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pathetic attitude are temperamentally unfitted for mental testing.
It is desirable that at least a year of training in experimental psy-
chology should precede practice work in giving the tests; and
before the examiner may be confident of administering them

\ \ \ I 1-^

66-65 66-75 76-S5 SQ-'J5 96-105 106-115 116-125 12t)-135 138-145
.33% 2.3% 8.6% 20.1% 33.9% 23.1% 9.0% 2.3% .55%

Fig. 35. — Distribution of intelligence quotients of 905 pupils. After Ter-
man ('16, p. 66).

satisfactorily he should have practice under supervision with
thirty to forty cases. The examining room should be plainly fur-
nished and free from disturbing interruptions or distractions.
The confidence of the child should be obtained before the examin-
ation is begun and his efforts should be encouraged so that he may
react to his best advantage. Above all, the exact formula for giv-
ing and scoring each individual test must be followed rigorously
if the tests are to have reliable diagnostic value.

Measurements Obtained from the Use of the Binet-Simon Tests.
Goddard tested some 1,500 pupils by means of the revision of the
Binet-Simon scale prepared by himself. He found the distribution
of abilities as shown in the following table in which are specified



the number of pupils one or more years ahead or behind their
chronological age in mental maturity. The remarkable finding
is the enormous range of the mental ages of pupils of the same
chronological age, extending from those who are 4 or 5 years re-
tarded to those who are 4 or 5 years accelerated.


ical Age

4 ,...









Totals ....






At Age






































































A similar investigation was made by Terman ('16) of 905 pupils
showing a distribution in terms of the intelligence quotient as
given in the accompanying diagram, Figure 35. Kuhlmann ('12)
tested some 1,300 defective individuals in the institution at Fari-
bault, Minnesota, and found mental ages for various chronological
ages as follows:






Average Chron-




ological Ages

Mental Age

I- S


















36. s



Many uses of such measurements as these may be made in
school. Thus, for example, the number of retarded pupils in our
schools is usually stated to be very large and the number of ac-
celerated pupils is usually stated to be very small. The percentage
of retarded pupils is placed in many schools anywhere from 25
to 50%. An intelligence examination of 483 pupils in Kansas City








(Dougherty '13), showed that the percentage of pupils as dis-
tributed both according to intelligence and according to over- and
under-age plans was as follows:


Chronological Age 49%

Mental Age 21%

It appears thus that the large percentage of so-called over-age
pupils is not due to lack of capacity but to various other causes.
The abilities of pupils seem to be distributed approximately in a
normal, symmetrical manner. The large majority of pupils are
in the center or at-age with about equal numbers retarded or
accelerated. Many of the over-age pupils in the numerous age-
grade statistics that have recently been complied are not mentally
arrested but entirely normal or average.

Measurements of Special Capaci'ies in Relation to General
Intelligence. The second general method of measuring original
capacities is as yet largely in the experimental stage. However,
substantial beginnings have been made and a number of investiga-
tions have been carried out which indicate with considerable
assurance that it would be possible to select a series of tests of
specific mental functions which would be correlated closely with
general ability and could, therefore, be used as symptomatic meas-
ures of general intelligence. An extensive investigation on this
order was made by Simpson ('12) in which he attempted to solve
two problems one of which was to determine what sort of tests
would be indicative of intelligence, and the other was to apply
them to two groups of persons widely separated in general in-
telligence. He proceeded accordingly to apply some 13 or 14 tests
to two groups of persons, one group of 17 individuals composed of
professors and graduate students of Columbia University, which
represented the upper end of the intelligence scale, and the other
group of 20 persons whom he found at the Salvation Army Indus-
trial Home and at the mission on the Bowery in New York City,
which represented the lower end of the intelligence scale. These
tests were applied from two to four times each and were then com-
pared with estimated intelligence as ranked by the impressions of
several persons. The correlations of these various tests with es-
timated intelligence were as follows:



TABLE 27. After Simpson ('12)

Estimated intelligence and Ebbinghaus Test

" " " Hard Opposites

" " " Memory for Words

" " " Easy Opposites

" "A" Test

" " " Memory for Passages . . .

" " " Adding

" " " Geometric Forms

" " " Learning Pairs

" " " Completing Words

" " " Drawing Lines

" " " Extending Lines

From these correlations it appears that some of the tests serve
very well as indicators of general ability, such as the various mem-
ory tests, the Ebbinghaus test, and the opposites tests. Certain
other tests, however, seem not at all to be symptomatic of general
capacity since their correlations are approximately zero, such as,
for example, the drawing of lines and geometric forms.

