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Education Administrators Associates
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Education Administrators Associates was initiated by Dr. John Brownridge, an educator and school principal with extensive knowledge and expertise in the field of Education, and experience in both North America and the United Kingdom. EAA's objective is to offer resource, assistance, and consultation to professional educators in the English-speaking world.

A variety of issues of interest and concern to educators will be presented and considered in this blog on a weekly basis. All educators, whether teachers, administrators or consultants, are invited to comment on the Contacts Page.

None of us can be experts in every field. Yet, as teachers we are expected to be knowledgeable on a whole range of topics, especially those that relate directly or indirectly to education. The parents of our students frequently have questions and concerns about curriculum, special programs, and new innovations they have heard about through news media. Our colleagues, friends and acquaintances may seek explanations and definitions. It is in our own interest to have a cursory knowledge of issues outside our areas of expertise, and to be capable of providing some insight into a variety of educational topics.

This weekly blog will explore many educational topics. Please check in on a regular basis, and do feel free to submit your comments and questions on the Contacts Page. As teachers, we have a wealth of experience to share.

John Brownridge

This Week

The History and Function of the General Intelligence Factor

Psychologists have long been interested in establishing a reliable way of quantifying intelligence but it was only with the emergence of psychometrics in the early 1900s that any real progress was made. The concept of a general intelligence factor, referred to as “g”, resulted from the observation of test results from a wide range of subject areas. Psychometricians began to develop a theory of g that might explain its biological nature and determine its degree of stability and relevance to real-world tasks. As a psychological construct, g remains a controversial concept though in more recent times it has gained some respectability and utility.

Early psychometricians, like Charles Spearman, were intrigued by the fact that grades obtained by school children across a wide range of unrelated subjects were positively correlated. Spearman proposed that this correlation could be accounted for by the influence of a dominant factor which he identified as general intelligence or g. A model was developed to explain all variations in intelligence test scores. Essentially, this first model assumed that performance on intelligence tests was governed by two fundamental factors – inherent individual ability or aptitude and g.

Spearman’s model, although instrumental in the development cognitive quantification, was soon seen as too simplistic as it failed to take into account a number of other relevant factors influencing test performance. Spatial visualization, for example, is not directly related to g but where it is well developed through experience it enhances the ability to perform well in a testing situation. The same can be claimed for such things as memory and verbal ability.

The fundamental claims of Spearman’s model were upheld but the model itself was expanded to include a comprehensive component of factor analysis. Despite change and development, however, the concept of g has been maintained and modern psychometricians do not doubt its central role in intelligence test performance. Most professionals accept that the most effective model builds on a hierarchy of group factors while g continues to play the most dominant role. This conviction has been firmly rooted by evidence obtained in the accumulation of copious amounts of cognitive testing data as well as by  continual improvements in analytical techniques.

Psychometricians explain the relationship between g and the so-called group factors by comparing them to the measurements of physical objects. A single dimension is not usually sufficient to give an accurate depiction of size. The human body provides a good example of this. Many correlated measurements such as those needed by a tailor can be used to achieve an overall quantification of physical size. In a similar way, a useful quantification of intelligence can be achieved by various measures of cognitive ability.

Because of the dominance of the g factor in measuring cognitive ability, the creators of IQ tests make them as g loaded as possible. This is not surprising as the utility and validity of such tests is judged by their ability to measure g, but critics complain that when IQ tests are constructed in this way, they reduce the influence of group factors which collectively should be considered equally important. The criticism is unfounded, however, as all testers recognize that g itself is constructed of a variety of cognitive components and in testing g, these group factors are being tested as well.

John Brownridge

Next Week

Societal Concerns About Declining Standards in Education