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An Analytical Study on

Assessing Human
Competencies Based on

Presentation by
KSR College of Technology

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1/1/2006 Conference at Indian Institute of
Objectives of study

To understand the history of
psychological testing
Outline important contributions towards
psychological testing
Understand basics of brain functioning
and study latest finding on plasticity of
Understand different definitions of
intelligence and examine definition of
intelligence by Howard Gardner.
Summarize out thoughts on intelligence
and testing .
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Questions that occur to us
• What is intelligence? How do we define?
• When did we start the methodology of
testing intelligence and what is the time
line ?
• Is there any relevance to latest finding
on brain and its functions especially
relating to plasticity of brain to
measurement of intelligence?
• What is the role of culture in developing

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Early Antecedents
It is common to think tests are recent developments
and mostly European and American origin.
Historians have obtained evidence that Chinese had a
relatively sophisticated civil service testing programme
more than 4,000 years ago. (Dubois,1966,1970).
By the time of the Han dynasty(206BC to AD 220),the
use of test batteries (two or more tests used in
Conjunction )were common. They used to test topics
such as civil law, military affairs, agriculture, revenue
and geography.
The western world most likely learnt the testing
through British Missionaries and diplomats and
encouraged East India Company to copy the Chinese
system in 1982 to select employees for overseas duty.
British Government adopted a system for testing for
civil service. The French and German governments
followed. America established the American Civil
Service Commission and conducted competitive
examinations for certain government jobs.
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Why intelligence Testing?

What are the foundations for testing
intelligence of Human beings?
Five major foundations can be discerned.
Let us examine them

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Foundations for Intelligence Testing
Individual differences-Darwin’s
The most basic concept underlying psychological
and educational testing pertains to individual
Tests are designed to measure these individual
differences in ability and personality among
Given that individual members of species differ,
some possess characteristics that are more
adoptive or successful in a given environment.
Darwin believed that most adoptive survived at
he expense of those less fit, and survivors then
pass their characteristics on to the next
generation. His argument was the present life has
evolved to its present complex and intelligent
levels based in the concept of survival of the
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Galton’s role
(who is influenced by Darwin’s
Given the concept of survival of the fittest and
individual differences, Galton(1883) set out to
show that some humans possessed,
characteristics that made them more fit than
other humans.
His idea of individual differences exists in human
sensory and motor functioning, such as reaction
time, visual acuity, and physical strength. Galton
initiated knowledge for search into human
differences which is one of the most important
domain of scientific psychology.
Galton work was extended by James Mc Keen
Cattell, coined the term “mental test” for the first
time. He, stimulated the forces that ultimately led
to the development of modern tests.
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Experimental Psychology-
The German foundation
The second foundation is laid by
attempts to study the human
consciousness through scientific methods
mostly mathematical models, in
particular that of J.F. Herbart, who used
these models as the basis for educational
theories in the 19th Century educational
practices. E.H.Weber attempted to
demonstrate the existence of
psychological threshold, the minimum
amount of stimulus energy necessary to
activate the sensory system. We know
that as the famous Weber's Law
▲I= C*I
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Response to important societal
The French Role
One such need of society to classify and
identify the mentally and emotionally
handicapped. The important break
through came in the 20th Century, when
French Minister of Public Instruction
appointed a commission to study ways of
identifying intellectually subnormal
individuals in order to provide them with
appropriate Educational experience. It
was Alfred Binet developed major general
intelligence test. The first test was
known as Binet-Simon Test came into
existence in the year 1905.
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Selection for Employees for Civil
Services and For Army specially
during World Wars I and II
The need for testing for civil services and
for government jobs and for overseas
The need for selection for Army.

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These are five foundations for
intelligence testing
• Individual differences- Based on theory
of Darwin, Galton and Cattell.
• Measurement of individual differences
and unlocking human consciousness
based on scientific methods by German
Psychologists Herbart, Weber, Fechner
and Wundt.
• Societal need to identify the mentally
and emotionally handicapped and train
• Need for selection for civil services
• Need for selection for Army.
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Intelligence – Earliest views
Joseph Gall has
observed relationship
between certain
mental characteristics
of his schoolmates
and shapes of their
heads. He developed a
method phrenology,
to divine the
personality and
development of
mental and moral
faculties based on
external shape of the
skull. The bumps and
depressions related to
the thirty seven
faculties could be
measured and
diagnosed. However,
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Contribution of Binet
He thought that intelligence expressed itself
through the judgmental, attentional and
reasoning faculties of an individual.
Trail and Error and Hypothesis testing was used
by him.
He was guided by two major concepts, age
differentiation and general mental ability age
Age differentiation refers to the fact that older
children can be differentiated or from younger
children by their greater capabilities.
He searched for tasks that can be completed by
67%-75% of the older children and by small
percentage of young children.
Using these assembled tasks, he was able to
estimate the mental
1/1/2006 ability
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Contribution of Binet

He was guided in the selection of tasks by his
decision to to measure only the total product
of the various separate and distinct elements
of intelligence that is
General Mental Ability
He freed himself from the burden of
identifying each element of intelligence.
The value of any particular task is judged
based on correlation with other general
mental ability and task with lesser
correlation are removed.

