Structure of Intellect (SOI)

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Structure of Intellect (SOI)

The Structure of Intellect is a theory of human intelligence that was developed from 1945 to 1965 by Dr J. P. Guilford and his colleagues at the University of Southern California. The SOI is the application of the Structure of Intellect theory to various learning situations. It has been in continuous use and development from past 60 years down today identifying 90 potential abilities.

Structure of Intellect (SOI) is a system of assessments and training materials that develop intellectual abilities. We equip students with the necessary intellectual skills to learn subject matter, do analytical thinking, become more creative, and learning how to learn.

If a student is having difficulty learning, the cause could be a lack of learning/intellectual abilities. SOI has developed diagnostic tests and programs to meet the thinking, reasoning, and intellectual needs for these students.

The process of SOI

Assessment: The SOI test will identify the student’s learning abilities. Tests are appropriate for ages five through adult.

Diagnosis: An analysis is generated based on the student’s test scores. It profiles the following areas: cognition, evaluation, memory, creativity, and problem-solving.

Treatment : Personalized training materials in the form of paper-pencil and/or computer are available based on the student’s test results. Low abilities are targeted at the beginning of the program and average to high abilities are further strengthened.

The Beginnings of SOI

  • During the war in the 1940s, the US was spending huge amounts of money in searching for talent and army men across the country
  • These men were of extremely high calibre, IQ at least 120, perfect vision and perfect health.
  • However, these elite men were still getting washed out and could not pass the training phase of the Air Corps.
  • Guilford, who was a Psychometrician, and specialized in understanding human intelligence was engaged to investigate the reasons why so many outstanding talents were not making the cut.
  • Guilford and his team took the men and grouped them into 2 groups – the group that made it through the training, and the group that did not.
  • He then went on to test the subjects in these 2 groups, to attempt to find the discriminating factors (or the factors that differentiated the 2 groups).
  • Based on the preliminary investigation, they found enough factors that made the 2 groups quite different (intellectually).
  • And from that, they devised a paper-pencil test that would serve as a screening tool for the Air Corp that would help identify those cadets that would more likely make the cut, and reject those that showed up intellectually unable on the test.
  • Based on the screening test, the drop-out rate reduced from more than 1 in 3 to less than 1 in 10.
  • And due to the great success in the screening tool, Guilford was funded for the next 20 years to research and understand the make-up of the human intellect.
  • And from the results of his research, a model for human intellect or intelligence was formed its application on learning & education.
  • Fast forward to the 1960s; Guilford had a student in his doctoral class. Mary Meeker was a school psychologist working with students, and she realized that if as adults, we require specific skills to perform at different jobs then it would also be applicable to learning – that students would require specific skills to perform at different learning tasks.
  • She began to design tests that were geared towards understanding the learning ability of students and based on the test, we could now understand the learning strengths and weaknesses of each individual.
  • And understand the reasons behind why a child is careless, why they can’t pay attention, why they forget instructions, why they forget what they have learnt, yet seem quick to understand what we are explaining, etc.
  • Beyond these tests, Mary also designed modules that would provide solutions to the identified weaknesses
  • So they no longer needed to passively accept that a child is forgetful and therefore we cannot help to improve his capacity for learning.
  • But, rather, now as teachers, parents and educators, we can have an active and positive approach where we can use our understanding of the child’s profile and help target the areas that need improvement.


Dr. Mary Meeker



Dr. J. P. Guilford

Just Beyond IQ

  • Several decades ago, most people understood and accepted intelligence through a person’s IQ score. A person with 120 IQ was supposed to be ‘smarter’ than a person with an IQ of just 100. Smarter in which ways or in which areas? We have no way of proving this.
  • Does it mean that the person with a 100 IQ was more incapable of learning as compared to the 120? And therefore should be expected to be less successful? The IQ score was and still is a very narrow way of perceiving and understanding our brain and intelligence which is definitely way more complex to be summarized into a 2-digit 3-digit number.
  • With the SOI, we can understand why 1 student can read well but cannot comprehend fully, while the other displays higher level of understanding but needs to be read to.
  • Or why some students can grasp math’s concepts quickly, but makes a ton of careless mistakes when solving the questions?
  • With the SOI, we move beyond just a label of a score

The Importance of our Intellect

  • The performance and ability of our cognitive skills affect us throughout our lifespan and different phases of our lives.
  • From learning to identifying objects as a toddler to learning to speak or read, to learning to count and understand math’s concepts, to deciding which course of studies to pursue in our higher education, to the jobs and careers we choose and also to our daily lives.
  • It also affects the decisions we make, the way we communicate, the way we perceive and understand things, the way we remember, etc.
  • For example, when we go to a restaurant and we look at a menu. Our cognitive profile also plays a part in how we look through the menu and decide what to order (Hand out a menu and ask participants to think about the process of how they review the menu and how they arrive at a choice.
  • Some people will look at the pictures to decide if the dish will taste good, some people will read through the description of the ingredients or the method of cooking, and imagine how the dish will taste. And some people will compare the prices of 2 similar dishes and find out what is different before they make their choice.
  • There is a reason behind how we make that choice.
  • Having a good understanding of our intellect, and the intellect of the people whom we interact with; will help us to make better decisions for ourselves and also help us to understand better why someone else does things in a different way than us.

Advantages for Learning Disabilities

SOI for Learning Disability:

SOI helps in identifying students at risk for school success. SOI is a broad-spectrum test measuring 27 different abilities. These tests are used as a part of the selection/nomination process. The advantages are of performing SOI Tests are:

SOI for Learning Disabled :

  • You gain information about which of the 27 learning abilities are undeveloped
  • You see which abilities are developing
  • You receive a plan for correcting deficiencies
  • Learning disabilities are defined as the absence of learning abilities.
  • SOI diagnostics tell you which learning abilities are deficient
  • SOI diagnostics tell you how to correct deficiencies by teaching through strengths

SOI makes a difference :

Many studies show how SOI can make a difference. Perhaps the most dramatic one was done at the University Heights School in Seattle, Washington. In that program, students were not performing good in all areas. Some were LD, LLD, ED, and Dyslexic, yet they gained an average of 14.7 IQ points (as measured by the WISC-R) and showed a language gain of 2.6 stanines. In the second year, the students made an average gain of 11IQ points. Thus, over the two years, the students made an average gain of 25 IQ points, compared with the usual LD programs in which students typically lose about 5 IQ points and make no appreciable gain in language performance.

Uniqueness of SOI:

SOI training materials are designed specifically to teach students with learning disabilities and optimize learning and cognitive growth. SOI defines learning disabilities as the lack of learning abilities, so the focus is on developing learning skills that help form the foundation for academic learning.

  • SOI materials improve cognitive abilities. SOI materials have been in use for over 15 years in schools and educational clinics
  • SOI materials exactly match the SOI profile; materials are more focused for specific training to address the specific needs of the learning disabled
  • SOI materials teach in each of these content areas: Figural(spatial), Symbolic (notational), and semantic (verbal)
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