Adult Intelligence – IELTS Academic Reading Passage

Over 90 years ago, Binet and Simon delineated two different methods of assessing intelligence. These were the psychological method (which concentrates mostly on intellectual processes, such as memory and abstract reasoning) and the pedagogical method (which concentrates on assessing what an individual knows). The main concern of Binet and Simon was to predict elementary school performance independently from the social and economic background of the individual student. As a result, they settled on the psychological method, and they spawned an intelligence assessment paradigm, which has been substantially unchanged from their original tests.

With few exceptions, the development of adult intelligence assessment instruments proceeded along the same lines of the Binet-Simon tests. Nevertheless, the difficulty of items was increased for older examinees. Thus, extant adult intelligence tests were created as little more than upward extensions of the original Binet-Simon scales. The Binet-Simon tests are quite effective in predicting school success in both primary and secondary educational environments. However, they have been found to be much less predictive of success in post-secondary academic and occupational domains. Such a discrepancy provokes fundamental questions about intelligence. One highly debated question asks whether college success is actually dependent on currently used forms of measured intelligence, or if present measures of intelligence are inadequately sampling the wider domain of adult intellect. One possible answer to this question lies in questioning the preference of the psychological method over the pedagogical method for assessing adult intellect. Recent research across the fields of education, cognitive science, and adult development suggests that much of adult intellect is indeed not adequately sampled by extant intelligence measures and might be better assessed through the pedagogical method (Ackerman, 1996; Gregory, 1994).

Several lines of research have also converged on a redefinition of adult intellect that places a greater emphasis on content (knowledge) over process. Substantial strides have been made in delineating knowledge aspects of intellectual performance which are divergent from traditional measures of intelligence (e.g., Wagner, 1987) and in demonstrating that adult performance is greatly influenced by prior topic and domain knowledge (e.g., Alexander et al., 1994). Even some older testing literature seems to indicate that the knowledge measured by the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) is a comparable or better indicator of future graduate school success and post-graduate performance than traditional aptitude measures (Willingham, 1974).

Knowledge and Intelligence
When an adult is presented with a completely novel problem (e.g., memorizing a random set of numbers or letters), the basic intellectual processes are typically implicated in predicting which individuals will be successful in solving problems. The dilemma for adult intellectual assessment is that the adult is rarely presented with a completely novel problem in the real world of academic or occupational endeavors. Rather, the problems that an adult is asked to solve almost inevitably draw greatly on his/her accumulated knowledge and skills—one does not build a house by only memorizing physics formulae. For an adult, intellect is better conceptualized by the tasks that the person can accomplish and the skills that he/she has developed rather than the number of digits that can be stored in working memory or the number of syllogistic reasoning items that can be correctly evaluated. Thus, the content of the intellect is at least as important as the processes of intellect in determining an adult’s real-world problem-solving efficacy.

From the artificial intelligence field, researchers have discarded the idea of a useful general problem solver in favor of knowledge-based expert systems. This is because no amount of processing power can achieve real-world problem-solving proficiency without an extensive set of domain-relevant knowledge structures. Gregory (1994) describes the difference between such concepts as “potential intelligence” (knowledge) and “kinetic intelligence” (process). Similarly, Schank and Birnbaum (1994) say that “what makes someone intelligent is what he [/she] knows.”

One line of relevant educational research is from the examination of expert- novice differences which indicates that the typical expert is found to mainly differ from the novice in terms of experience and the knowledge structures that are developed through that experience rather than in terms of intellectual processes (e.g., Glaser, 1991). Additional research from developmental and gerontological perspectives has also shown that various aspects of adult intellectual functioning are greatly determined by knowledge structures and less influenced by the kinds of process measures, which have been shown to decline with age over adult development (e.g., Schooler, 1987; Willis & Tosti-Vasey, 1990).

Shifting Paradigms
By bringing together a variety of sources of research evidence, it is clear that our current methods of assessing adult intellect are insufficient. When we are confronted with situations in which the intellectual performance of adults must be predicted (e.g., continuing education or adult learning programs), we must begin to take account of what they know in addition to the traditional assessment of intellectual processes. Because adults are quite diverse in their knowledge structures (e.g., a physicist may know many different things than a carpenter), the challenge for educational assessment researchers in the future will be to develop batteries of tests that can be used to assess different sources of intellectual knowledge for different individuals. When adult knowledge structures are broadly examined with tests such as the Advanced Placement [AP] -and College Level Exam Program [CLEP], it may be possible to improve such things as the prediction of adult performance in specific educational endeavors, the placement of individuals, and adult educational counseling.

Questions 28-34
Complete the sentences below about the reading passage. Choose your answers from the options given below, and write them in boxes 28-34 on your Answer Sheet. There are more choices than sentences so you will not use them all.

A tests                                                              B psychological issues                     C new

D potential for achievement in school             E knowledge-based                         F knowledge

G Binet and Simon                                            H thought processes                      I Ackerman and Gregory  social class                                                      K recent research                            L future job performance

M problem solving

The psychological method of intelligence assessment measures (28)………………………..
Binet and Simon wanted to develop an assessment method that was not influenced by the child’s (29)……………………
The Binet-Simon tests have been successfully used to predict (30)………………….
The Binet-Simon tests are not good predictors of (31)…………………….
According to (32)………………………, the pedagogical method is the best way to assess adult intelligence.
The pedagogical method is a better measure of adult intelligence because most problems that adults encounter in real life are not completely (33)…………………………..
In the area of artificial intelligence, (34)…………………….. systems are preferred.

Questions 35-39
Do the following statements agree with the information in Reading Passage 3? In boxes 35-39 on your Answer Sheet, write

TRUE                       if the statement is true according to the passage.
FALSE                     if the statement contradicts the passage.
NOT GIVEN         if there is no information about this in the passage.

35 The Binet-Simon tests have not changed significantly over the years.
36 Success in elementary school is a predictor of success in college.
37 Research suggests that experts generally have more developed intellectual processes than novices.
38 Knowledge structures in adults decrease with age.
39 Better methods of measuring adult intelligence need to be developed.

Question 40
Choose the correct letter, A-C, and write it in box 40 on your Answer Sheet.

40 The Advanced Placement and College Level Exam Program tests measure
A thought processes
B job skills
C knowledge