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Intelligence and Ability: Debates, Challenges and Developments

Explore what intelligence is, how it relates to ability and has been measured, and why people may be getting 'smarter'.

Intelligence and Ability: Debates, Challenges and Developments
  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    10 hours

This course will explore how intelligence has been defined and assessed by psychologists such as Sternberg, Gardner and Spearman.

You will be introduced to the role that statistical techniques have played in developing our understanding of what intelligence is and the challenges that have been directed towards intelligence research.

The Flynn Effect, the finding that average intelligence scores have steadily increased, will be considered and possible explanations provided.

Finally, the role that intelligence and ability testing can play in organisational settings will also be considered.

What topics will you cover?

• Definitions of intelligence, unintelligence, ability and giftedness

• The factor analytic approach to intelligence

• Exploring the ‘g’ factor of intelligence

• Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences

• Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence

• The Flynn Effect – are people getting ‘smarter’?

• Criticisms of intelligence research

• Areas in which organisations can use intelligence and ability tests.

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the various definitions of intelligence.
  • Contrast tests of intelligence with tests of cognitive ability.
  • Summarise the relationship between intelligence scores and the normal distribution.
  • Appraise the contributions of key theorists to psychology’s understanding of intelligence.
  • Examine possible explanations for the Flynn Effect.
  • Define what is meant by the ‘g’ factor of intelligence.
  • Compare and contrast the factor analytic approach of intelligence with Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences.
  • Demonstrate examples of how intelligence and ability tests might be used in organisational settings.
  • Assess the usefulness of IQ scoring

Who is the course for?

This course is for individuals who would like to explore what intelligence is and how it relates to ability, how it has been measured and why people may be getting ‘smarter’.

Please note that the staff described in the ‘Who will you learn with?’ section below may be subject to change.

Who will you learn with?

Andre Soares PhD, MSc, BSc, FHEA, CPsychol – assistant professor in business and occupational psychology at Coventry University

Who developed the course?

Coventry University

Coventry secured gold in the UK Government’s 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and is University of the Year for Student Experience in The Times & The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019.

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  • Location


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