Short historical overview
It has been possible to measure intelligence and other cognitive skills in a standardised manner since Alfred Binet published his first intelligence test at the beginning of the 20th century. A large variety of instruments to measure intelligence or academic skills have been developed over the past century. These instruments – tests – are all static, and measure the cognitive performance of a child at a particular point in time, or after being taught certain skills or knowledge, measuring the abilities, skills, and knowledge a child has acquired or developed. Learning ability or learning potential is measured only indirectly and to a limited extent. This wasn’t, however, all Binet’s doing, as he was the one who defined intelligence as “the ability to learn”.
Dynamic testing originated from, amongst other sources, the theory of Russian psychologist Vygotsky, who noted that in interaction with adults children were capable of larger learning performances, and also showed large individual differences. He stated that a child imitates the acts of an adult, and in this manner gradually develops the ability to execute certain tasks or acts independently. The difference between what a child can do independently, and what a child can do with help from others is called the zone of proximal development.