Cognitive Science for Learning: Fluid Vs Crystallized Intelligence and their Implications for Learning

Intelligence means different things to different people depending on the context where they discuss about. In the school setting intelligence means being smart or expertise on studies. In such a setting, a person who can remember and understand subject matters easily than others is known as an intelligent person. According to some authors, intelligence is determined by the test score received from an intelligent test. However, these are known as traditional measures of intelligence. These measures focus only one dominant factor of intelligence and discard some important aspects of human intelligence. In this essay, first, I discuss about the dominant aspect of intelligence. Then, I elaborate upon recent models of intelligence, which describe the relationship between brain, aging, and learning. Finally, I highlight the importance of such relationships for designing adult teaching and learning programs.
Early researchers attempted to measure the levels of intelligence of children and adults. Spearman proposed “g” factors to measure the humans’ intellectual capacity. According to him intellectual capacity is measured by IQ score. However, “g” factor is not a perfect indicator of measuring the level of intelligence where multiple abilities and dimensions exist. Thurstone is the first scientist who lived during the 1930’s developed primary mental abilities indicators to analyze the adult intelligence. These indicators include spatial relations, reasoning, word fluency, verbal meaning, numbers, perceptual speed, and memory. However, in mid 1960’s Cattell (1963) and Horn and Cattell (1966) presented the theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence, which shows the relationship between the level of intelligence and age. Fluid intelligence is dependent on the central nervous system. It associates with logical reasoning, pattern recognition, and response speed. Crystallized intelligence is determined by the life experience and education. This intelligence is related with the set of skills such as ability to reason about real life problems, job skills, and analytical skills. Research indicates that fluid intelligence has a negative relationship with age and crystallized intelligence has a positive relationship with age. However, recent theories indicates that intelligence is context dependent. As a result, culture and context play significant role in determining intelligent behaviour.
A person who has high level of fluid intelligence is capable of solving unfamiliar problems using logical expressions. He/she is able to solve problems with little instruction and guidance. After finding the solution for one problem, they tend to apply such techniques to other similar problems to find solutions. Therefore, people who have high fluid intelligence are able to perform their job under minimal supervision. On the other hand, people who have fluid intelligence need hands on structured instruction for solving unfamiliar problem. Generally, after solving one problem, they do not have skills to apply such techniques to solve similar types of problems without close supervision.
Crystallized intelligence is known as a major factor of the academic and occupational success. The high level crystallized intelligence creates knowledge that assists to solve complex real world problem. A person who has high level of crystallized intelligence is able to perform his learning or job duties under the minimal supervision. Under such a situation, an instructor acts as a facilitator or coach.


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