Teaching for Wisdom, Intelligence, Creativity, and Success


Robert J. Sternberg, Linda Jarvin & Elena L. Grigorenko

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  • Part I: Teaching for Wisdom, Intelligence, Creativity, and Success

    Part II: Why and how to Teach for Successful Intelligence

    Part III: Integrating Teaching and Assessment in your Classroom

    Part IV: Why and how to Teach for Wisdom

    Part V: Synthesis: Helping Students Achieve Success and Satisfaction in their Lives

  • Copyright

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    List of Tables


    About this Book

    This book aims to bring together some of the enduring themes and most significant work of Robert J. Sternberg and his collaborators at the Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise (PACE), a center originally at Yale University and now at Tufts University. The book offers a rationale and suggestions for K–12 instruction and assessment based on Sternberg's theories, and the empirical work based on these theories, to foster in students the capacity for wise, successfully intelligent, and creative learning, problem solving, and living. This book represents an overview of roughly a dozen years of collaborations with teachers in different grade levels all across the United States and abroad. We are grateful to all the collaborators we have had over the years, and dedicate this book to the teachers with whom we have worked.

    The book comprises five main parts, providing (1) an introduction, (2) a guide on how to teach for successful intelligence, (3) a guide on how to assess for successful intelligence, (4) a guide on how to teach and assess for wise thinking, and, finally, (5) a synthesis to show how you can bring it all together in your classroom. In each chapter, you will find an overview of the concepts (e.g., successful intelligence, principles for sound assessment, wisdom), followed by concrete, hands-on examples of how you can implement these ideas in your classroom. Each part ends with a “your turn” space for you to reflect on and apply what you have just learned in that part. Yes, we will put you to work and ask you to respond to the book!

    We hope that you will find this book to be a helpful and inspiring resource.


    Throughout this book, we have provided examples of learning and assessment activities sampled from a number of different curriculum units developed by the PACE Center in recent years. We are very grateful to all the PACE members who were involved in this effort, and wish to thank (in alphabetical order):

    Damian Birney, Kathleen Connolly, Bill Disch, Tona Donlon, Niamh Doyle, Sarah Duman, Nancy Fredine, Carol Gordon, Pamela Hartman, Smaragda Kazi, Jonna Kwiatkowski, Jacqueline Leighton, Delci Lev, Donna Macomber, Nefeli Misuraca, Erik Moga, Tina Newman, Paul O'Keefe, Renate Otterbach, Carolyn Parish, Judi Randi, Morgen Reynolds, Alina Reznitskaya, Robyn Rissman, Christina Schwartz, Steven Stemler, Olga Stepanossova, Kristen Wendell, and Christopher Wright.

    The work reflected in this book and the book's preparation was supported by several grants: Grants REC-9979843, REC-0710915, and REC-0633952 from the National Science Foundation, the College Board, and Educational Testing Services (ETS) through Contract PO # 0000004411, Grant Award # 31–1992–701 from the United States Department of Education, Institute for Educational Sciences (as administered by the Temple University Laboratory for Student Success), Grant R206R950001 under the Javits Act Program as administered by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, and a grant from the W. T. Grant Foundation. Grantees undertaking such projects are encouraged to express freely their professional judgment. This book, therefore, does not necessarily represent the position or policies of the National Science Foundation, the College Board, Educational Testing Service, the United States Department of Education, or the W. T. Grant foundation and no official endorsement should be inferred.

    Corwin Press gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following individuals:

    William E. Doll, Jr.

