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An Evaluation of Teacher Training for Triarchic Instruction and Assessment

Robert J. Sternberg

Math, Reading, Science

Key Research Question & Theory Examined. Our aim is to show, on a large scale, that cognitive principles can successfully be applied to improve education through the development of an infused curriculum and limited teacher training. Specifically, we aim to show that triarchic (analytical, practical, creative) teaching can easily be implemented in classrooms and lead to superior student outcomes than does teaching for conventional (memory-based) or critical thinking (analytical) skills. Triarchic teaching is based on Sternberg s theory of Successful Intelligence.

Sample description. We have trained over 300 teachers from 9 states (AL, CA, CT, KS, MA, MN, NC, SC, WV). These teachers represent varied geographical (urban, suburban, rural), socio-economical (as determined by the percentage of free and reduced lunches), and ethnic-composition (majority African-American, majority Hispanic or majority White) schools. In year 1 of the program, approximately 8,500 student assessments were collected from 1,770 students. In year 2, approximately 12,000 student assessments were collected from 4,385 students.

Research design and measures. The research design compared three modes of instruction (Independent Variables): (1) triarchic (experimental) instruction, (2) critical-thinking (analytical) instruction, and (3) conventional (memory-based) instruction. In each one of the three subject areas (language arts, mathematics, and science) we developed a pre-test and a post-test to be administered before and after the implementation of each curriculum unit (Thus, student performance on pre- and post-tests are our Dependent Variables). Students' performance at the pre-test and post-test across the three design groups were compared by the means of multivariate analyses of variance and repeated measures analyses of variance.

In addition, student baseline achievement was assessed and student and teacher motivational data was collected.

Analysis. Assessments include multiple-choice and open-ended questions, which are rated by specifically trained raters. The initial (preliminary) analyses show that mean reliability exceeded .80 for pre-test and post-test assessments, and support internal validity of our measures. Analyses of mathematics assessments indicate that after controlling for differences in initial ability, the triarchic condition resulted in higher mean achievement when compared to the critical thinking condition, but not the memory condition. For language- arts assessments, students in the triarchic condition had higher mean achievement than students in the memory condition, and marginally superior mean achievement relative to students in the critical-thinking condition.

Scale-up Issues. Our program is designed to show that triarchic teaching can easily be implemented in classrooms across subject matter areas, types of communities, socio-economic levels, and for a variety of student populations. We have developed an easily manageable ACCESS-based database and a procedure manual for managing large-scale databases.

Current status of the project. We are currently in the third year of classroom implementation and data-collection. Data collected from years 1 and 2 are being analyzed.

Sternberg, R. J. (2000). Identifying and developing creative giftedness. Roeper Review, 23(2), 60-64.

Sternberg, R. J. (2000). In search of the zipperump-a-zoo: Half a career spent trying to find the right questions to ask about the nature of human intelligence. The Psychologist, 13(5), 250-255.

Sternberg, R. J. (2000). The theory of successful intelligence. Gifted Education International, 15(1), 4-21.

Sternberg, R. J. (2000). Teaching psychology students about creativity as a decision. Psychology Teaching Review, 9(2), 111-118.

Sternberg, R. J. (2001). Giftedness as developing expertise: A theory of the interface between high abilities and achieved excellence. High Ability Studies, 12(2), 159-179

Sternberg, R. J. (2001). How intelligent are schools? Review of K. Leithwood (Ed.), Understanding schools as intelligent systems. Issues in Education, 7(1), 131-135.

Sternberg, R. J. (2001). How wise is it to teach for wisdom? A reply to five critiques. Educational Psychologist, 36(4), 269-272.

Sternberg, R. J. (2001). Teaching psychology students that creativity is a decision. The General Psychologist, 36(1), 8-11.

Sternberg, R. J. (2001). Why schools should teach for wisdom: The balance theory of wisdom in educational settings. Educational Psychologist, 36(4), 227-245.

Sternberg, R. J. (2001). Wisdom and education. Perspectives in Education,19(4), 1-16.

Sternberg, R. J., Grigorenko, E. L. (2001). All testing is dynamic testing. Issues in Education, 7(2), 137-170.

Sternberg, R. J., Grigorenko, E. L. (2001). The truth can now be told. This whole exchange is one big dynamic test! Issues in Education, 7(2), 251-260.

