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Intelligence Definition and Measurement Essay (Critical Writing)


Intelligence is defined as the ability to understand, comprehend, think critically, communicate, attain new skills, learn, and plan; it is the mental power and capability that vary among human beings. When comparing intelligence of different people, it is used in the context of defining the ability to solve problems or difficult situations and personal understanding of abstract elements of life.

Psychologists and social scientists have developed theories and assessments test in their attempt to measure and compare intelligence among people of different social, economic, age, and political settings. Some of the most used assessment methods include Kaufman brief assessment theory, Kaufman education achievement tests, nonverbal intelligence assessment, and primary sensory education achievement tests.

This paper will relate the above intelligences theories/tests; it will show the strengths, weaknesses, reliability, and validity of each of them; at the end of the paper will compare and contract the different theories.

Kaufman brief intelligence assessment

According to Kaufman, intelligence is the ability to communicate, reason, understand relationships and cognitive functioning. This definition is shown clearly in his intelligence assessment. The test was used as a measure of verbal and nonverbal intelligence. It was individual administered and participants were between the ages of 4-90 years.

The assessment was designed for traditional brief evaluation purpose like reevaluation, screening and cognitive functioning. Verbal and non verbal subtests were used. Verbal scale involved two subtests that were used to asses receptive terms, common information, reasoning and knowledge. Non verbal subtests used matrices to asses understanding of relationships and image analogues.

The participants were given a clear description on how to administer the questionnaires. Entry point was age based with a back drop until one passed. The questions had one answer which was to be selected from a list. In situations such as deafness and visual impairment, verbal and nonverbal scales were used. In verbal scales, other languages other than English were used to respond.

The work of Kaufman was based on catell-horn-caroll theory of intelligence (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2004). CHC theory of intelligence describes human intelligence as being composed of both content and physical cognitive abilities. The verbal scales were grouped as crystallized ability while the nonverbal scales signified fluid reasoning and visual processing (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2004).

The Kaufman’s study was biased in terms of ethnicity. One region was more sampled than the other and the survey balanced the gender representation without considering the high population of females as compared to males. It was also biased because it did not involve those who could not speak English, psychologically impaired, and physically impaired individuals.

The study did not take into consideration those who are gifted and disabled. The Kaufman study is similar to cotell-horn-corell theory of intelligence in that it was based on cognitive and education capabilities (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2004).

The normative of the Kaufman intelligence assessment was good. 23 age groups were involve with the age group of 5-10 been the most involve. The study reliability was reported to be good and it increased with age.

The assessment is valid because results did not show much difference in terms of gender. Age groups were well spread. Fluid ability has been shown to peak at adulthood and slowly declines with old age while crystallized ability remained stable even in old age (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2004).

Primary test of nonverbal intelligence

This assessment was carried out with intention to understand the nonverbal abilities of children. It was strictly carried out among children between the age of 3-0 and 9-11 months. A picture book was used whereby children responded by pointing to the right picture.

The assessment was designed to test the intelligence ability of young children to determine their future. 1,010 children participated in the assessment with each child being normative representative of a nation (Elrler & McGhee, 2008). The assessment was reliable for it involved physically fit and disabled children. Scoring Judges grouped it as 99 percent reliable.

Its reliability was further determined by comparing it with other five measures of nonverbal intelligence. Its correlation with these other measures was good thus, it is psychologically reliable. The scorers also reported it as being reliable as it was consistent considering it had a small sample. The assessment is valid because of the criterion that was used to conduct it.

It was properly structured for it involved disabled and physically fit children. The study relates to the theory of multiple intelligence which looks at intelligence as the primary sensory abilities and not only on general information. Gardner in this theory shows that there are many cognitive abilities though are weaker when linked with others (Elrler & McGhee, 2008).

Differences between Kaufman brief intelligence test and primary nonverbal intelligence assessment

In Kaufman brief intelligence test, both verbal and nonverbal subtests are carried out while in the primary nonverbal intelligence, only nonverbal subtests are used. The Kaufman intelligence assessed both fluid reasoning and crystallized cognitive while the primary intelligence assessed on sensory intellectual.

The Kaufman assessment involved both children and adults while primary sensory intelligence involved children. The Kaufman intelligence assessment was designed for traditional brief evaluation while primary intelligence considered sensory cognitive.

Kaufman education achievement test

Kaufman education achievement test was designed to measure the level of understanding in mathematics, reading, oral and written languages. The survey was individual administered and it was carried out on individuals between the ages of 4.6 to 25 years. They were tested on their writing capabilities whereby letters and words pronunciation was assessed.

They were also tested on math abilities such as calculations, fractions, algebra, roots and decimals (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2004).Various tests were carried out to test the reliability of test and it was found to be less reliable because there were various variations in correlations. Reliability was shown by internal consistence of the test.

The mean reliability of oral test coefficient was.78 showing that oral languages depend on ability of identity of the student. It was used to express problems rather than abilities. When scoring was done, it showed.90 coefficients thus the study seems to be reliable.

The validity of the test was determined by inter correlations of subtests, composites and factor analysis. The coefficient for written and math test was.70 while for oral languages was at -40-.50. This was because oral languages were tested on ability to listen and speak (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2004).

Kaufman brief intelligence assessment and his achievement tests relates in that they are both assessing crystallized cognitive and fluid cognitive. They are testing the content and physical structure of human cognitive abilities. They are more into education abilities and measure IQ capabilities. He measured verbal and non verbal abilities of human cognitive functioning.

Wechsler individual achievement tests

Wechsler achievement test was designed to test the cognitive abilities of children in kindergarten. It was aimed at measuring their listening, reading and math abilities. The tests were individual administered and they were carried out on children of age 4-0 months and 9-11 years. Unlike in Kaufman achievement test where five subtests were carried out, in Wechsler achievement sixteen subtests were carried out.

Total achievement on written, oral abilities, and pseudo words was tested. Math fluency in multiplication, subtractions and addition was also tested. The aim of this achievement test is to provide in depth of academic assessments and provide recommendations for students with different learning abilities (Elrler & McGhee, 2008).

This achievement test and the primary sensory intelligence assessment are alike in that, they are concerned with non verbal subtests and cater for children with disabilities. Wechsler achievement test is used to measure learning disabilities of children. This is unlike in Kaufman achievement test which was used to measure the learning abilities of children and did not consider the disability factor.

The sample size was a bit greater than in Kaufman test thus it was a good representative of a nation. Norm provided a representative of US population. Split half reliability was reported for all the subtests. On validity, the test was recommended to be used on identifying academic strengths and weaknesses. It was also to be used in determining learning disabilities and design interventions.

The Wechsler achievement test has a good normative representation, strong validity and reliability than Kaufman achievement test. Kaufman achievement test had a small sample size compared to Wechsler thus its normative representation is questionable (Elrler & McGhee, 2008).

The main purpose of developing the different intelligence tests is to assess and determines the cognitive ability of human. They were used to show the cognitive abilities of physically fit, physically challenged, and mentally disabled persons.

The tests are important for implementation of services in learning institutions to cater for physically fit, talented/gifted and disabled gifted students. The studies are used to show learning abilities of individuals in different areas like math, oral and written languages.

It is ethical to have several advisory panels when undertaking intelligence tests studies. Researchers should let people understand the objectives of the study as well as how it will impact on their life, such an approach reduces the study biasness.


Elrler, S., &McGhee, L. (2008). Primary test of nonverbal intelligence. Boulevard: Austin.

Kaufman, S., & Kaufman, L. (2004). Kaufman brief intelligence test. New York: Woodlands.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Intelligence Definition and Measurement'. 23 May.

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