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Maria Gunther: Sometimes, the most intelligent is to not draw any conclusions at all

Intelligence is a trait that you cannot change very much.

do you Agree completely, partially or not at all?

from Indiana University in Bloomington in the united states put the question to the 150 scientists and mathematicians who teach at a major american university, and then compared how their a total of over 15,000 students passed the courses.

the Results may seem striking. When the lecturer considered that intelligence is something unchangeable performed the students worse. Groups which are usually underrepresented at the universities, that blacks, hispanics and ursprungsamerikaner, seemed to suffer the most. The difference between their and their white and asian-fellow students average rating was greater when the teacher had a static view of intelligence, and a reduction of teachers with a more dynamic conception of talent.

During Friday presented the research group, their results on the vetenskapskonferensen the AAAS in Washington, dc, and simultaneously published in the journal Science Advances. The researchers 'own interpretation is that students' performance is a result of teachers ' view of ability and believes that the so-called ”growth mindset”, that is, a setting that people can grow and develop their abilities, would help vulnerable students and reduce differences between groups with different backgrounds.

towards the study. The first thing I wonder is if we can really be sure that the university professors think the same thing with the word intelligence. In the past six months I have been on leave from the DN to write a book about just that: what intelligence is and what science can really say about it. I have learned something, it is that intelligence is a difficult and from time to time infected issue.

If the teacher, for example, sees intelligence as that which can be measured in an intelligence test, then the IQ, then they will be totally right if they say that it can not be changed or affected. Our IQ is at the same level throughout the life, there is good evidence from many studies. But we can of course develop. IQ is only our potential, which can show how easy we have to learn new things. Thus, it is quite possible that both agree completely in the claim that intelligence (defined as IQ) is constant and still have a “growth mindset”.

Further objection is the similar results were not kept when they have been tested by other researchers. An example is the so-called threat from the stereotype - an effect that, inter alia, seemed to show that girls who were told that men are better at mathematics than women performed worse on the math test.

from Indiana University seem to effect give a good explanation to why we see differences between performance, between gender and between groups: do you or your surroundings that you belong to an inferior group can self-belief cause you to perform worse.

But the theory of the threat from the stereotype does not seem to hold when tested by other researchers, most recently in a study of more than 2,000 high school students in the Netherlands, published in January in the journal Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology, where the researchers could not find any effect.

Sure, we have all the experience of how teachers and lecturers can either lift us so that we perform better or push down and inhibit us. But what it depends on and what we can do to reduce the disparities between gender and ethnic groups in the classroom remains to be done to find out.

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