Contemporary Intellectual Assessment, Theories, Tests and Issues, Second Edition

By Beal, A. Lynne | Canadian Psychology, February 2006 | Go to article overview
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Contemporary Intellectual Assessment, Theories, Tests and Issues, Second Edition


Beal, A. Lynne, Canadian Psychology


DAWN P. FLANAGAN and PATTI L. HARRISON (Eds.) Contemporary Intellectual Assessment, Theories, Tests and Issues, Second Edition New York: Guilford Publications, 2005, 657 pages (ISBN 1-59385-125-1, US$70.00 Hardcover)

The three primary objectives of this book are: 1) to present in-depth descriptions of prominent theories of intelligence, tests of cognitive abilities, and issues related to the use of intelligence tests with special populations; 2) to provide important information about the validity of contemporary intelligence tests; and 3) to demonstrate the utility of a well-validated theoretical foundation for developing intelligence tests and interpretive approaches, and for guiding research and practice. This is a heady agenda.

This Second Edition updates the work begun in the First Edition that addressed the advances in cognitive science since the early days of intelligence testing. The authors write that a second edition is needed because of the "tremendous growth in intelligence theory and measurement of cognitive constructs" since 1997 (p. xi). Psychometric theory and tests have evolved to test the human abilities identified by cognitive science. Practitioners now are challenged to align their assessment practices to these new theories by using the new tests and interpretation guidelines. This edited volume provides 29 chapters by prominent historians, theorists, test developers, and assessment leaders in intelligence testing and school psychology.

The first objective is met, to a fault. Part 1 provides two chapters tracing the historical and theoretical origins of intellectual assessment and interpretation. These chapters specify the paradigm shift: "Once a psychologist knows these theories, which are marked by various similarities, he or she can interpret most modern intelligence tests with confidence" (p. 34). Here we learn that "as intelligence tests seek to measure similar core constructs, they increasingly resemble commodities" (p. 34). The implications for practitioners are far reaching. However, the history of the early development of intelligence tests gets repeated across the remaining chapters, bogging the book down in repetition, and detracting from the authors' ultimate goal of providing professionals with the knowledge necessary to use the latest intelligence batteries effectively.

The chapters of Part II present theories of intelligence outlining the nature of human cognitive abilities as they are currently understood. Chapters include Horn's Three-Stratum Theory of Cognitive Abilities; Gardner's Multiple-Intelligences Theory; Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Successive Intelligence; Nagleri and Das' Planning, Attention, Simultaneous, Successive (PASS) Theory; and McGrew's interpretation of the Cattell-Horn-Carroll Theory of Cognitive Abilities. These theories drive new models for test developments, providing an alternative to the long-established clinical model underlying intelligence tests.

Part III, new to the Second Edition, provides some of the most informative chapters, which challenge conventional thinking in intelligence assessment and lay the groundwork for a paradigm shift and new tests that deliver additional applied value. McGrew boldly asserts that "the CHC theory of human cognitive abilities (or some slight variation) has been recognized and adopted as the definitive psychometric theory upon which to construct a working taxonomy of cognitive differential psychology" (p. 170). He quotes Jensen's (2004, p. 5) assertion that the CHC framework is "an open-ended empirical theory to which future tests of as yet unmeasured or unknown abilities could possibly result in additional factors at one or more levels in Carroll's hierarchy" (p. 170). Each theory is described in detail. McGrew's table (pp. 151-157) with definitions of the Broad (Stratum II) and Narrow (Stratum I) CHC Abilities is especially helpful for practitioners intent on describing people's abilities, rather than psychological tests in their assessment reports.

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