, the conative (aka., noncognitive) "beyond IQ" variables of motivation and self-regulated learning (aka., a part of volition) may be more important today than ever.  To engage in independent, loosely (dis)organized instruction, students who have strong motivation and independent self-regulation learning strategies may have a distinct advantage--those who do not, may be at a serious disadvantage.  Jack Carroll's seminal model of school learning, that spawned decades of research on models of school learning, reminds us, in elegant terms, that aside from key student individual difference variables, the quantity (opportunity for instruction) and quality of instruction are key variables in school learning.  Both of these are being seriously impacted due to COVID.

COVID appears to be a high level all encompassing distal variable (wielding impact at the global, national, community, and school system levels) that is rearranging the the relative importance of  variables in school learning.  Students now, and in the future, may need more assistance in acquiring critical non-cognitive motivational dispositions and independent self-regulated learning strategies in order to maximize what they can from their repertoire of cognitive abilities in order to continue and maintain academic growth.  If may be necessary to revise the degree of influence of distal and proximal school learning influence variables as per Bronfrenbreener's ecological systems model.

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