science | August 13, 2013

How IQ Tests Can Measure Creativity: Science Speaker Scott Barry Kaufman

"When I was a little tyke," science speaker Scott Barry Kaufman writes in Scientific American, "my school psychologist told my parents that I was one of the most creative test takers he’d ever seen, but that it was a darn shame he couldn’t give me any points for being so creative on the IQ test." Why is that the case? Why, he wonders, do we place such an emphasis on measuring intelligence—yet ignore other characteristics and skills that can be measured using these tests? In his book, Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, Kaufman doesn't argue that we should scrap IQ testing altogether. Rather, he suggests we use IQ tests to shed light on a student's specific strengths and weaknesses and create custom-tailored strategies to help them succeed.

Psychology Today recently praised the work Kaufman presented in his book. "My recommendation: buy it, read it, absorb it, and apply it—for the benefit of yourself and for your children," the reviewer says. Further, they call it a "must-read" and add that "reading the book itself is enough to radically change one’s views about intelligence." By looking beyond cognitive intelligence in the classroom, and refraining from our compulsion to divide students into groups based on their skills, we can help to inspire students to do well.

Here are some of Kaufman's tips for rethinking the way we utilize intelligence tests (you can also check out his full-length report on intelligence testing here):

  • Don't feel limited to using one test: Mix-and-match sections from multiple tests to ensure that you've tapped into each student's particular strength. Just because they do poorly on one test does not mean that they will poorly on them all. "It’s important to produce a collection of tests that tap a wide range of ways one can express their creativity," to really understand a student's strengths and weaknesses.

  • Put test results in context: Maybe one student didn't answer the question correctly because they felt there was another answer that was more suitable, but it wasn't one of the available choices. Or, perhaps a student does know the correct answer, but has a hard time focusing under certain conditions. Knowing who they are can help you understand how they answer the test questions, and why they answer a certain way.

  • Analyze how the student answered the question, not just the answer they gave:  Again, context is vital. Looking at how each student arrived at their answer can provide a wealth of information about how they think, and, how to effectively teach them new skills.

  • Test interpretation: "The focus should be improving a child’s creative expression and performance, not holding the child back," Kaufman writes. The test score itself is only part of the process.

Scott Barry Kaufman shares new insight on harnessing and fostering creativity both in the classroom and the boardroom in his inspirational talks. He urges us to seek a new definition of intelligence, and not to discount the unique strengths we possess that can help us succeed. To hire Scott Barry Kaufman as a speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau.

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