Black History: Special Delivery!!

Dr. Florence Goodenough

Dr. Florence Goodenough was a trailblazing pioneer in the field of intelligence testing for children.  She is perhaps most well known for her “Draw-A-Man” test; which was non-verbal too used to measure intelligence.

Born in 1886 in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, Goodenough was an African American Psychologist. She was the youngest of 9 children.  Her parents were farmers. Goodenough obtained her Bachelors Degree in 1908 from Millersville Pennsylvania Normal School. She then attended Columbia University where she graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in 1920 and an M.A. in 1921.   She then worked in several public schools as the director of research (school psychologist). Goodenough later obtained her Ph.D at Stanford. She was heavily involved in Lewis Terman’s giftedness research and was a significant contributor to the work. She graduated from Stanford in 1924. She accepted a position at the Institute of Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota. Goodenough remained at the University of Minnesota until her retirement in 1947.

It was at the University of Minnesota that Goodenough developed the “Draw-a-Man Test” for children used to measure intelligence. Goodenough’s test expanded and improved upon previous nonverbal tests. The Draw A Man test was for children ages 2-13 and took 10 minutes to administer. It was considered to have high reliability as well. Goodenough felt that through the test, cognitive development could be determined.

Goodenough published the test in her book, Measurement of Intelligence. The test became very popular and was actively used for decades. The test was revised by one of her graduate students, Dale Harris in 1963. Harris added a companion “Draw-A-Woman” Test. The test is now known as the Goodneough-Harris drawing test and remains in wide use today. Goodenough also expanded more traditional intelligence tests for children. Her work on the Stanford Binet Scale allowed the test to be used with younger children. Her research and testing efforts would result in the development of the Minnesota Preschool Scale.

Goodenough’s largest impact on the field of psychology was her development of event sampling. With event sampling, the observer calculates the number of times a particular event occurs and its associated behaviors. She found sampling especially helpful for laypersons (example: Parents). Goodenough believed maturation rather than the environment was more instrumental in the emotional development of children. She would change perspective in later years. Although much of her work focused on intelligence testing, she was critical of the use of ratio IQ. Later in life, she suffered from an illness that caused the loss of her sight and hearing. As a result she retired early in 1947. She learned Braille and continued writing, publish 3 more books from her home before her death. She died of a stroke in 1959 at age 73.