    Emeritus Professor

    Louisiana State University

    Baton Rouge, LA

    Daniel Elliott


    Azusa Pacific University

    Azusa, CA

    Sharon Kane


    State University of New York at Oswego

    Oswego, NY

    Susan Leeds

    Science Educator

    Howard Middle School

    Orlando, FL

    Phyllis Milne

    Associate Director of Curriculum and Student Achievement

    York County School Division

    Yorktown, VA

    James Morrison

    Coordinator of Curriculum Development

    University of Oklahoma, College of Liberal Studies

    Norman, OK

    Alcione Ostorga

    Assistant Professor

    University of Texas, Pan American

    Edinburg, TX

    Sue Pedro

    Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction

    Washington Local Schools

    Toledo, OH

    About the Authors

    Robert J. Sternberg is Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Psychology, and Adjunct Professor of Education at Tufts University. He also is Honorary Professor of Psychology at the University of Heidelberg. Formerly, he was IBM Professor of Psychology and Professor of Management at Yale. At both Tufts and Yale, he has directed the Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise. Dr. Sternberg's PhD is from Stanford and he holds ten honorary doctorates from ten different countries. In addition, he has won more than two dozen awards for his work. He is a former president of the American Psychological Association and Eastern Psychological Association, and he has authored over 1,200 books, articles, and book chapters.

    Linda Jarvin is currently Associate Research Professor in Tufts University's Department of Education and the Deputy Director of Tufts's faculty development center (CELT). She received her PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Individual Differences from the University of Paris V (France), and completed her postdoctoral training at Yale University. Dr. Jarvin has led professional development workshops for hundreds of teachers across the United States, as well as in Europe and Africa.

    Elena L. Grigorenko received her PhD in General Psychology from Moscow State University (Russia) in 1990, and her PhD in Developmental Psychology and Genetics from Yale University in 1996. Currently, Dr. Grigorenko is Associate Professor of Child Studies, Psychology, and Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Columbia University and Moscow State University (Russia). Dr. Grigorenko has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and books. She has received many professional awards, and her research has been funded by various federal and private organizations. Dr. Grigorenko has worked with children from around the world, including those living in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

  • Answer Key

    How could you remember all twenty digits next time? One key to memorization is organization. If you look at this string of numbers (11231302928527246060), you will see that it's not a random sample of digits, but that one can find a logical pattern: In 1 year there are 12 months, comprising 31, 30, 29, or 28 days, and these days are divided into 52 weeks, each week comprising 7 days made up of 24 hours divided into 60 minutes each hour, and 60 seconds each minute. Let's try again. Can you remember this string of digits?


    Now think of the multiplication table for the number 3; keep only odd multipliers….

    ActivityMain SkillRationale
    PsychologyPracticalIn this activity you are asking students to relate knowledge to their own lives. Of course it requires some analytical and memory skills (they must first understand and then remember what “peer pressure” means); it is primarily a practical activity.
    StatisticsCreativeIn this activity you are asking students to use data in a creative way. Of course it requires some analytical skills to understand how the data can be tweaked for new uses and some practical skills to figure out how you will relate to other people and convince them of your message, but it is primarily a creative activity because students are asked to come up with novel ideas.
    GeographyMemoryYou may have thought this was an analytical activity because the instructions contain the words “compare and contrast” and “categorize,” but it is really more of a recognition memory task in which you do not have to analyze any attributes of the countries, just recognize the initial letter of their name.
    LiteratureAnalyticalIn this activity you ask students to analyze the text for temporal keys and then explain how these keys are used, so it is a high-level analytical task.
    Physical EducationMemoryIn this activity you ask students to memorize rules (not necessarily to understand them!).
    BiologyAll of the aboveThis was a bit of a trick question, because it is a complex activity that really involves all cognitive skills. You need analytical skills to research information about the creature and evaluate which facts will be pertinent to argue your case; you need memory to remember these facts in the heat of your presentation; you need practical skills to come up with arguments that will convince others of your point of view; and you need to be creative to imagine yourself as a gobi, a seahorse, or a clownfish!

    Appendix to Part I: Suggested Further Readings

    Below are suggested further readings for those who want to learn more about the Wisdom, Intelligence, and Creativity, Synthesized (WICS) model and other resources on teaching strategies.

