Conflicting definitions of intelligence

For decades, scientists have investigated intelligent and less intelligent behaviour. Many definitions of intelligence, sometimes even contradicting each other, have emerged as a result.

Despite the differing views among scientists, we do know that intelligence affects life outcomes. In education, several programmes have aimed at increasing intelligence among students with disappointing results.

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Can we teach intelligence?

theconversation.com

The fundamental question is if one can teach intelligence. If we view intelligence as using some basic cognitive abilities for efficient information processing, it is probably impossible.

Other definitions of intelligence include problem-solving and decision-making, planning, strategic exploration, testing hypothesis and correcting them.

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The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has given high priority to a broadened understanding of intelligence and found that problem-solving skills broader than the traditional conception of intelligence are markedly different from the traditional proficiency in maths, science and reading.

Looking at the broader implications of this on the existing education systems, teaching and instruction should focus more on cognitive flexibility, problem-solving and aspects of intelligence that are amenable to change.

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  • Teaching students strategies to increase self-monitoring and evaluation when problem-solving.
  • Using teaching methods that help with a deeper understanding of the structure that underpins new problems.

The methods boil down to providing students with as many active problem-solving learning opportunities as possible.

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