EDUC 391
Intelligence in Everyday Life


Fall 2008

TR 11:00 a.m.-12.15 p.m.
Smith Hall, Room 201

 School of Education

University of Delaware

|| Objectives || Course Requirements || Grading || Writing Fellows ||
|| Policy on Cheating || Policy on Illness ||
|| Quick Calendar of Assignments || Weekly Schedule of Reading and Writing ||
|| Required and Recommended Readings ||



Linda S. Gottfredson (


Willard Hall 219b


(302) 831-1650

Office Hours:

Tues., Thurs. 1:00-2:00 and by appt.

Writing fellows:

Dave Cavagnino

Christine Ingari



Anonymous suggestion box


Course Objectives

This course is a Freshman Honors Colloquium. As such, it emphasizes class discussion and requires considerable writing. The aim is to develop your thinking and writing skills while sharing an intellectual adventure into a sometimes contentious scientific arena--differences in human intelligence.

We will focus on questions of most relevance to daily life in modern society. Is intelligence just a narrow academic skill, as some critics claim, or does it provide practical advantages in everyday affairs? What is life like for people of low, average, or high intelligence? And just what is intelligence anyway, and why do people (even siblings) differ so much in intelligence level?

This course examines old discoveries as well as new surprises in the scientific study of intelligence. We will also closely examine various IQ tests to help understand why the mental differences they measure have practical value in virtually all arenas of social life, but especially education, work, and health. There is a wide dispersion in intelligence within all societies, so we will ponder and debate the vexing challenges that such variation poses for democratic societies such as ours.

We will carefully distinguish the scientific search for facts (what “is”) from the moral and political debates over how we should respond to them (what “ought to be”). This is very important. Although scientists lack complete understanding of the facts, they look at the quality of evidence for competing explanations in order to decide—provisionally—which is closer to the truth. Such contests are not decided by what we want to be true, but by what the total body of evidence says. This is a science class, so I demand that all claims about facts be supported by evidence and logic, not wishes and presumptions. How citizens and policy makers ought to deal with the facts is an entirely different matter, however. There are always different possible choices, and citizens and policy makers will inevitably disagree about which ones are best, depending on their own interests and values. Science can help us understand what our choices are but it can never tell us which to choose. That is what the democratic process is for—negotiating our choices. I will therefore encourage you to think about alternative social policies for dealing with the empirical realities we discuss.

Course Requirements

  • There will be three papers. You will rewrite the first two. Rewriting is more then just a cosmetic touch-up. It involves rethinking, too. Usually lots of it. A Writing Fellow will be available to assist you with all papers, including the rewrites. See the schedule below for when papers and rewrites will be assigned and due. All papers and rewrites must be typed, double-spaced, proofread, and stapled—and pages numbered. You can use any standard bibliographic style for your references.

All three papers will involve different aspects of a larger research project, to be explained in class. (See also Starting Library Research).

  • In addition to the graded assignments, there will be daily pass-fail writing assignments based on the readings for that day. I much prefer but do not require that these assignments be typed. Pass-fail assignments for a particular day are always finalized by the end of the prior class.
  • You will be expected to attend class, have done your readings, and regularly participate in class discussion. Your participation grade is enhanced by a willingness to take intellectual risks in class, asking good questions, facilitating discussion among your classmates, and bringing pertinent news articles and observations to class. Being prepared also includes bringing the day's readings to class, because we will sometimes turn to them during our discussions.

Table of Contents


  • 80% Papers
    • 25% Rethink/Rewrite 1
      • Note: You must turn in the first versions of Papers 1 and 2 on time, or I will subtract points from your grade for the rewrite.
    • 30% Rethink/Rewrite 2
    • 25% Paper 3
  • 20% Class participation (doing pass-fail writing assignments, attending and being prepared for class everyday, being a fully contributing member of your research team, raising good questions in class).
  • I grade using the plus-minus system.

Writing Fellows

This course, like other Freshmen Honors Colloquia, participates in the Honors Program's Writing Fellow Program. Writing Fellows are UD undergraduates who have taken a special course in peer tutoring of writing.

