Keith Stanovich Wins Grawemeyer Award in Education

Keith Stanovich, APS Fellow and Professor of Human Development and Applied Psychology at the University of Toronto, is the 2010 Grawemeyer Award Winner in the field of Education. He received this prestigious honor for his recently published book What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought (Yale University Press, 2009).

The Grawemeyer Awards are five annual prizes given in the fields of music, political science, psychology, education, and religion. H. Charles Grawemeyer was an industrialist, entrepreneur, astute investor, and philanthropist who created the Grawemeyer Awards at the University of Louisville in 1984. An initial endowment of $9 million funds the awards, which draw nominations from around the world.

The awards honor ideas rather than life-long or publicized personal achievement, in keeping with Grawemeyer’s belief that great ideas should be understandable to a lay person with general knowledge and not be restricted to specialized academics.

In his book, Stanovich points out that critics of intelligence tests argue that these tests neglect important qualities such as emotion, empathy, and interpersonal skills. Nonetheless, a tacit assumption conveyed by such critiques is that, despite missing certain key noncognitive areas, intelligence tests still include most of what is important in the cognitive domain. Stanovich challenges this widely held assumption in his book, showing that IQ tests are radically incomplete as measures of cognitive functioning.

Stanovich believes these tests fail to assess traits that most people associate with “good thinking,” for example, cognitive skills crucial to real-world behaviors such as planning, evaluating, and decision-making. “My book explores the social and educational implications of the mismatch between the importance of rational thinking skills and what is assessed on IQ tests,” says Stanovich. IQ tests fail to assess such rational thinking skills, even though they are measurable cognitive processes. Rational thought is just as important as intelligence, Stanovich argues, and should be valued as highly as abilities currently measured on intelligence tests.

Stanovich’s work is a prime example of basic psychological research’s application to education. “It is not the first time I have been involved in basic research in cognitive psychology that influenced education, said Stanovich, “This work had important implications for the concept of intelligence — a concept that still (often implicitly and unconsciously) affects educational practice.” Stanovich was excited to receive this award, saying, “Months before the winner is announced you are notified that your work has been nominated…but I basically forgot about it from there on, because Grawemeyers get dozens of nominations. It is certainly a shock to learn that you have received such a prestigious award.”

For more visit the Grawemeyer Award website at http://www.grawemeyer.org . For more on the previous Grawemeyer Award for Psychology winners such as APS Members and Fellows Anne Treisman, Albert Bandura and Aaron Beck, Charter Members and Fellows Lynn Nadel and James L. McClelland, and Past President Elizabeth Loftus, visit http://grawemeyer.org/psychology/previous-winners .

 

Observer Vol.23, No.9 November, 2010

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