Sternberg, R. J., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2001). Unified psychology. American Psychologist, 56(12), 1069-1079

Sternberg, R. J., Grigorenko, E. L., Kalmar, D. A. (2001). The role of theory in unified psychology. The Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 21(2), 99-117.

Sternberg, R. J. (2001). Measuring the intelligence of an idea: How intelligent is the idea of emotional intelligence? In J. Ciarrochi, J. Forgas, & J. D. Mayer (Eds.), Emotional intelligence in everyday life (pp. 187-194). Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.

Sternberg, R. J. & Jarvin, L. (2001). Binet, Alfred (1857-1911). In N. J. Smelser & P. B. Baltes (Eds.), International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences. Oxford: Elsevier Science Ltd.

Sternberg, R. J. (2001). Dr. Jekyll meets Mr. Hyde: Two faces of research on intelligence and cognition In J. S. Halonen & S. F. Davis (Eds.). The many faces of psychological research in the 21st century (chap. 6). Retrieved December 12, 2001 from

Sternberg, R. J. (2001). The search for criteria: Why study the evolution of intelligence? In R. J. Sternberg, & Kaufman, J. C. (Eds.). The evolution of intelligence. (pp. 1-7). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Sternberg, R.J., & Grigorenko E. L. (2001) Degree of embeddedness of ecological systems as a measure of ease of adaptation to the environment. In E. L. Grigorenko & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.). Family environment and intellectual functioning: A life-span perspective (243-262). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Sternberg, R. J. (2001). What is the common thread of creativity? Its dialectical relation to intelligence and wisdom. In R. J. Sternberg & N. Dess, (Eds.), Special section of American Psychologist on creativity, 56(4), 360-362.

Leighton, J. P., Sternberg R. J. (2002). Thinking about reasoning: Is knowledge power? The Korean Journal of Thinking and Problem Solving, 12(1), 5-25.

Sternberg, R. J., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2002). Difference scores in the identification of children with learning disabilities: It s time to use a different method. Journal of School Psychology, 40(1), 65-83.

Sternberg, R. J., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2002). Just because we know it s true doesn t mean it s really true: A case study in Kenya. Psychological Science Agenda, 15(2), 8-10.

Sternberg. R. J. (2002). Review of Essential Cognitive Psychology, by Alan J. Parkin. Intelligence, 30(2), 218-219.

Sternberg, R. J. (2002). Beyond g: The theory of successful intelligence. In R. J. Sternberg, & E. L. Grigorenko (Eds.), The general factor of intelligence: How general is it? Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Sternberg, R. J. (2002). The growth of intelligence in infancy. In M. Lewis & A. Slater (Eds.), Introduction to infant development. New York: Oxford University Press.

Sternberg, R. J. (2002). Smart people are not stupid, but they sure can be foolish: The imbalance theory of foolishness. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Why smart people can be so stupid. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Sternberg, R. J., Grigorenko, E. L. (2002) The theory of successful intelligence as a basis for instruction and assessment in higher education. In D. Halpern, & M. Hakel (Eds.). Applying the science of learning to university teaching and beyond: New directions for teaching and learning, No. 89. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Williams, W.M., Sternberg, R.J. (2002). How parents can maximize children s cognitive abilities. In M. Borstein (Ed.), Handbook of Parenting, (Vol. 5): Practical Issues in Parenting. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Books or other non-periodical, one-time publications
E. L. Grigorenko & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.). Family environment and intellectual functioning: A life-span perspective (243-262). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Sternberg, R. J. (Ed.). (2002). Why smart people can be so stupid. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Sternberg, R. J., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2002). Dynamic testing. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sternberg, R. J., & Grigorenko E. L. (Eds.). (2002). The general factor of intelligence: How general is it? Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Sternberg, R. J., Kaufman, J. C., & Pretz, J. E. (2002). The creativity conundrum: A propulsion model of kinds of creative contributions. New York: Psychology Press.

Two Internet sites were created as a result of this project. The first is a site to promote the project and inform interested teachers and district administrators. It describes the project and lists all the team members collaborating on the project. The url is

The second is the CORE site, which has been created to provide teachers participating in the program with downloadable curriculum materials, chat-rooms for exchanges with other teachers, subject area-specific list-serves, and on-line assistance from curriculum developers. The CORE site is password protected and only accessible to participating teachers, but at the completion of the program all the materials that have been developed will be made accessible to the public free of charge.