  • Fellows come from many majors, and are not intended to know the subject matter. They do not comment on the content of your papers. Rather, they work with you, one-on-one, to help you improve your writing. (I will give you feedback on the relevance, accuracy, and completeness of the content.) Fellows do not edit or correct your papers. Rather, they help you formulate, organize, and support your ideas, among other things mentioned below. Our objective is not just for you to end up with a better paper, but to become a better, more self-aware writer!
  • Here is the fellowing process we follow in this class.
    • Paper 1:
      • You will turn in two copies of your paper, one to me and one to your writing fellow. You will also bring with you a completed Writer Response form for your fellow. It gives the fellow helpful information when going through your paper.
      • NOTE: Your first version is not a "draft!" It is your first best effort. If it's not, then you are wasting my time and the fellow’s, and you are less likely to end up with a satisfactory result.
      • One week after you turn in the paper, you will get feedback on it from the writing fellow.  Fellows do not give any grades.
      • You will have one week to rethink and revise your paper. During this time you will meet for a one-half hour conference with your fellow to discuss how you want to revise your paper. You will turn in two copies of your second version.
      • The conference for this paper is mandatory, and you must notify the fellow ahead of time, if possible, when you cannot keep your appointment. You must then reschedule it.
      • I will return your revision to you in one week, with feedback and a grade.
      • You may seek advice from either the writing fellow or me, or both, anytime during this process.
    • Paper 2:
      • Exactly the same process as for Paper 1.
    • Paper 3:
      • There is no mandatory conference, but I strongly encourage you to meet with your writing fellow because you will not be rewriting this paper.
  • Fellows use a variety of practices to help students with their writing, depending on the stage of the writing process and students' needs. For example, they can help you
    • brainstorm thoughts for a paper and interpret the writing assignment
    • revise your drafts by helping you with organization, tone, the thesis statement, proper citation, and the like
    • use a variety of stylistic techniques to polish near-final drafts.
  • Writing fellows are a wonderful and rare resource. Make good use of this opportunity.

Policy on Cheating

·         Please familiarize yourself with the University's statement on academic dishonesty in the Student Code of Conduct, especially as it pertains to plagiarism.

  •  I prosecute cheating and I have won all cases so far.

Table of Contents

Policy on Illness

If you have a contagious illness, please do not come to class. Stay home and rest. Just let me know as soon as you can why you will miss, or have missed, class. Your classmates and I can help you catch up.

Quick Calendar of Assignments

Clicking on the date in the calendar will take you to that date's readings and P/F writing assignment. (Clicking on the day in the Weekly Schedule, further below, will also take you to that day's assignment.)

Sept. 9  

Sept. 11

Sept. 16

Sept. 18

Sept. 23

Sept. 25

Sept. 30

Oct. 2

Oct. 7

Oct. 9

Oct. 14

Oct. 16

Oct.  21

Oct. 23

Oct. 28

Oct. 30

Nov. 6

Nov. 11

Nov. 13

Nov. 18

Nov. 20

Nov. 25

Dec. 2

Dec. 4

Dec. 9





Paper 1
Oct. 9
Oct. 23

Paper 2
Nov. 11
Nov. 25

Paper 3
Dec. 12









Weekly Schedule of Reading and Writing



Day 1 (9/4)      Introduction

·        Cartoon

Day 2 (9/9)      Gap between public perceptions and the science on “intelligence”

  • ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, “The American Agenda,” part 1, ____ (in class)
  • “Mainstream Science on Intelligence,” Wall Street Journal, December 13, 1994, p. A16 (handed out in class)
  • Neisser ("Knowns and unknowns"(first and last pages only) 


Day 3 (9/11)    A look inside some IQ tests

  • Deary's Intelligence, pp. 1-12, "Dataset 1" (also the prior 5 pages if you don't know what correlations are)
  • A checklist for assessing Gardner's intelligences—take it yourself, then bring to class
  • In class, you will examine the widely-used IQ test that Deary describes (the WAIS)


Day 4 (9/16)  Public controversy over the meaning and measurement of intelligence

  • Jensen's Straight Talk, pp. ix-xiv, 1-13
  • Think Tank video on The Bell Curve, part 1 (shown in class)

Day 5 (9/18)  Test validity: What do test scores really mean? (education as the focus)

  • Jensen's Straight Talk, pp. 19-20, 26-34, 50-51. Pages 21-26, 42-50 are only recommended.

Day 6 (9/23)  Intelligence as g (the general mental ability factor)

  • Jensen's Straight Talk, pp. 52-73
  • Deary's Intelligence, pp. 13-16 (Dataset 2)



Day 7 (9/25)  Complexity as the key to g's importance in everyday life, I: Jobs as mental tests

  • Gottfredson's "Why g matters," read pp. 79-80, 87-92 carefully and skim 81-86 well enough to explain the main points highlighted in the article's subheadings
  • Deary's Intelligence, pp. 91-99 (Dataset 10)
  • Handout on What is g?

Day 8 (9/30)  Complexity as the key to g's importance in everyday life, II: Job tasks as mental test items

Day 9 (10/2)  Daily self-maintenance as a complex job: "Functional literacy" (bills, order forms, bus schedules, maps, etc.) and “health literacy” (prescription labels, prep directions for lab test, appt. slips)

Day 10 (10/7)  Chronic diseases and accident prevention as cognitively demanding jobs

Try this! How many hazards can you find in this picture? Bring it to class


Day 11 (10/9)  Life chances and challenges along different ranges of the IQ bell curve

·         Gottfredson's "Why g matters," pp. 116-125.