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Spearman’s Two Factor Theory

General Mental Ability (G)

S1(Numerical reasoning) S2(Vocabulary)
S3(Mechanical skill)
Spearman’s Model is intelligence has a general
factor “g” and large number of specific factors
The performance of any intellectual task requires
some combination of “g” and specific factor as
“s”, which is specific to a task. If we know that
one task is highly saturated with ‘g’ then we can
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predict his performance in the task.
Louis Thrustone Multiple Factor
people and their attempts to reach their goals
is needed to understand intelligence.
He rejected behaviorist stimulus-response
He defined intelligence as “ the ability to
inhibit instinctive responses while those
responses are still in loosely organized
form and to use abstraction to redefine
the instinctive behaviour in light of
imagined consequences”. His theory was
intelligence is made up of seven primary
mental abilities.
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Seven Factors

Verbal comprehension
Word fluency
Number facility
Spatial visualization
Associative memory
Perceptual speed

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Raymond Cattle and John Horn

Human intellectual competence is divided
along three dimensions
Fluid intelligence is the ability to develop
techniques for solving problems that are
new and unusual from the point of view
of problem solver.
Crystallized intelligence is the ability to
bring previously acquired often culturally
defined, problem solving methods to bear
on the current problem.
Visual Spatial reasoning is the ability to
use visual images and visual
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relationships for
1/1/2006 problem solving.
definitions of Intelligence
The tendency to take and maintain a definite direction; the
capacity to make adaptations for the purpose of attaining a
desired end; and the power of auto criticism- Alfred Binet
The ability to inhibit instinctive responses while those
responses are still in loosely organized form and to use
abstraction to redefine the instinctive behaviour in light of
imagined consequences-Louis Thrustone
It is adjustment or adaptation of the individual to his total
environment. The ability to learn and the ability to carry on
abstract thinking .-Freeman
Fluid intelligence is the ability to develop techniques for solving
problems that are new and unusual from the point of view of problem
solver. Crystallized intelligence is the ability to bring previously
acquired often culturally defined, problem solving methods to bear on
the current problem. Visual Spatial reasoning is the ability to use
visual images and visual relationships for problem solving.- Raymond

The ability to plan and structure one’s behaviour with an end
in view-J.P.Das

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Investigators of human intelligence
work with two styles of Explanation

Reductionist View Holistic View
It assumes that brain like machine
Holists view brain as a coherent
Is being merely an assemblage ofWhole, a general framework of
parts, thus can be explained Connections that shapes the
in terms of many parts. Mental patterns.

Behaviorists treated the brainGestalt Psychologists treated brain
as a giant collection of reflexes.
thinks in wholes before extracting
They considered thought as parts.
a Thus brain seizes on a genera
knee-jerk sequence of thought, forming a broad sense
associative links. If we are shown
of which direction to head, before
red color reflexively we thinkdoing
of fire
more work to bring this though
Engines or traffic signals. to specific focus.

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Cognitive Psychology View

Thinking is a process of creating mental representation
of the current problem, retrieving information that
appears relevant and manipulating the representation
in order to obtain an answer. The problem, solution and
the methods are used are stored for later reference.
The Most important point is creation of
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The Views
Reductionist Holistic
Psychometric View A process not easily
A collection of abilities amenable to figures.
Amenable to reduction in Pluralization and
numbers Hierarchization
Contextualization: If IQ
levels are same can we
compare a man from 16th
Century, 18th Century
and 21st Century? The
intelligence has be
understood in the
context of opportunities
offered by the culture
and their practices.
Distribution is extended
view of context. It
relates to the person and
the tools he has such as
computer, notebooks,
network of associates
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Conference etc.

Consciousness is the ability to take a
selective view of the world.
In other words it is to be oriented and to
be pregnant with goals and
expectations. How the brain works is,
How it orientates itself to each passing
The working is complex, but
straightforward, such that we can see
exactly the same principles at work in
rudimentary life
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Brain facts
The average weight of
brain is 1.4 Kilograms
Pinkish fudge color
100 billion neurons of
individual cells
Each of them can make
from thousands of
synaptic connections
Synapse is a junction
between two neurons-
they are not random,
each one of the
connection has its own
history and purpose such
as thoughts,
impressions, urges,
conflicts, worries,
curiosities and
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It is the lifelong ability of the brain to
reorganize neural pathways based on
new experiences. It is the ability of brain
to change with learning is what is known
as neuroplasticity.
There are four types of Plasticity as we
know to day.

