Saturday, September 24, 2011

Healers of Intelligence

Kurt Fischer and Todd Rose wrote the chapter in The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence about Intelligence in Childhood.  They present a theory of Dynamic Assessment and Dynamic Skill theory of intelligence.  The idea is that the way in which children solve problems is very influenced by the situation and the specific demands of the task.  They introduce other theories of intelligence, as well.  They are certainly of the opinion that there is a lot you can do to help students to be better problem solvers.  They give information about a study by Fischer and Catharine Knight that shows different routes a child might take to becoming a reader.  I quickly found a link to the article involved.  It is here.  That never would have happened in 1971.  I'd still be looking for the article.  Anyway, they also expand their theory to emotional problem solving in an interesting way.  Check this stuff out!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Increasing Intelligence

Raymond S. Nickerson wrote the chapter about Developing Intelligence in the Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence.  He believes that at least half of IQ is attributable to environment.  He discusses this issue, and programs developed to provide children with the opportunity to improve their "ability to learn, to reason well, to solve novel problems, and to deal effectively with the challenges - often unpredictable- that confront one in daily life."  Some of these are Head Start, The Carolina Abecedarian Project, and Project Intelligence.  He reviews the evidence for brain plasticity and other factors supporting improved functioning due to experience.  Some of the things that he thinks are helpful are: teaching domain specific knowledge, providing experience with at least informal (if not formal) logic, training in probability and statistics,  supporting executive functioning skills, modeling heuristics and other strategies to solve problems, teaching metacognitive skills (self-management), helping students to develop good habits, and managing students' beliefs about learning.  These all seem to be helpful skills, no matter what relationship that the have to measured IQ.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Nim, and Other Animals

The latest Planet of the Apes movie, and the documentary Project Nim (NPR story here) have brought research with animals into the spotlight.  The story is about 100 years old.  A Russian scientist raised a chimpanzee at home, and studied it extensively about that long ago.  She was impressed, among other things, by the empathy it showed.  Many studies of trying to teach language to animals have been carried out.  The books Nim Chimpsky and Silent Partners tell about some of the studies.  The late Alex, a parrot, was also studied and cared for.  Many of the scientists doing this work are controversial figures.  Sue Savage-Rumbaugh wrote a scientific paper about primates in captivity with three bonobos.  Janis Carter lived in Africa for several years with Lucy, to help her to adjust back to the semi-wild.  William Lemmon and Roger Fouts found it difficult to work together studying chimpanzees.  There are now a number of healers using animals in treating PTSD for people, and working with animals who have been research subjects.  There are many questions about whether and how animals should be used in research.  The trend is towards understanding the natural methods that the animals use to communicate and cope in their environment.