·         Masten  ("Resilence in children at risk")

·         Lunsky & Reiss ("Health needs of women with mental retardation") 

DUE: Paper 1

Day 12 (10/14) Mental retardation 

  • Koegel & Edgerton ("Black 'six-hour retarded children' as adults")
  • Kenney ("When one falters...")
  • Matarazzo ("Degrees of mental retardation")
  • NBC video ("The struggle to be normal - fitting in"--in class) 

Day 13 (10/16)  Giftedness


Day 14 (10/21)  Homo sapiens’ big brain

  • TBA
  • Adams ("The evolution of idiots" --very short, very funny piece from a Dilbert book on the trouble that smart people create for everyone else)

Day 15 (10/23)  Young and old: Or, the rise and fall of raw mental power

·         DUE: Paper 1 rewrite

Day 16 (10/28)  g and speed of simple mental processing

  • Eysenck (Chapter 4: "Intelligence, reaction time, and inspection time")


Day 17 (10/30)  Brain correlates of g

  • Eysenck (Chapter 5: "The biological basis of intelligence")
  • Deary's Intelligence, pp. 43-49 (Dataset 6)
  • Everyday efforts to raise intelligence nutritionally--not required


Day 18 (11/6)  Genetics of intelligence I: Heritability


Day 19 (11/11)   Discussion of class findings

Due: Paper 2

Day 20 (11/13)  Genetics of intelligence II: Two big surprises

  • Eysenck (Chapter 3: "Nature and nurture: The great partnership") 
  • Deary's Intelligence, pp. 81-85 (Dataset 8)
  • Murray ("Brains, rather than...")
  • Worksheet on shared and non-shared environmental effects--bring to class

Day 21 (11/18)  Genetics of intelligence III: Two big myths

  • Rowe, pp. 133-146, 153-155


Day 22 (11/20)  Cultural bias in testing: How much, if any?

Day 23 (11/25)  Magnitude and implications of group differences I: Race and class

  • Jensen's Straight Talk, pp. 191-196, 206-212 (pp. 213-223 recommended)
  • Rough rendition of differences in bell curves for races, sexes, and social classes.
  • Different views of whether we should research or talk about racial differences in ability--not required

Day 24 (12/2)  Magnitude and implications of group differences II: Sex

Due: Rewrite 2

Day 25 (12/4)  The tradeoff between equality and excellence

Day 26 (12/9)   Different views on how society should deal with differences in intelligence

Finals day (TBA)  Relevance of intelligence differences to social policy

·        Team recommendations

Paper 3: DUE: Friday, Dec. 12, in my office or mailbox by 4:00 p.m.


Required and Recommended Readings

Note: Some readings may be deleted and others added during the course of the semester. The readings (and pass-fail assignments) for any specific class will be considered final at the time of the previous class.

  • Required books available at UD bookstore
    • Gardner, J. W. (1984). Excellence: Can we be equal and excellent too? (revised edition). You will read most of this little book. {Gardner's Excellence}
    • Deary, I. (2000). Intelligence: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. You will read several chapters of this. {Deary's Intelligence}
    • All other required readings are available online (see below).