Developmental Plasticity
Activity Dependent Plasticity
Plasticity of Learning and Memory
Injury Induced Plasticity
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Processes involved in Brain
1. Neurogenesis is the formation of
Neurons in the brain
2. Neural migration is the movement of
neurons to different areas of brain.
3. Myelination, the covering of neuron axon
with a fatty sheath, to conduct signals
more efficiently and protect the axon.
4. Synaptogenesis is the formation of
synapses, or more connectivity
5. Synaptic Pruning is selective elimination
of synapses.
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The activities that are
performed frequently
with better attention
get strengthened. In
the process neurons
are annexed by brain
for further
If we keep brain
inactive we loose it !
We need to constantly
use it in order to have
a healthy brain

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Human Competencies and Prized
End States
Let us consider the prized end states
(in different cultures across time
and geography) such as hunters,
priests, kings, warriors, artists,
writers, athletes , poets, painters,
military strategists or scientists.
1)How did they acquire these states?
What kind of intelligence is
common factor among all these
prized end states.
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Some questions
1) On what competencies the
psychometric approach rely on?
Psychometric approach relies on language,
mathematical and logical competencies,
mostly measured through paper and
pencil tests. The output of the tests is
data that ranks the subjects (persons
who undergo the tests) as best to least.
2) If we think of the prized end states that
are rewarded by different cultures and
include human cognition in our
discussion, is it right to limit our
competencies as mentioned or do we
have to include more competencies that
1/1/2006 may not be amenable to paper and
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Definition of Intelligence
Howard Gardner
“an Intelligence is the ability to solve
problems, or to create products, that are
valued within one or more cultural
If you compare Howard Gardner’s
definition with that of other definitions it
does not talk about the sources or means
of measurement.
It gives emphasis to ability to solve
problems or create products that are
valued that is Competencies relevant in
cultural settings.
It does not talk about one single
intelligence but
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Criteria to be called as
Potential isolation by brain damage
The existence of idiot savants, prodigies
and other exceptional individuals.
Identifiable core operations or set of
A distinctive developmental history
An evolutionary history
Support from experimental psychological
Support from psychometric findings
Susceptibility to encoding in symbol
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Multiple Intelligences
Linguistic intelligence involves the ability to learn
languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish
certain goals. This intelligence includes the ability to
effectively use language to express oneself rhetorically or
poetically; and language as a means to remember
Logical-mathematical intelligence consists of the capacity
to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical
operations, and investigate issues scientifically. It entails the
ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think
logically. This intelligence is most often associated with
scientific and mathematical thinking.
Musical intelligence involves skill in the performance,
composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. It
encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical
pitches, tones, and rhythms.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails the potential of
using one's whole body or parts of the body to solve problems.
It is the ability to useThird
mental abilities to coordinate bodily
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Multiple Intelligences
Spatial intelligence involves the potential to
recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more
confined areas. 
Interpersonal intelligence is concerned with the
capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and
desires of other people. It allows people to work
effectively with others.
Intrapersonal intelligence entails the capacity to
understand oneself, to appreciate one's feelings, fears
and motivations. It involves having an effective working
model of ourselves, and to be able to use such
information to regulate our lives.
Naturalist intelligence enables human beings to
recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of
the environment. It 'combines a description of the core
ability with a characterization of the role that many
cultures value.
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After twenty two years of understanding and
practicing theory of Multiple Intelligences the
need for nurturing intelligences found place in
most of the school in USA and Europe.
The list of intelligences is not complete some
more candidates for intelligence are digital
intelligence and sexual intelligence according to
Howard Gardner.
Intelligence measurement is only one of the task
and not the end. It is upto us to identify
appropriate tools to enhance the utilization of
brain and its functions to have a fulfilling
existence both at school and workplace.

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1) Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple intelligences. New York:
2)Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York:
Bantam Books
3) Phrenology, the History of Brain Localization" By:
Renate M.E. Sabatini, PhD In: Brain & Mind, March 1997
4) American Scientist online, The Role of Intelligence in
Modern Society, by Earl Hunt. This article originally
appeared in the July-August 1995 issue of American
5) Gardner, H. (1983) Frames of Mind, London; Fontana
8) Multiple Intelligences after Twenty Years, Paper
presented at the American Educational Research
Association, Chicago, Illinois, April 21, 2003
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Thank you very much

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