I came across a fascinating article that actually explains some interesting things which I’m personally noticing in my professional environment and personal life.
Below a brief but detailed summary.
The article titled “Meta-analysis: On average, undergraduate students’ intelligence is merely average” by Alex Bertrams, published on Frontiers, presents a comprehensive analysis of the intellectual capabilities of current university students. The study challenges the long-held belief that university students possess significantly higher IQs than the general population. This belief was based on outdated intelligence data from the 1940s and 1950s when university education was less accessible.
Key findings from the article include:
- Decline in average IQ: The study, which analysed IQ scores from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale between 1939 and 2022, reveals that the average IQ of undergraduate students has declined to around 102 IQ points, decreasing by approximately 0.2 points per year.
- Variation across universities: There is a notable variation in student IQs across different universities, correlating with the selectivity of the institutions (measured by average SAT scores of admitted students).
- Implications for universities and employers: The findings suggest that universities and professors need to adjust their curricula and academic standards, acknowledging that their students are now of average intelligence. Employers also cannot assume that university graduates are inherently more capable or intelligent than non-graduates.
- Changing perceptions: The study calls for a shift in how university acceptance is perceived. It is no longer an indication of joining an elite intellectual group. Additionally, the myth of the exceptionally brilliant undergraduate student needs to be dispelled.
- Inaccuracy of estimating IQ based on education: The research highlights the inaccuracy and obsolescence of estimating premorbid IQ based on educational attainment.
- Obsolete IQ data and tests: The use of outdated IQ data or tests for high-stakes decisions, such as those made by clinical psychologists about their clients’ intelligence and cognitive abilities, is discouraged.
In summary, the article emphasises that the average nature of current university students’ intelligence has shifted to mirror that of the general population. This shift is a result of the increased accessibility of higher education over the past 80 years. The findings have significant implications for educational and employment practices, as well as for the perception of university education in society.