What is it about?

Despite being a very important concept in psychology, courses on intelligence are not common at universities. Often the topic is part of a larger course on other topics (like developmental psychology or testing) and not its own course. Most dedicated courses on the topic are based on discredited theories, such as Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, or empirically weak ideas, such as emotional intelligence. The article closes with an encouragement for psychology faculty to launch their own intelligence course, with tips and a sample course outline.

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Why is it important?

Psychologists know more about intelligence than almost any other topic in the social sciences, and intelligence is an excellent predictor of academic, workplace, and health outcomes. Yet, classes dedicated to the topic are extremely rare. This may partially explain the widespread misunderstandings about basic facts of intelligence--even among psychologists and psychology students. When students learn inaccurate information--or nothing at all--about important psychological traits, it has several negative effects. It shortchanges students' education. It allows incorrect ideas to flourish and for people to be mislead by "experts." It prevents scientific information from informing public conversations and policies. Adding an intelligence course to the curriculum won't fix all of these problems, but it will make students and the public better informed than they are now.


This study greatly benefited from the work of my student and co-author, Jared Z. Burton. He collected and compiled the data and helped me make sense of it. It's always great to work with an industrious, creative student who is dedicated to the research project. It is also a pleasure to share information about my pedagogy with my colleagues, and I hope that some of them adopt my ideas for an intelligence course.

Dr Russell T. Warne
Independent Scholar

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The Neglected Intelligence Course: Needs and Suggested Solutions, Teaching of Psychology, January 2020, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0098628320901381.
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