Terman Lewis Madison was known for his research on intelligence, and in particular on the gifted. He translated the Binet test of intelligence into English, Psychology Intelligence Test set new age norms and standardized the scores. His version came to be called the Stanford-Binet test. Lewis Terman grew up in rural Indiana, where he was the 12th of 14 children, from a prosperous farming family. Terman received a BS from a local teachers’ college, MA from Indiana University, and his Ph.D. from Clark University in Massachusetts.
His dissertation was n comparing mental and physical abilities of children from different ability groups. Terman worked as a high school principal and then as a professor at teachers’ college. In 1910, Stanford offered him a job in the Department of Education. Terman later transferred to the psychology department which he chaired for 20 years. He wrote the book “The Measurement of Intelligence”. Working with other psychologists during World War I, Terman was largely responsible for the first notable group intelligence tests, the Army Alpha and the Army Beta.
Terman also published the Terman Group Test of Mental Ability in 1920, and he co-authored the Stanford Achievement Test, which was revised many times and continued to be widely used in the 1980′s. Terman defined intelligence as “the ability to carry on abstract thinking” and used the label IQ or Intelligence Quotient. Terman’s studies undoubtedly are still the most recognized and frequently quoted research on the gifted children. His last progress report on this continuing study was The Gifted Child Grows Up (1947). Among Terman’s most interesting findings from his study of the development of gifted children were that they tended to be healthier and more stable emotionally than the average children.
He said that gifted children excelled in measures of academic achievement. He found that gifted children did not fit the existing stereotypes often associated with them: they were not weak and sickly social misfits, but in fact were generally taller, in better health, better developed physically, and better adapted socially than other children. He was the psychologist who developed some of the earliest and most successful measures of individual differences. Terman believed that mental abilities were primarily a product of heredity. As a result of his research with the gifted, Terman devoted the latter part of his career to assessing non-intellectual personality traits. He also produced the first questionnaire to measure masculinity and faminity. The test reflected the gender norms of the 1930′s. he emphasized to educate the girls and boys so that they would confirm to the existing gender norms.
Terman’s contributions to the development of testing and the study of the intellectually gifted ensure his position as one of the pioneers of American psychology. He believed that IQ was inherited and was the strongest predictor of one’s ultimate success in life.