Sunday, July 21, 2013

Can we use development coach with test expert to customise education?

I found an interesting approach to address three of the seven bottlenecks of learning in schools when I read about the father of Intelligence testing, Alan Kaufman. Let me explain how.

Alan S. Kaufman, who introduced the notion of Intelligent testing and told us how IQ tests should be used. Most of the time IQ tests are used to spot students with learning disability. Or to find how gifted is the student. Global IQ tests (which takes the average performance across different subtests) are of no use, according to him.

What is the intelligent testing approach, as coined by Alan S. Kaufman ? 

Instead of this approach,  let us use IQ tests intelligently, Alan Kaufman suggests.  If a student is finding grave difficulty, say in learning mathematics, he may be referred to a Test expert. The clinician may decide to administer an IQ test - not a global IQ test, but a specific test - to determine the student’s pattern of cognitive strengths and weaknesses in mathematics and then design a custom-tailored intervention. Or, if the student is scoring poorly in faring fast-paced tests, the test expert can test the students 'Working memory' bottleneck. Or, a student may want to increase creativity. Creative thinking is an important skill, but which is often missed when someone just looks at an individual’s global IQ score. For this you require an astute test administrator.

But test administrator is not enough.  A tester can focus on the person being tested, and how that student responds, or why that student responds in a certain manner, in addition to how well they respond. But he also needs a support of a smart student development coach.

What is the work of development coach ?

The smart coach will also observe the behaviour of the child such as anxiety, or his problem-solving strategies. As IQ tests do not capture emotional reactions like stress, distraction, or the student's method of employing willpower strategies, the coach will observe these traits and share with the Test administrator. Neither do the tests capture the conative abilities like passion and desire to study in a domain, which a coach is trained to observe. A development coach is also trained to observe the complete profile of a student, ask the teachers and parents about his behaviors that are unfolding. Test results are meaningless until the individual’s scores are put into context by the test administrator with the coach.

In other words, we should look beyond global IQ scores. More importantly, the development coach has the knowledge of intelligence-creativity research, is aware of the latest theories of development of students including prodigies. He can bring in many aspects of development psychology to bear in the analysis and interpretation of a test scores.  He can understand and use the powerful peer effects to accelerate the student's learning, if required. And he can help the student to focus on domain so that he can use his 'limited IQ' to produce more than commensurate results !


In other words, test administrator and a development coach can help us address the three bottlenecks of learning: no assistance to slow learners, lack of encouragement for fast learners, and no importance of non-academic learning in schools. Test administrator and development coach can together help the student remove the-bottlenecks of their learning and keep them motivated by finding avenues for non-academic abilities.

Morever the development coach can also help teachers in using the diverse traits of a student, instead of overtly focussing on academic IQ. For instance, the coach can share the multiplier effect of development with the teachers. This will enable teachers, for instance, to appreciate how a student's small lag of ability at the age of 3 may have put him behind by miles at the age of 6. This will help teachers to understand the learning styles of their students and help them alter their teaching method to help some 'kinesthetic learning' students !

In the next blog, i will share with you a group which is doing good work on  giving quick feedback to the students on their learning effort ( the first bottleneck of learning). Because the student does not feedback on what they have learnt quickly enough, they cannot correct their learning progress quickly enough. This group helps the students fill this gap by giving this quick feedback.

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