A similar study was made somewhat earlier by Burt ('09), in
which he found the following correlations of various functions
with estimated intelligence:

TABLE 28. After Burt ('09)

General Intelligence and Attention (Dotting)

" " Apprehension (Pattern) . . .

" " " Adaptability (Mirror) ....

" " " Memory (Words)

" " " Discrimination (Alphabet)

(Cards) . . .

" " " Reaction (Tapping)


" " " Perception (Pitch)


" Touch (Two pt.)

" " " Weight Discrimination ... .

In an investigation made by the writer a series of eight tests
was apphed to a group of 15 high school pupils. Each test was
given very carefully to each child individually according to a
uniform technique and repeated four times on four different occa-
sions. The difficulty with a great deal of testing work has been
that the tests have not been applied under sufficiently constant or
rigorous conditions or repeated sufficiently often to yield a fairly



accurate measurement of the particular capacity in question. At
the close of these tests each of the 15 pupils was asked to give a
rating of the other 14, placing the one that was estimated to have
highest intelligence as i, and so on down to the 14th. The pupils
knew one another well and so were able to give fair opinions. From
these ratings a combined rank of general, estimated intelligence
was obtained and these ranks were then correlated with the ranks
in individual tests as well as with the combined ranks in all tests
put together. The results are shown in the following table:

Estimated Intelligence and Memory of Words .

Memory of Passages. . . .


Mental Addition

Arithmetical Reasoning. .

All Tests

" " except V pposile:i

Thus it will appear that the tests individually, with the ex-
ception of the opposites, as well as collectively, agree very closely
with the combined estimates of intelligence given by the 15 pupils
of one another. The estimates of intelligence of pupils agreed very
closely among themselves. The pupil who stood highest in the
estimates of his fellows was estimated first by all pupils but one.
The ranking of the others, of course, did not agree as closely, but the
agreement was so close that the combined ranking yielded a rather
reliable rating. The chief discrepancies between the estimated rank
and the test rank occurred in the case of two of the fifteen pupils.
The one was a boy who was estimated considerably lower by his fel-
lows than was his rank in the tests. His estimated rank was 14
while his test rank was 5. The other pupil was a girl whose esti-
mated rank was considerably higher, 5, than her test rank, 11.
Upon inquiry it was discovered that the boy was not liked well
by his associates, while the girl was unusually popular. Their true
mental ability was probably indicated more correctly by the tests.
The pupil who stood first in all tests combined, and was given
first place by all his comrades except one, completed the high school
at fourteen and maintained an excellent record in the university.

The promise of these and other investigations is sufficiently
great to make it possible to develop a series of properly selected
tests with a definite technique to measure the general ability of


human beings with considerable trustworthiness. It would be
necessary, after the selection of the tests, to develop definite norms
for each test and for each particular year from infancy up to adult
life. The advantage of a series of tests of this kind over the Binet
type, would be that they could be applied and evaluated with
greater precision; that they would measure more directly certain
fundamental mental capacities; that they would be less dependent
upon particular environmental conditions, and that they would
yield more objective and scientific results. The specific test method
of measuring intelligence gives greater scientific promise and will
in the future probably replace the Binet method to a large extent.





Analysis of the Learning Process. What are the mental and
neural processes involved in various types of learning such as
writing, reading, spelling, adding, solving problems, operating type-
writers, grasping laws of nature, retaining facts, playing tennis,
riding a bicycle, sawing to a straight line, speaking a foreign lan-
guage, and the like? Probably all forms of learning can be reduced
to one relatively simple, schematic type: Reception of impressions
through the senses; assimilation, analysis, and combination of proc-
esses in the mind; and redirection of impulses to produce a reaction;
or in brief, stimulus, association, response. A child learns to avoid
a disagreeable stimulus by receiving the sensation, associating it
with disagreeable consequences, and reacting by avoiding the stim-
ulus. The chick learns to avoid disagreeable caterpillars by the
same process. Visual and gustatory stimuli are brought to the ap-
propriate centers of the brain and there associated so that whenever
in the future the visual stimuli of the cateq^illar are brought in, the
disagreeable taste associations will also arise which will cause an in-
hibition of the muscular actions concerned in pecking at the cater-
pillar. A pupil, on the first day of school, is shown certain black
marks on a chart or in a book and is told "hat" which is to cause
him also to say the word " hat." The psychological series of events
is as follows: First, the visual stimulus from the page transmits im-
pulses to the visual centers in the brain and simultaneously the audi-
tory stimulus from the pronunciation of the word by the teacher
transmits impulses to the auditory center in the brain; second, con-
nections between these visual and auditory stimuli in the brain and
arousal by the auditory stimuli of images and meanings of the object
"hat" which have been established through previous experiences
before coming to school; and third, a redirection of impulses to the
motor centers to attempt to speak the word "hat." A little later
the pupil is given a pencil and is asked to make these same black
marks which have the name "hat." The psychological series con-
sists of, first, visual stimuli from the form of the letters to the visual
centers in the brain, second, the establishment of connections in the



