Date of Award

Summer 1976

Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Pambookian, Hagop

Second Advisor

Nordberg, R. B.


A primary function of the school psychologist is to evaluate the level of intellectual functioning of a child thought to need special education programming. Two major instruments often used for this purpose are the StanfordBinet Intelligence Scale and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (hereafter referred to as the WISC-R). To effectively interpret these tests it is crucial that the psychologist possess a theoretical understanding of the nature of intelligence which he can apply to test item-response and other observational data. Perhaps the foremost theoretician concerning the nature of intelligence is the developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget. Piaget maintains that intelligence is composed of two invariant, life-long functions: organization and adaptation. His theory of intelligence explains intellectual growth as an evolution through four major stages of cognitive development from birth through adolescence. To facilitate a greater theoretical understanding of the nature of intelligence and richer diagnostic test interpretation, this essay attempts to fulfill two objectives: a) to present Piaget's theory of intelligence as it relates to the four stages of cognitive development, and b) to apply this theory to the test items of the Stanford-Binet and the WISC-R. The first part of the essay describes Piaget's concept of intelligence and the essential characteristics of the four stages of cognitive development, while the second part of the essay deals with the practical applications of Piaget's theory for the school psychologist.