    In the introductory section of this book, we offered a brief overview of the WICS model. After reading the summary, some of you may still say to yourself something like: “This all sounds very nice, but how does it actually work in the classroom?” In this Appendix to Part I, we provide references for some articles illustrating how we have gone about evaluating to the effectiveness of teaching students based on the WICS model, as compared with not addressing the WICS skills in the curriculum. We will also provide references to other authors’ work.

    References for Further Readings from the Pace Center
    • Sternberg, R. J., Ferrari, M., Clinkenbeard, R. P., & Grigorenko, E. L. (1996). Identification, instruction, and assessment of gifted children: A construct validation of a triarchic model. Gifted Child Quarterly, 40, 129–137.

    In this study, Sternberg and colleagues offered a summer program to high school students in which they matched students’ learning styles with the type of teaching they received, to see if students would learn better if they were taught at least some of the time in a way that enabled them to capitalize on their strengths. The motivation for the study was to show that conventional means of teaching and assessment may systematically undervalue the learning potentials of creatively and practically oriented students. These students may have the ability to perform quite well, but may achieve at lower levels than they are capable of because neither the form of instruction nor the form of assessment properly matches their pattern of strength. The authors found that students who were better matched in terms of their pattern of abilities outperformed students who were more poorly matched. This study is important because it shows that when students’ learning styles are addressed in the teaching they receive, they perform better. In most regular classrooms, however, it is not realistic to assess each individual student and to individualize the teaching. Teachers have to deal with a group of diverse students with different learning needs. The best way to reach all students then becomes broadening the teaching repertoire and offering all students a balance of memory, analytical, practical, and creative activities. This is what occurred in the next illustration.

    • Sternberg, R. J., Torff, B., & Grigorenko, E. L. (1998). Teaching for successful intelligence raises school achievement. Phi Delta Kappa, 79, 667–669.

    This article reports two studies conducted with third and eighth graders. Sternberg and colleagues showed that instruction that combines memory, analytical, practical, and creative activities is superior to other forms of instruction, regardless of students’ ability patterns. Such balanced instruction helps students both to capitalize on their strengths and to remediate and compensate for their weaknesses. In the elementary school study, students also were administered a self-assessment questionnaire in which they were asked how much they had liked the curriculum, how much they thought they had learned with the curriculum, and how well they thought they had performed with the curriculum. The students in the group that received a balanced memory, analytical, practical, creative curriculum generally gave significantly higher ratings than did the students in the other two groups, who received more typical curricula.

    • Sternberg, R. J., Grigorenko, E. L., & Jarvin, L. (2001). Improving reading instruction: The triarchic model. Educational Leadership, 58 (6), 48–52.

    This article reports on three studies that were conducted at the middle and high school levels, with a shared focus on enhancing students’ reading comprehension. As in earlier studies, the research team attempted to help teachers do better what they were already doing (i.e., teaching reading), rather than giving them a new curriculum. The goal was to supplement standard reading instruction—which included both phonic and whole-language elements—with a specific intervention balancing memory, analytical, practical, and creative skills. Teachers in the control condition were shown how to apply mnemonic strategies. Overall, the analyses showed a distinct advantage of the intervention group over the memory-based control group.

    • Grigorenko, E. L., Jarvin, L., & Sternberg, R. J. (2002). School-based tests of the triarchic theory of human intelligence: Three settings, three samples, three syllabi. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 27, 167–208.

    This article focuses on the same middle and high school studies of reading comprehension described above, but provides much more detail on the evaluation and statistical methods used to analyze the data collected.

    • Sternberg, R. J., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2007). Teaching for Successful Intelligence (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

    This book contains further examples of classroom activities and curricula.

    References to other Authors' Work

    Although the examples in this book all come from the PACE Center's work, there are many authors who have studied and written about teaching strategies and best ways to foster both analytical and creative skills in students. Below are more suggested further readings, starting with the classic works on curriculum development and ending with the most recent research-based suggestions for instruction.