brain between the visual centers and motor centers for the hand,
and third, redirection of impulses from the motor centers to attempt
to write the word "hat." Then from the muscular movements of
the hand and arm, made more or less by trial and error, kinesthetic
sensations are derived and associated in the mind with the visual
stimuli of the word "hat." These two sets of sensations become
associated and direct the motor responses in carrying out the writing
act. Still later the pupil is given (i) the visual or auditory stimulus,
"If you buy a pencil for three cents and give the clerk five cents,
how many pennies should you receive back?" which (2) arouses a
variety of association processes between various numbers such as
multiplication, division, addition, or subtraction, and out of the
mass of associations one is selected, namely, five minus three equals
two, and this in turn (3) directs the impulse to the motor centers
to say "two." All learning, even including reasoning, is probably
of the same fundamental type. The only difference is that there
are more elements involved in each of the parts of the three-series
connections and that, owing to the larger number of elements
aroused, a selecting or picking out of certain elements rather than
of others takes place. Learning facts of history, economics, or
science may be described in the same general schematic manner.
The facts are either read in a book, heard spoken by the teacher, or
observed directly. These sensory impressions are associated, dis-
sociated, and combined in various ways, which in the course of
time usually lead to some form of reaction either of speech or of
larger muscular activity.

The preceding examples of school learning depend for the most
part upon simple associations, that is, upon the law that things ex-
perienced together or in close succession tend to come back together.
Thus after a certain number of repetitions the sight of certain black
marks will set off promptly the reaction of speaking the word "hat."
But in reality the process of learning is almost never as simple as
this. While it is true that association bonds must be set up be-
tween situations and responses, a single situation is almost certain
to present to the mind of a child of school age a multiplicity of
aspects. As a consequence we find, instead of a single bond joining
the response to the situation, a number of bonds each joining the
response to a different part of the situation. Thus the word "tri-
angle" may be associated with an equilateral triangle of red card-
board, Vs inch thick, 8 inches on each side, showing a dull gray
edge and weighing one ounce. Innumerably different combina-


tions of bonds may accomplish this. There may be, for example,
a major bond leading to a reaction to the redness, a secondary bond
connecting the reaction with the size and symmetry of the sides,
and minor bonds emanating from the thickness and color of the
edge, while the weight and texture of the paper, the shade of red
and, most important of all, the number of sides and the angles may
not emerge from the complex at all. Clearly such a set of bonds
would be worse than useless in the presence of a right-angled triangle
indicated in a book by black lines on a white page with the angles
labeled by letters and with a base ^4. inch long. By dint of numer-
ous experiences with a variety of triangles and with the help of the
teacher who points out the essential three-straight-sidedness, the
characteristics peculiar to a triangle finally emerge more or less
clearly from the complex and become associated with the various
reactions appropriate to "triangle." The false bonds are either
destroyed or greatly weakened. Association is still the basis of the
process, but there is in addition the dissociation from one another
of the various characteristics which make up the complexes called
objects. This is conveniently spoken of as learning by analysis and
abstraction. When complete, the process of analysis and abstrac-
tion, which makes possible the reaction to parts of situations rather
than wholes, clearly is an enormous advance over simple associative
learning. One association thus properly attached to the significant
part of a situation may function without any further effort in a great
variety of similar but otherwise entirely novel situations. This
is probably the essence of reasoning. But again we must note that
the process is rarely so simple as has been outlined. Rarely are the
preliminary analysis and abstraction so complete that a reaction
is transferred without delay to a very novel situation. Besides,
the attention may be distracted from the often subtle and incon-
spicuous but significant element in the new situation by the novel
and striking but irrelevant features. Sometimes some of these ir-
relevant features touch off a reaction which is entirely inappropriate.
For example, all but the very brightest pupils in a class, which has
learned to compute with facility the area of triangles from printed
problems and diagrams in a book and which knows how to measure
accurately a straight line, would be completely at a loss to know
what to do if given a 66-foot tape measure and confronted by an
area of ground in the shape of a scalene triangle measuring 4 by 7
by 10 rods, covered with flower beds in a setting of greensward and
surrounded by an ornamental iron fence three feet high. The


sagacious few, if well taught, will react unerringly to the significant
element in the situation. Such are the processes involved when a
child has learned to isolate the significant element from the situa-
tion: "If you buy a pencil for three cents and give the clerk five
cents, how many pennies should you receive back?" so that it
touches off the subtraction reaction rather than that of addition,
multiplication, or division.