Table of Contents

  • Required and recommended articles (all online, some requiring the class password: 6335)—plus some extras
    • Adams, Scott. (1996). Pp. 6-9 in The Dilbert Principle. New York: Harper Collins.
    • Affeldt, J., & Paterson, E. (1994, November 17). I.Q. tests are designed for white middle-class children. Oakland Tribune, p. A18. 
    • Benbow, C.P., & Stanley, J. C. (1983). Pp. 146-148 in Academic precocity: Aspects of its development. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.
    • Boldt, D. (1998, Sept 19). Casting a new thoughtful light on the racial gap in test scores. The Inquirer.
    • Bornstein, M. H. (1994). Infancy. Pp. 570-575 in R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human intelligence. New York: Macmillan.
    • Bouchard, T. J., Jr. (1997). Whenever the twain shall meet. The Sciences, pp. 52-57.
    • Davis, B.D. (1980). Three specters: Dangerous products, powers or ideas. Pp. 3-8 in A. Milunsky & G.J. Annas (eds.), Genetics and the law II. New York: Plenum.
    • Edgerton, R. B. (1981). Another look at culture and mental retardation. Pp. 309-320 in M. J. Begab, H.C. Haywood, & H.L. Garber. (Eds.), Psychosocial influences in retarded performance. Vol. I: Issues and theories in development. Baltimore: University Park Press.
    • Eysenck, H. J. (1998). Intelligence: A new look. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
      • Chap. 3. "Nature and Nurture: The great partnership" (pp. 29-47).
      • Chap. 4. “Intelligence, reaction time, and inspective time” (pp. 49-60).
      • Chap. 5. “The biological basis of intelligence” (pp. 61-80)
    • Fowler, S. (1996, March 1996) "Test helps teams make smart picks." The Charlotte Observer, pp. 1A, 15A.
    • Gardner, H. (1998, Winter). A multiplicity of intelligences. Scientific American Presents, 9 (4), 19-23, 51.
    • Gottfredson, L. S. (1998, Winter). The general intelligence factor. Scientific American Presents, 9 (4), 24-29, 51.
    • Glazer, N. (1994, October 31). The lying game. The New Republic, 15-16.
    • Goo, S. K. (1998). "Steering wheels are lap desks in scary mobile offices." Wall Street Journal, September 23, p. B1.
    • Gottfredson, L. S. (2002). "Everyday effects of health literacy." Excerpt from g: Highly general and highly practical. A chapter in R. J. Sternberg & E. L. Grigorenko (Eds.), The general intelligence factor: How general is it? Erlbaum.
    • Gottfredson, L. S., & Deary, I. J. (2004). Intelligence predicts health and longevity, but why? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(1), 1-4.
    • Grenier, R. (1994, October 19). The ongoing irrelevance of IQ. Washington Times, p. A19.
    • Herrnstein, R., & Murray, C. (1994). The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life, Chapter 21: "The way we are headed". New York: Free Press.
    • Holewa , L. (1998, Oct. 16). High-tech parking meters prove too taxing. News Journal. p. A4.
    • Holloway M. (1998, Winter). Seeking "smart" drugs. Scientific American Presents, 9 (4), 24-29, 51.
    • Jensen, A. R. (1998). The g factor: The science of mental ability. Greenwich CT: Praeger.
    • Kaus, M. (“End of equality" article)
    • Kaus, M. (1992, June 22). The end of equality. Excerpt in The New Republic.
    • Kenney, E. L. (1997, November 3). When one falters, the other is there. News Journal, pp. A1, A8.
    • Koegel, P., & Edgerton, R. B. (1984). Black "six-hour retarded children" as young adults. Pp. 145-171 in R. B. Edgerton (Ed.), Lives in process: Mildly retarded adults in a large city. Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Deficiency.
    • Laycock, F. (1979). Terman's studies. Pp. 38-48 in Gifted children. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Co.
    • Lindberger, U., & Baltes, P. B. (1994). Aging and intelligence. Pp. 52-66 in R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human intelligence. New York: Macmillan.
    • Loehlin, J.C. (1992). Should we do research on race differences in intelligence? Intelligence, 16 , 1-4.
    • Lunsky, Y., & Reiss, S. (1998, March). Health needs of women with mental retardation and development disabilities (Letter). American Psychologist, 53, (3), p.319.
    • Maller, J. B. (1933). Vital indices and their relation to psychological and social factors. Human Biology, 5, 94-121.
    • Masten, A. S. & Coatesworth, J. D. (1998). The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments. American Psychologist, (53), 205-220.
    • Matarazzo, J. D. (1972). Weschler's measurement of adult intelligence. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins.
    • Murray, C. (1997, May 25). Brains, rather than family background, determine how well our children will do in later life, says author of The Bell Curve Charles Murray. London Sunday Times.
    • Sample data on the heritability of attitudes and life events 
    • Seligman, D. (1994). Chapter 6 (Slipping: How intelligence declines with age") in A question of intelligence: The IQ debate in America. New York: Citadel Press.
    • Schofield, J. W. (1982). Pp. 84-92 in Black and white in school: Trust, tension, or tolerance? Praeger.
    • Seligman, D. (1994). Chapter 1 ("What it's like to take an IQ test") in A question of intelligence: The IQ debate in America. New York: Citadel Press.
    • Seligman, D. (1998, April 20). Gender and brains II. Forbes, pp. 52.
    • Seligman, D. (1998, April 6). Gender mender. Forbes, pp. 72.
    • Shweder, R.A. (1991, March 17). Dangerous thoughts. [Review of In search of human nature, by C. N. Degler. New York: Oxford University]. New York Times Book Review, pages 1, 30, 31, 35. {ER}
    • Simonton, D. K. (1994). Chapter 8 ("The importance of intelligence") in Greatness: Who makes history and why. New York: Guilford, pp. 216-246.
    • Thurow, R. "Duh...NFL players really aren't so dumb." The Wall Street Journal, April 19, 1996, p. B1.
    • Weissglass, J. (1998, April 15). The SAT: Public-spirited or preserving privilege? Education Week, 44-45.
    • Winner, E. (1996). Pp. 1-43 in Gifted children: Myths and realities. New York: Basic.

Table of Contents

Linda S. Gottfredson
219b Willard Hall
School of Education
College of Human Services, Education, and Public Policy
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716
(302) 831-1650 (phone)
(302) 831-6058 (fax)

© URL=
This page was last modified on 02/11/08.