Intelligence as a Virtue: Peer Judgments Around Test Based Academic Performance

Summer 2017

Megan Merrick : Interdisciplinary Studies Field (Child Development and Education)

Donor: Wishek Fund
Mentor: Brian Power

How does the act of schooling impact children’s moral development? More specifically, do children equate academic intelligence to virtuous attributes? During my study, I will explore if and how 7 and 8 year olds associate high academic performance through test scores and effort level, to increased popularity, positive reviews from authority, and potential future success. Schooling reinforces the notion that intelligence for its own sake is an inherently “good” attribute, leading to success in other domains outside of academics.  I am looking to further explore how children in San Diego, California and children in Northern England judge their peers based on perceived academic ability (testing performance), and if effort plays a role when these judgments are being formed. The goal of this research is to better understand the early stigmas that are formed around academic intelligence, more specifically, exam performance. If educators better understand the ways in which young children judge their peers based on academic performance, they can work to better educate students that test performance does not define their potential abilities in any realm of life.

Thank you so much to the Wishek Fund for sponsoring my SURF fellowship this summer. It was an incredible experience to be able to take charge and follow through with my own research concept this summer. I managed to conduct over 130 interviews in two countries. During this process I gained a great deal of confidence and understanding about the research as I pushed my own abilities to accomplish this goal. Additionally, this experience reaffirmed my love of educational psychology! I cannot wait to pursue higher education in the field and continue to grow my love of research. This dream would not have been possible without your generous contribution! Thank you!