Friday, May 17, 2013

Fluid Intelligence: What is it? What part does it play in cognitive development?

The Cattell-Horn-Caroll (CHC) theory is a model that has been developed to describe 10 broad abilities and 70 narrow abilities of intelligence (Lynch & Warner, 2013).  A series of blogs will provide brief descriptions of the 10 broad abilities of intelligence as described in the CHC theory.

Fluid Intelligence

A preschool teacher might observe a three-year-old student carefully building a tower with blocks only to knock it down with one swift blow.  Blocks fall when you push them, right? What a great illustration of cause and effect!

Cattell originally described fluid intelligence as the ability to solve novel problems and make predictions about logical patterns in relationships like the example above (Schneider & McGrew, 2012). Fluid intelligence also incorporates quantitative reasoning –ordering, sequencing, classifying, predicting, determining what comes next and answering why and how questions (Piaget, 1952). Activities that promote awareness of size, distance and spatial relationships help children develop this aspect. Fluid intelligence has a great impact on children’s development of mathematical reasoning (in Lynch & Warner, 2013).

The broad abilities that CHC presents give an idea of research-oriented developments in the area of cognitive development.  DuPage Children's Museum is grounded in an approach to exhibit development and programming that focuses on theories of constructivism including work by Jean Piaget (1896-1980) and Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934). For more information on theories of cognitive development:

Myerhoff, M. Understanding Cognitive and Social Development in a Newborn


Waterman, Amanda, PhD, Theories of Cognitive Development: Piaget and Vygotsky

Information in this blog has been adapted from: Lynch, Sharon A. and Warner, L. 2013. “How Adults Foster Young Children’s Intellectual Development.” In Young Children, Vol. 68, No. 2, 86-91. Washington, DC: NAEYC.

Resources: Piaget, J. 1952. The Origins of Intelligence in Children. New York: Norton.

Schneider, W. and McGrew, K. 2012. “The Cattell-Horn-Carroll Theory of Intelligence.” In Contemporary Intellectual Assessment: Theories, Tests and Issues, 3rd ed., eds., D.P. Flanagan & P.L. Harrison, 99-144. New York, Guilford Press.

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