A Science Odyssey Title Human Behavior Activity Title

Testing, Testing

Overview: Assess intelligence test questions for bias
Learning Goal: Understand roots and flaws of intelligence testing
Video Link: Eugenics vs. Behaviorism

Ask students what makes them think somebody is smart or talented. Generate a list of attributes -- for instance, verbal or math skills, musical talent, athletic talent, creativity, problem solving, insight. Suppose students had to measure each of these: How would they go about it?

Present the video segment, which starts with a focus on U.S. Army intelligence testing. Go to the Relevent Appendix and see actual 1917 intelligence test questions that you may print out. Hand out copies of these questions to students. Explain that such tests determined an individual's role in the army. Picture questions were for people who did not speak English or couldn't read and write.

Ask students to consider the following: Which questions are easiest or hardest? Does this vary among classmates? Are there questions for which more than one answer is possible? What skills and knowledge would a person need to score well on the test? Are some people more likely to score better than others; would a person's education, sex, or cultural background make a difference? Ask students how well they think these questions identify people who would make good military officers. Based on these questions, what kinds of people were most or least likely to become officers? What qualities might be useful in an officer, and how might those be measured? Why is it difficult to design an unbiased test?

Relevent Appendix (test questions)
Human Behavior Program Contents

Activities subtitle

Conditioning Consumers
Brave Old World
In-Depth Investigation: Memory Lane

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