CIPs Teaching Tips – Spring 2013 #2 Making our students rock solid AND ready to roll

CIPs Teaching Tips – Spring 2013 #2

“Making our students rock solid AND ready to roll”

Two interesting terms were mentioned in an article in the November issue of the Sunday New York Times insert, “Education Life” – crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence.

The article defines crystallized intelligence as “the mental storehouse of knowledge and procedures” and fluid intelligence as “the ability to solve novel problems, to see patterns and understand complex relationships – to find order in the chaos.

The article itself is about brain trainers such as the company LearningRx and the online site Lumosity.  Experts argue about whether this type of training results in greater fluid intelligence or a greater ability to take tests. What experts agree upon is that both types of intelligence exist. So which one is more important for our students to have when they finish their undergraduate education?

The Academy has traditionally focused on crystalized intelligence; however, in order to have fluid intelligence, in order to see patterns and make sense out of chaos, one must be able to recognize what it is that they are seeing. Our students do need a foundation of knowledge and the understanding of where and how to obtain further knowledge. But this foundation is not enough. This foundation doesn’t make them able to think in the integrated ways they will be required to in their future career positions nor will it be enough to help them navigate the tricky paths of global politics, human rights, and economics.

We do our students a disservice if we send them out into the world unable to integrate their prior knowledge and experiences with the new concepts and unexpected results they encounter. We do them an even greater disservice if we teach them that being educated simply means having crystallized intelligence.

So this semester, remember it’s all about rock and roll. Offer your students the opportunity to build a solid foundation of knowledge AND guide them to think fluidly by designing learning activities and assignments that demonstrate and require them to think in complex ways. I for one think the world will be in better hands in the future if you do.

CIP, Center for Instructional Practice

Located on the second floor of the Miller Information Commons (the library) across from the printer – MIC 205

Contact Director Cinse Bonino for a one-on-one CIP instructional design session:

Email: or Phone: 802 651 5965 Skype: cinse.cip




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