    There are hundreds of books on curriculum development and curriculum reform, but three of the classics are Ralph W. Tyler's 1949 Basic Principles of Curriculum & Instruction, printed in paperback by the University of Chicago Press in 1969 and still available today; Hilda Taba's 1962 Curriculum Development: Theory and Practice, issued by Harcourt Publishing; and Elliot W. Eisner's Reimagining Schools: The Selected Works of Elliot W. Eisner, a summary of decades of his works published by Routledge in 2005. In addition to these seminal works by the authors, there are many books available about Tyler, Taba, or Eisner, just to name those. Your librarian or bookstore will be able to guide you through the wealth of resources available on curriculum development, from the more theoretical treatises to the hands-on guides.

    When it comes to learning theory and how it applies to instruction and assessment, the big classic is Benjamin S. Bloom's 1956 Taxonomyof Educational Objectives, Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain published by Longman, which nearly all (if not all) students of education will have heard of, although many will be more familiar with his work through reading about it rather than the book itself. Use any search engine on the Web and you will find hundreds of websites that discuss Bloom's taxonomy! His taxonomy has recently been revised by one of his former collaborators, Lori W. Anderson, and a colleague of hers, David R. Krathwohl in A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (2000), and this is poised to become the new reference. A more recent reference, who in many circles is as well-known to educators as Bloom, is Howard Gardner and his theory of Multiple Intelligences. The theory is most recently described in Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons, published by Perseus in 2006, and he has also written numerous books on other topics related to education, such as the role of creativity, which he discussed in the 1994 volume Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity seen through the lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi. The number of additional authors having thought and written about learning theory are too many to mention here, and if we were to try we would necessarily miss out on many important names. An education or psychology textbook might be a good place to start learning more about this broad field.

    Finally, there is an increasing interest in research-based instructional methods, and we are in no way trying to claim that we are the only ones supporting our suggestions with empirical evidence. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) publishes both journals and books on research-based instruction, such as Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement, by R. J. Marzano, D. J. Pickering, and J. F. Pollock (2004). Another good starting place for finding more resources on research-based instruction is the Department of Education Institute for Education Science (IES) online clearinghouse called What Works, see http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/.

    Appendix to Part II: Mnemonic Techniques and Strategies

    The Method of LOCI

    The method known as loci is one of the oldest mnemonic techniques known and has been used since antiquity. Roman and Greek orators were able to memorize long speeches by dividing the speech into chunks of thought and associating each thought of a speech to a place in their home (loci is Latin for places). In the method of loci, each thought is associated to a place in your house (or any other location you know well), so that when you mentally walk through the house, the thoughts come back to you. For example, the opening thought of a speech would be associated to the front door, the second thought to the entryway, the third to a piece of furniture in the entryway, and so on. When the orator wanted to remember his or her speech, thought by thought, he or she took a mental tour through his or her own home. Thinking of the front door reminded the orator of the first thought of the speech, the second “place” (the entryway) of the second thought, and so on to the end of the speech.

    Here is an illustration of the method taken from a math lesson on fractions. The same idea can be applied to any piece of information, be it in mathematics, language arts, science, social studies, or another subject area.

    The PEG System

    The principle underlying the peg system is to “peg” new facts to be remembered to a known sequence of cues. Since the cues (the pegs) are a well-known sequence, there is little risk of forgetting or leaving out a piece of information—gaps will be immediately obvious.

    The peg number system is an easy technique for remembering lists of items in a specific order. This technique helps you build up pictures in your mind, in which the numbers are represented by things that rhyme with the number, and are linked to images that represent the things to be remembered. First you have to associate each number between one and ten with a word that can be pictured. You can pick any word you like, but it is preferable that the word rhymes with, or is linked to, the number in some other fashion. For example, you can use the following words:

    • Gum
    • Shoe
    • Tree
    • Floor
    • Hive
    • Sticks
    • Heaven
    • Gate
    • Line
    • Hen

    Once you have established a firm link between the numbers and a word, you can use that word to link the new knowledge. For example, you can use the following list to remember the first ten U.S. presidents, or the sequence of experiments to be recalled for a science exam.

