misassessing excellence

27 02 2009

in a poorly titled article on academicleadership.org, wolf kozel presents and very interesting summary of literature related to what academic excellence, genius, and the dominant learning paradigm of the past have to say about what makes a quality leader.  in a dynamic systems view of leadership, talent and intelligence, kozel presents a wide range of research finding which indicate that how we evaluate academic success and project intellectual success have little to do with actual life success and the ability to create and lead.

For example, he cites research that shows that dyslexics are over-represented amongst corporate CEO’s:

According to Sally Shaywitz, a neurobiologist at Harvard university, dyslexics are over-represented among the top rank of CEOs and achievers (Morris, Munoz & Neering, 2002). It is presumed by Shaywitz that dyslexics may learn early on coping skills, resilience, risk-taking, humility, as well as people skills. The high achievement of people with dyslexia runs counter to the standard view of dyslexia as a disability.

That perception of elite status impacts the actual ability for students to understand their need for learning:

Taleb (2007) contends that in real-life elites often show an epistemological arrogance by believing that they know more than others while also drastically overpredicting the extent and power of this knowledge.

He even presents research that shows group knowledge out performs particularly selected individual learning on “who wants to be a millionaire?”:

Page’s research (2007) in his book The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies, shows a randomly assigned group will often routinely outperform a group that is especially selected for the task. Page observes that in the popular television quiz show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” the “Ask the Audience” option has a higher percentage of correct answers than the option “Phone a Friend”—a friend who is chosen because they are ostensibly an expert and well-read in many fields.

He concludes with an unsupported claim that a Dynamic Systems Theory framework for learning can help to address these issues that arise out of diverse influences on learning and achievement.  while i happen to agree, the real value in his article is the wonderful array of research that he ties together.

the question that sticks in my mind is whether there is a value in trying to build an assessment using dst to better predict academic success or for that matter life success based upon various criteria.  or is it really best to let time and experience make that judgment through actual achievement?  is assessment, and prediction, of achievement simply part of the old paradigm of learning and teaching?



One response

29 08 2010

Very nice sharing.thanks

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