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WICS: A Model for Teaching and Learning. Robert J. Sternberg Tufts University. Contact Information. Robert J. Sternberg, Dean School of Arts and Sciences Tufts University robert.sternberg@tufts.edu. Organization. Introduction The Nature of WICS Teaching for WICS Research Support

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wics a model for teaching and learning

WICS: A Model for Teaching and Learning

Robert J. Sternberg

Tufts University

contact information

Contact Information

Robert J. Sternberg, Dean

School of Arts and Sciences

Tufts University


  • Introduction
  • The Nature of WICS
  • Teaching for WICS
  • Research Support
  • Caution
  • Conclusions
global mission of presentation
Global Mission of Presentation
  • To demonstrate how to teach and assess students for their learning using the WICS model—to help all students achieve at an optimal level.
what is wics
What is WICS?
  • Wisdom
  • Intelligence
  • Creativity
  • Synthesized
why wics
  • You need CREATIVE skills and attitudes to come up with ideas
  • You need ANALYTICAL skills and attitudes to decide whether ideas are good ideas
  • You need PRACTICAL skills and attitudes to make your ideas functional and to convince others of the value of your ideas
  • You need WISDOM to balance the effects of ideas on yourself, others, and institutions in both the short and long terms
a problem with traditional education
A Problem with Traditional Education
  • Traditional education tends to “shine the spotlight” on certain students almost all of the time, and on other students almost none of the time.
  • The result is that some students are placed in a much better position to achieve than are others.
  • The students who are not placed in an optimal position to achieve may be just as able to achieve at high levels as the students placed in a position to achieve. Moreover, the advantaged students will not necessarily be more successful later in life.
views of intelligence schooling and society structure of the closed system
Views of Intelligence, Schooling, and Society: Structure of the Closed System

Ability Testing

Instructional Practice

Achievement Testing

Partial Disconnection

Achievement in the Outside World

views of intelligence schooling and society varieties of closed systems
Views of Intelligence, Schooling, and Society: Varieties of Closed Systems
  • Conventional Ability Test Scores
  • Socioeconomic Class
  • Gender
  • Religious Group
  • Caste at Birth
a problem with traditional education12
A Problem with Traditional Education

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: The Vicious Cycle

Low Expectations

Low Achievement


the concept of successful intelligence
The Concept of Successful Intelligence

Successful intelligence is

  • the ability to achieve success in life, given one’s personal standards, within one’s sociocultural context;
the concept of successful intelligence15
The Concept of Successful Intelligence
  • in order to adapt to, shape, and select environments;
the concept of successful intelligence16
The Concept of Successful Intelligence
  • via recognition of and capitalization on strengths and remediation of or compensation for weaknesses;
the concept of successful intelligence17
The Concept of Successful Intelligence
  • through a balance of analytical, creative, and practical abilities.
motivation for triarchy of abilities
Motivation for “Triarchy of Abilities”
  • Alice:
    • A student high in memory and analytical abilities
  • Barbara:
    • A student high in creative abilities
motivation for triarchy of abilities19
Motivation for “Triarchy of Abilities”
  • Celia:
    • A student high in practical abilities
  • Paul:
    • A student high in analytical and creative abilities but low in practical abilities
the triarchic view of intelligence
The Triarchic View of Intelligence

There are three aspects of intelligence:

  • analytical
  • creative
  • practical
the concept of successful intelligence21
The Concept of Successful Intelligence

Conventional (Analytical)