Common and Special Elements in the Learning Process. If we
grant that the stimulus-association-response series is the schematic
pattern of learning, it will be convenient to discuss the psychology
of learning in two parts: first, the psychology of learning in general
in which the elements common to various types of learning will
be examined; and second, the psychology of the learning of school
subjects in particular in which the special elements and processes
peculiar to each type of learning will be examined.

Practically all tj-pes of learning of whatever sort, have certain
processes in common. They have in common certain elements of
sensation and perception which are involved in the reception of the
stimuli in any sort of learning. Associated bonds are formed in
certain fundamentally similar ways no matter what the mental
processes are between which the bonds are formed. Retention, as-
similation, analysis, abstraction and generalization have certain uni-
form characteristics. Likewise the redirection and reaction proc-
esses follow certain general principles. But on the other hand, each
type of learning has its own special sensory material presented and
perceived in its own particular manner; it has its own special bonds
which must be formed between its peculiar elements; and it has its
own type of reaction occurring in its own individual way. Thus
in learning to read, the series is, first, visual-auditory stimuli of
words and groups of words; second, association of visual-auditory
impressions and the memory of the objects which they represent;
and third, the response of speaking. In learning to spell, the series
is, first, visual-auditory stimuli of letters in a certain succession;
second, association of the stimuli in their particular orders; and
third, response in speaking or writing.

The Psychology of Learning in General versus the Psychology
of Learning of School Subjects. The procedure of learning in
general can probably not furnish the process and technique of the
learning of school subjects. The process, the technique, and the
economy of the learning of school subjects must be worked out
experimentally in detail for each particular subject. All that the


procedure, technique, and economy common to all types of learning
can do is to furnish a broad general background. Thus the sub-
stitution experiment in the author's Experiments ('17), Chap-
ter X, furnishes certain conclusions with regard to the distribution
of time according to which the establishment of the bonds in-
volved in this particular type of learning can be made most
economically. This experiment shows that it is more profita-
ble to work at the task 10 minutes twice a day than 20 minutes
once a day, or than 40 minutes once every other day. It would,
however, be folly to attempt to generalize from such an experiment
merely and to say that it is better to teach writing 10 minutes at a
time twice a day than 20 minutes once a day, or than 40 minutes
every other day. All that the experiment indicates is the general
principle that short periods of work distributed at certain intervals
of time are productive of greater progress in learning material of this
sort than longer periods distributed at longer intervals. What the
length of the most economical periods and the intervening intervals
would be in the case of writing, reading, or any other school sub-
ject, cannot be inferred on a priori grounds from a general prin-
ciple, but must be determined in detail for each particular type
of material and for the particular conditions under which the
learning must take place. All that the general principle can do is to
point the way to a more or less probable solution, but the particular
direction and the course of the path must be determined from fur-
ther observations. The factors and laws of the mind as set forth
in general psychology can therefore not be carried over bodily
into the psychology of a particular type of learning. General
psychology can furnish its experimental technique and its funda-
mental laws which will serve as guides in the development of the
psychology of special types of learning. From this point of view,
the psychology of school subjects and the pedagogy of these sub-
jects resulting therefrom, which is likely to be the only sound
pedagogy worthy of the name, are as amenable to experimental
attack according to rigorous, scientific procedure, as the problems
in other fields of psychology have been amenable to the technique
of experimental methods.

Program of Problems. According to our analysis, then, the
following problems result:

A. The psychology of learning in general.
I. How are the stimuli received?


a. How do sensory defects interfere?

b. What are the factors and conditions of observation

and perception?

2. How are they associated, analyzed and combined in the


a. What is the rate and progress in the formation of

associative bonds?

b. What factors and conditions promote or hinder the

most economical formation of the bonds?

c. What are the effects of one set of associations upon

other sets of connections? (Transference of

3. How are they redirected into responses?
B. The psychology of school subjects in particular.

1. What are the specific psychological processes involved

in the learning of each particular subject?

2. How may the capacities in each subject be measured?

3. What factors and conditions promote or retard the

learning in each particular subject?



Importance of Normal Sense Organs. The first point of con-
tact with external stimuH is through the sense organs. It is obvious
that this point of contact should be as perfect as possible so that
the stimuli which are to furnish the material for learning, may be
received as accurately and completely as possible. The eye and
the ear are the most important avenues of information. Defective

Online LibraryDaniel StarchEducational psychology → online text (page 9 of 41)