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- Weslayan University, Mathematics (B.A., 1931)
- Columbia University, Psychology (M.A., 1932; Ph.D., 1935)
- Asst. Professor of Psychology, George Washington University (1934-1936)
- Asst. Professor of Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University
- Associate Professor, Teachers College, Columbia University (1940-1948)
- Professor of Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia
- President, Psychometric Society (1953)
- Board of Directors, American Psychological Association (1958-1961)
- President, American Educational Research Association (1974-1975)
- Prediction of future vocational success based on the differentiation
of intellectual abilities
- Cognitive Ability Test
Ideas and Interests
Thorndike followed his father, E. L. Thorndike,
into the field of educational psychology by specializing in psychometrics.
He used factor analysis in order to separate out differing abilities in
the learning of rats (animals were the subject of his doctoral thesis).
Thorndike then used these techniques in the study of human skills and
As an Air Force major and psychometrician during World War II, Thorndike
addressed the problem of multiple sources of error that made tests and
criteria of pilot and bombadier performance unstable. His developing expertise
in the analysis of multiple abilities enabled him to identify the weaknesses
of tests of aircrew performance, and to devise more subtle techniques
(Personnel Selection... 1949).. The analysis of reliability showed
thel hallmarks of Thorndike's style: identification of confusion about
a fundamental topic, orderly and pioneering reconceptualization, and clear
exposition. The differentiation of abilities for long term prediction
proved limited, however, and he began to place more reliance on global
In 1954, Thorndike published (with Irving Lorge) a group test of mental
abilites for use in schools, which eventually became the Cognitive Ability
Test (developed with Elizabeth Hagan). The aim was to produce a battery
of tests, and to generate a profile of intelligence rather than just an
IQ. Thorndike expressed great respect for the detailing of mental processes
in cognitive psychology, which can assist in fine-grained remedial instruction.
The Cognitive Ability Test met high standards, but the four components
of the profile could not be reliably separated. Eventually, Thorndike
came to conclude that general cognitive ability is indeed more important
that he and many others had supposed.
Throndike's ultimate brilliance was evidencd in his ability to see the
faults in a test, and redesign it in an original fashion.
- Personnel Selection: Test and Measurement Techniques (1949)
- 10,000 Careers (1955)
- Concepts of Over- and Under-Achievement (1964)
- Measurement and Evaluation in Psychology and Education (1977)
- Applied Psychometrics (1982)
References: 37, 41
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16 May 2013