Creative Practical

Intelligence Intelligence

the concept of creativity
The Concept of Creativity
  • Creativity is one’s skill in generating ideas that are
    • Novel
    • Good
    • Task-appropriate
creativity as a decision
Creativity as a Decision
  • In large part, creativity represents a decision to defy the crowd—to “buy low and sell high” in the world of ideas
the challenge of creativity
The Challenge of Creativity
  • People are afraid to defy the crowd because of
    • External pressure
    • Internal pressure
the concept of wisdom
The Concept of Wisdom
  • Wisdom is the use of intelligence, creativity, and knowledge
  • Toward a common good
  • By balancing intrapersonal, interpersonal, and extrapersonal interests
  • Over the long and short terms
the concept of wisdom26
The Concept of Wisdom
  • Through the infusion of values
  • By adapting to, shaping, and selecting environments
wics instruction and assessment
WICS, Instruction, and Assessment
  • WICS can serve as a basis for teaching and learning by combining processes of wisdom, intelligence, and creativity in an integrative, transdisciplinary way
bases for achievement
Bases for Achievement
  • Learning and thinking skills
  • Learning and thinking dispositions
instructional and assessment techniques
Instructional and Assessment Techniques
  • Balanced use of instruction and assessment that is
    • Memory-Based
    • Analytically-Based
    • Creatively-Based
    • Practically-Based
an example from my classroom
An Example from My Classroom
  • The cerebellum is in the
    • *A. hindbrain
    • B. midbrain
    • C. left brain
    • D. right brain
an example from my classroom33
An Example from My Classroom

For most people, comprehension of language occurs mostly in the ____ hemisphere of the brain.

analytical skills
Analytical Skills
  • analyze
  • compare and contrast
  • evaluate
  • explain
  • judge
  • critique
analytical attitude
Analytical Attitude
  • Recognize existence of problem
  • Define problem
analytical attitude36
Analytical Attitude
  • Mentally represent problem
  • Allocate resources to problem
  • Formulate strategy to solve problem
analytical attitude37
Analytical Attitude
  • Monitor results of strategy
  • Evaluate results
analytical evaluation
Analytical Evaluation
  • To what extent is the product
    • Informed?
    • Logical?
    • Organized?
    • Balanced?
an example from my classroom39
An Example from My Classroom
  • Critique the ethics behind Stanley Milgram’s studies of obedience, discussing why you believe that the benefits did or did not outweigh the costs of the research.
creative skills
Creative Skills
  • create
  • design
  • invent
  • imagine
  • suppose
creative attitude
Creative Attitude
  • Redefine problems
  • Analyze solutions
  • Sell solutions
  • Recognize strengths and limits of knowledge
creative attitude42
Creative Attitude
  • Persevere in surmounting obstacles
  • Take sensible risks
  • Attain self-efficacy
  • Find what you love to do
  • Tolerate ambiguity
creative attitude43
Creative Attitude
  • Continue to grow
  • Maintain a sense of perspective and humor
  • Allow time
  • Defy the crowd
evaluation of creative products
Evaluation of Creative Products
  • To what extent is the product:
    • Informed?
    • Novel?
    • Compelling?
    • Task-appropriate?
construct validation studies
Construct-Validation Studies
  • The Confluence Study
    • Writing Stories
    • Drawing Artwork
    • Creating Advertisements
    • Solving “Scientific” Problems
an example from my classroom50
An Example from My Classroom
  • Suppose you gave the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV) to children growing up in a remote African village in Kenya. What kinds of results might you expect in comparison with results from a large American city? Why?
practical skills
Practical Skills
  • Use
  • Apply
  • Implement
  • Employ
  • Contextualize
practical attitudes
Practical Attitudes
  • Allocate study time effectively
  • Find places and times to concentrate
  • Relate what you learn to what you know
practical attitudes53
Practical Attitudes
  • Work toward a concrete goal
  • Know how and when you will be assessed
  • Look for uses in what you learn
evaluation of practical products
Evaluation of Practical Products
  • To what extent is the product:
    • Informed?
    • Feasible with respect to time, place, and resources?
an example from my classroom55
An Example from My Classroom
  • How do gambling casinos employ reinforcement techniques to keep people gambling at slot machines?
teaching for wisdom
Teaching for Wisdom
  • Teaching for
    • Dialogical thinking
    • Dialectical thinking
    • Balanced thinking
      • Over time
      • Over place
      • Over persons
an example from my classroom57
An Example from my Classroom
  • What would be the most equitable use of high-stakes tests for purposes of college admissions?
principles of teaching
Principles of Teaching
  • The goal of instruction is the development of expertise through the creation of a well and flexibly organized, easily retrievable knowledge base
principles of teaching59
Principles of Teaching
  • Instruction should involve teaching for analytical, creative, practical, and wise thinking as well as for memory learning
principles of teaching60
Principles of Teaching
  • Assessment should also involve analytical, creative, and practical, and wisdom-related components as well as memory components
principles of teaching61
Principles of Teaching
  • Instruction and assessment should enable students to:
    • Identify and capitalize on strengths
    • Identify and correct or compensate for weaknesses
principles of teaching62
Principles of Teaching
  • Instruction should teach students the skills and knowledge needed to think in an integrative, transdisciplinary way
sample course requirements
Sample Course Requirements
  • Examinations
    • Multiple-choice or short-answer items
    • Choice of 2 out of 3 (or 4 out of 6) essays (which are, respectively, primarily analytical, creative, or practical)
sample course requirements64
Sample Course Requirements
  • Term paper/project (unassigned topic that relates students’ disciplinary interests to psychology)
  • Oral presentation (assigned or unassigned topic)
advantages of teaching for wics
Advantages of Teaching for WICS
  • Enables students to capitalize on strengths and remediate or compensate for weaknesses
  • Enables students to encode learning material more deeply and elaborately
advantages of teaching for wics66
Advantages of Teaching for WICs
  • Enables students to encode learning material in multiple ways
  • Motivates students more strongly
  • Enables students to learn and think in an integrative way
  • Prepares students better for actual job requirements
research applications
Research Applications

