Psychologist Robert Sternberg | Courtesy of UofL

The final 2018 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award has been announced. Professor Robert Sternberg of Cornell University has been awarded the Grawemeyer Award for Psychology for his work in creating the concept of “successful intelligence.”

Sternberg is a professor of human development and has previously taught at Yale, Tufts and Oklahoma State. His work focuses on how the current educational system focuses on traditional learners and measures students with narrowly defined and limiting testing that neglects other expressions of intelligence — like creativity and common-sense practical skills.

In his website bio, Sternberg writes:

“If I have one passion in my work, it is to see changes in the ways in which we teach and test our children. Our educational system is very much oriented to favor traditional learners — those who are good memorizers and good at analytical reasoning. The educational system is not particularly oriented toward nontraditional learners who might be more creative or practical in their orientation, or who have learning styles other than one that soaks in what teachers and textbooks say and then repeats it all back (sometimes, but not always, in the students’ own words).”

Sternberg is critical of current tests like the ACT and SAT that are said to help determine a student’s college-readiness but neglect non-traditional learners.

“Sternberg’s work has resulted in changes in college admission processes that have leveled the playing field for individuals from diverse backgrounds and, thus, has increased student diversity,” said Professor Woody Petry, Grawemeyer Award director and a faculty member of UofL’s department of psychological and brain sciences, in a news release. “His ideas, which have been applied globally in developed and developing nations, emphasize the importance of cultural context in the assessment of successful intelligence.”

Sternberg has work in more than 1,700 professional publications and 13 honorary doctorates.

The Grawemeyer Awards honor recipients who embody the passions of H. Charles Grawemeyer, a Louisville entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. Grawemeyer established the awards in 1984 to celebrate, inspire and nurture achievements in music composition, education, religion, psychology and ideas improving world order.

The 2018 winners will present free lectures about their award-winning ideas when they visit Louisville in April to accept their $100,000 prizes.

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