Assessing the Relationship Between IQ Scores and the Rate of Acquisition and Retention of a Simple Learning Task
Connolly, Anne B.
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The problem. The concept of intelligence has never been precisely defined, yet standardized intelligence tests frequently are employed in the public school system to predict academic performance and to place students accordingly. The underlying assumption seems to be that IQ scores measure intelligence and that intelligence affects learning, or that intelligence somehow is the ability to learn. This study will measure the performance of elementary school students in a standardized operant discrimination task and assess the relationship of their IQ scores to such performance measures. Procedure. Five first-grade students, each with differing IQ classifications, were given a novel labeling task. This consisted of a one-to-one instructional period followed by a session post-test to assess the number of labels learned during the session. Token reinforcement was administered for each correct response during the post-tests. A comparison was made between the number of trials to mastery of the task and IQ level. The subjects were retested after a three-month time lapse to determine how much of the learning was retained. Findings. The results indicated that there was a slight positive relationship between IQ level and rate of acquisition. However, a detailed analysis of each child's performance revealed differing patterns of learning which should not be disregarded. There was no correlation between IQ level and retention. Conclusions. The relationship between IQ and learning is not as straightforward as might be assumed. Thus, caution should be exercised regarding its sole use as a predictor of academic success. Recommendations. Further research on this issue incorporating a larger sample of subjects and more sensitive measures of learning is suggested in an attempt to provide more illuminating information.
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