When we teach for WICS, student achievement increases

the aptitude instruction interaction study
The Aptitude-Instruction Interaction Study
  • When high-school students are taught in a way that matches their pattern of strengths at least some of the time, they perform better than when they are not so taught
the triarchic science social studies main effects study
The Triarchic Science-Social Studies Main-Effects Study
  • Students (in grades 3 and 8) who are taught triarchically (for social studies and science) outperform students who are taught either primarily for critical thinking or primarily for memory, regardless of how the students are assessed (I.e., for memory or for analytical, creative, or practical achievement)
the reading study
The Reading Study
  • When working-class middle school and high school students are taught reading across the curriculum, triarchically taught students outperform students taught conventionally in vocabulary and reading-comprehension measures, regardless of the form of assessment used
the language arts and math study
The Language Arts and Math Study
  • When fourth-grade students were taught triarchically, they performed better, in general, than when they were primarily taught for critical thinking or for memory.
the mathematics study
The Mathematics Study
  • When Alaskan Yup’ik (Native American) high school students are taught geometry concepts triarchically, they outperform students who are taught the same concepts conventionally, regardless of the form of assessment used
caution people can be smart but unwise
Caution: People Can Be Smart but Unwise
  • The “Unrealistic-Optimism” Fallacy
  • The Egocentrism Fallacy
  • The Omniscience Fallacy
  • The Omnipotence Fallacy
  • The Invulnerability Fallacy
for further information
For Further Information…
  • Sternberg, R. J. (1997). Successful intelligence. New York: Plume.
  • Sternberg, R. J., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2000). Teaching for successful intelligence. Arlington Heights, IL: Skylight
for further information75
For Further Information…
  • Sternberg, R. J., & Spear-Swerling, L. (1996). Teaching for thinking. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Sternberg, R. J. (2003). Wisdom, intelligence, and creativity synthesized. New York: Cambridge University Press.
web sites
Web Sites
  • www.yale.edu/pace
  • www.yale.edu/rjsternberg
final conclusion
Final Conclusion

When we teach for WICS:

  • Individuals are better recognized for and are better able to make use of their talents
  • Individuals learn in an integrative, transdisciplinary way
  • Teachers teach and assess students better, with better results
  • Society utilizes rather than wastes the talents of its members
invitation to collaborate
Invitation to Collaborate
  • We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with individuals and institutions all over the world. If you are interested in collaborating with us in one of our ongoing projects or in a new project, please contact me at
  • robert.sternberg@tufts.edu