What is the Educational Significance of Individual Differences in Intelligence?

The individual differences in respect of intelligence were not known before 1900. It was assumed that intelligence was equal in all pupils and there were only a few who were abnormal when differences were recognized.

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Men and women, boys and girls were classified into different types and it was assumed that idiots and geniuses have minds different from others.

It was discovered that the genius learns more rapidly and remembers better and is able to solve more difficult tasks and the idiot is incapable of doing the simplest tasks even. The notion that the very extremes of distribution constitute sharply demarcated types has been repeatedly refuted by scientific investigation.


Some pupils are bright in most things and others are consistently dull. There are not two or three types of pupils: genius, dull and normal. The differences in intelligence are graded. Types exist only as hypothetical averages or as extremes of a continuous distribution

Individual differences in intelligence are of three types individual differences in the unselected, homogeneous group, sex ,nations, races differences between groups (e.g., between age levels, educational significance), (differences within an individual.

The educational significances of within-group differences is that we have differing, stimulating environment to the gifted and the mentally retarded the educational significance of between-group differences is to deal with them adequately wherever they exist. The nature of differences within the individual is to improve those qualities he is most gifted with.

Individual Differences within a Group


For the sake of convenience we may hypothetically divide a group into slow learners, normal learners, mentally superior, bright, and dull and remember that:

1. The bright and dull achieve less under unfavorable conditions.

2. The mentally superior may succeed in their learning ability as far as interests and available educational facilities take them.

3. The slow learner will reach his limit of educability sooner than the normal or superior one. But if he is given the most favorable environmental background and learning conditions, he is enabled to learn more at his pace of learning.


4. The normal learner may achieve good success in schools if favorable conditions are provided.

Teachers and educators will have to remember that individuals evidently develop only the portion of their potential that is required by the environment. We should not let potential at any age to suffer underdevelopment as much as we can in our schools.

We should understand that we are not succeeding in our schools because we are not doing our best to check under achievement. Children do achieve less than what their mental ability warrants them to achieve and it is a challenge to every teacher teaching in schools.

The Slow Learner

The I.Q., of slow learners is in most cases below 90 but there are slow learners in the range 90-110 and it is necessary for the teacher to deal properly with them because they tend to profit little from academic work done in the school and show comparative retardation in academic achievement.

Recent studies show that such learners, though they reach their limits of educability sooner than the superior, are capable of learning more at their own pace if more favorable environment is provided.

Slow learners with repeated explanations, varied approaches and concrete explanations come up with absurd answers. Explanations, drills and demonstrations seem to have little effect on them.

They require about three to four times as many experiences to consolidate learning as the bright or normal pupils do. Even with extra time and repetitions they reach the limit of their ability, buy they do learn in accordance with their mental age.

It takes more time, more repetitions, more drill, and more demonstrations and can become assets rather than liabilities in the society. The following are the suggestions to deal with them:

1. More repetition of facts in different contexts and drill on fundamentals.

2. To make learning concrete, more illustrations, demonstra­tions, examples, experiences to be given.

3. Effective motivation in the form of immediate rewards, short-term goals, praise, encouragement.

4. Traits of punctuality, neatness and health to be emphasized.

5. School work to be related with the occupations the learners will take up as adults.

6. Very little criticism or sarcastic remarks to be given.

7. Illustrations to be simple and specific, examples to be given from daily life.

8. More schooling, more hours of school work and more years.

9. Promotion to be given on chronological age rather than on achievement. Grading to be done according to personality growth.

The present school system does schooling for the average and neglects the slow as well as the rapid learner. The bright ones are reed back and slow learners are dragged or left behind by declaring m as failures. The slow learner is the individual who is neglected if theUse teachercan do noting for him.

He is ignored totally. But if the school wants, it can do something for him. We have, therefore, sized on more repetition, more illustration, and more effective, no censure or blame and one cent per cent promotion social or emotional maladjustment may not arise

Rapid Learners

Many words have been used to designate what we call rapid learners. The gifted, the genius, the talented and the creative are some of the terms used in psychology to designate those who stand at the top level or at one extreme end of the normal curve for intelligence.

Gifted is a frequent designation and a certain specific I.Q. range has been allotted to those who are known as gifted people.

Scores on intelligence testing ranging from 130 to 140 have been used to identify them. Others scores on special abilities or achievement have been used in conjunction. We have not used the word gifted purposefully here.

The word gifted has greater relationship with the natural endowment which we call talent as in gift of the gab. It indicates talent, musical or artistic or of leadership and as such it is not connected with intelligence. The word ‘genius’ is also not appropriate so far as pupil-population is concerned, because here it is a bit meaningless term.

The class-room teacher has more to do a with rapid learner, that is, a pupil who finds school work rather easy, who is excellent in all school subjects, who loses interest in things in which his age mates are intensely interested, who is superior in character and personality traits as judged by tests or by teacher observers.

Suggestions of deal with a rapid learner we propose:

1. Enrichment of instructional programme: an abundant supply of books, laboratory equipment, and illustrative material for he may select the one needed according to his personal aims.

2. School work to give a liberal background for later professional preparation.

3. Enrichment of daily life experiences and readings to expand and clarify them.

4. More of verbal descriptions and generalisation, less of repetition, study beyond that required for average or slow learner.

5. Emphasis on development of personality and character traits.

6. Skipping of grades commensurate with social and emotional! development

7. Emphasis on well-rounded development and expansion of interests.

8. More permissiveness, freedom and challenge than more prescription of work.

The gifted or the rapid learner is a challenge to the school because he sometimes asks questions which are annoying to the average teacher. If he does not get answers to these questions he becomes bored and his energies turn to undesirable acts. Some educators therefore suggest that educational programme for these pupils should be enriched.

We have emphasized the development of character and personality in the fast learners because when success comes with little effort in competition with persons who possess less mental ability, the fast learner is apt to develop egoistic tendencies.

Skipping over may be adopted with caution, for it may create problems of social adjustment. Since we want the gifted person to lead the average ones, he should proceed with them and not away from them.

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