    Ask students to work in groups of two or three and to memorize this list of the first ten American presidents using the peg-word list above:

    Acronyms and Acrostics

    An acronym is a word formed by the initial letters of a string of words. For example, USA stands for United States of America. Another acronym is HOMES, a help to remember the names of the great lakes: Huron Ontario Michigan Erie Superior.

    Can you think of other acronyms that you use in the classroom? Write them down here:




    An acrostic is a phrase or a verse in which the first letters form the word or information you want to remember. The following example can be used in the mathematics or science classroom.

    The Link Method: Incorporating the Information to be Remembered in a Story

    The principle underlying the link method is to make associations between items in a list, for example by linking them in a story. Three “tricks” will make this strategy even more effective:

    Substitute by picturing one item instead of another.

    Exaggerate and turn the information you need to remember into something ridiculous.

    Put some Action in the story you're creating.

    Here is an example of how you can remember information by linking the different pieces of information in a story.

    A slightly different version of the link system is to put the information to be remembered in a poem that rhymes. The following example is taken from a mathematics lesson on the concept of average.

    Graphic AIDS and Organizers

    Graphic aids can be used both to organize the information to encode it more efficiently and to help retrieve the information.

    A Know-Want to Know-Learned (KWL) chart is a powerful way to organize information in a way that makes it easier to remember. The following example is taken from a lesson on Abraham Lincoln, but the same principle can be applied in any subject matter area.

    Another way to use graphic and visual aids to remember information is to play the memory game, in which a word or a fact is associated with a picture. Here is an example from a vocabulary lesson, but the same principle can be applied to any other kind of material.

    Appendix to Part III: Cross-Reference of Sample Tables

    Below is a cross-reference of sample tables arranged by grade level, content area, response format (MC for multiple-choice or OE for open-ended), and cognitive skill type assessed.

    See any blank cells? First go through the text and find examples that were not in tables to complete the grid. Then use your imagination and come up with assessment questions to complete any blank cells!


    Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., & Bloom, B. S. (2000). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.
    Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives, handbook 1: Cognitive domain. New York: Longman.
    Eisner, E. W. (2005). Reimagining schools: The selected works of Elliot W. Eisner. New York: Routledge.
    Franklin, B. (1988). Poor Richard's almanac (
    Rev. ed.
    ). White Plains, NY: Peter Pauper Press.
    Freedman, R. (1987). Lincoln: A photobiography. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
    Gardner, H. (1994). Creating minds: An anatomy of creativity seen through the lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi. New York: Basic Books.
    Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences: New horizons. New York: Perseus.
    Grigorenko, E. L., Jarvin, L., & Sternberg, R. J. (2002). School-based tests of the triarchic theory of human intelligence: Three settings, three samples, three syllabi. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 27, 167–208. http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/ceps.2001.1087
    Lee, H. (1960). To kill a mockingbird. New York: Warner Books.
    Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. F. (2004). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
    Sternberg, R. J., Ferrari, M., Clinkenbeard, R. P., & Grigorenko, E. L. (1996). Identification, instruction, and assessment of gifted children: A construct validation of a triarchic model. Gifted Child Quarterly, 40, 129–137. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/001698629604000303
    Sternberg, R. J., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2007). Teaching for successful intelligence (
    2nd ed.
    ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
    Sternberg, R. J., Grigorenko, E. L., & Jarvin, L. (2001). Improving reading instruction: The triarchic model. Educational Leadership, 58(6), 48–52.
    Sternberg, R. J., Torff, B., & Grigorenko, E. L. (1998). Teaching for successful intelligence raises school achievement. Phi Delta Kappan79, 667–669.
    Taba, H. (1962). Curriculum development: Theory and practice. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Publishing.
    Tyler, R.W. (1949). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    Wells, H. G. (1988). The island of Dr. Moreau (
    Rev. ed.
    ). New York: Penguin.

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