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Learning ability is one of the most crucial elements that build personal and organizational success in constantly changing environments and hypermedia contexts. How can learning ability be measured and more importantly, how can it be developed?

IQ measurement typically contains a set of tasks that reflect different aspects of intelligence, such as speed, accuracy, working memory span, verbal reasoning or visuo-spatial ability. Many correlates to IQ have been formulated and manifest in practice as tests of logical or verbal reasoning. The idea in using these tests to predict learning ability is that people who can efficiently handle abstract and concrete information and make correct judgments based on it are also good at learning new things and act sharply in a work setting. This kind of measurement and concept of learning reflects the idea that it is a fixed characteristic. However, if learning is viewed in light of what is known about brain function, the development of learning theories, different pedagogical models as well as the characteristics of hypermedia work, it poses new demands on measurement and even definition of intelligent functioning.

When applying the connectivist view of learning to measuring and defining intelligence, it is not important how much information is in store, but what kinds of connections you are able to create within knowledge frameworks and in useful contexts. Instead of focusing on memory of static information, it would be more sensible to concentrate on the ability to form enriching connections, be it with technology or people. Learning ability as a concrete characteristic should be redefined as something more dynamic, such as readiness to connect in a meaningful way which truly reflects the ability to learn.

However, as the huge amount of information and media available leads at times to redundancy, so can new connections be value creating or a pure waste of energy. Creating learning that is of some use requires that a person experiences a sense of meaning in the learning situation / connection. An important quality of someone who wishes to learn more would then be to be more aware of things that are personally meaningful. There is no sense in building connections and learning things that have no personal purpose. This is a fabulous thing, because it means that to develop their learning, people should only do things they honestly find interesting and that take them towards their personal goals.

If learning and intelligent function exist only temporarily and morph with context, they seem quite difficult to grasp with psychological constructs and traditional methods based on their operationalization. Evaluating or measuring learning ability should thus always happen in a reasonable context. Simulations as assessment methods have long been used to elicit intelligent context-based action and interaction and continue to be a functional tool for assessment of complex activities such as learning. Also, taking the importance of context out of the picture, measuring the precursors to intelligent function and successful connectivism such as executive function, working memory and attention would give more valuable information about human capacity than an IQ score. Within an individual, the development of learning ability involves growth of awareness, pursuit of personal happiness and increase of internal and reciprocal connectivist activity.

Thank you Jarkko Mylläri

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