Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Carol Smith


This paper originates from a deep desire to understand how historic values of intelligence have led to our modern-day conceptions of intelligence. After only five years of teaching, I was drawn to this topic as I felt it was connected to the service I provide my students and the community in a position as a lead teacher, program coordinator and teacher's aide. The question of the nature of intelligence and aptitude greatly impacts the feedback we offer students, intended for their intellectual growth and academic development. I attempt to distinguish myths from realities about how intelligence evolves and is measured, by exploring the works ranging from those of Alfred Binet and Lewis Terman, who founded intelligence testing, to the Instrumental Enrichment Program of Reuven Feuerstein (FIE), among other, more contemporary analysts and scholars such as Howard Gardner, Daniel Goleman, and Robert Sternberg. I address directly variations in our conceptions of intelligence and their influence on curriculum and teacher practice in the American classroom. My exposure to this topic began in the early part of my graduate career. Through the Critical and Creative Thinking program I have been faced with many challenges, including uprooting old assumptions about what intelligence really is. Inculcated by my family and in school, I believed the IQ test was the absolute measure of whether an individual was smart or not. None of my ideas acknowledged what the true plasticity of the mind was. I had not yet gained an understanding of the necessity for both critical thinking and a creative outlet. My goal in this Synthesis is to speak to fellow teachers, in elementary school and secondary education, to help them consider how outdated conceptions of intelligence still shape our impressions of what processes and knowledge are valuable in our classrooms. In the paper I incorporate alternatives to the mainstream teacher tools through FIE, so teachers can develop professionally and holistically and therein greatly enhance the success of their students. I propose that teachers must first acquire the skills necessary to be able to recognize potential in student work and encourage in them the habits of mind which will develop thoughtful, motivated students.


Contact for access to full text

Included in

Education Commons