Multiple Intelligence In 1983, Harvard University psychologist Howard Gardner proposed the multiple intelligence theory in his book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, According to Gardner, traditional views of human intelligence are too limited, and most educational assessments do not test the full range of human intelligence. He originally proposed seven different ways to measure intelligence, and later added two more for a total of nine. Gardner’s multiple intelligences include linguistic, spatial, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist and existential. To form his theory, Gardner interviewed and tested hundreds of individuals from different backgrounds and used cognitive research from the fields of biological sciences, logical analysis, developmental psychology, experimental psychology, and psychometrics. While some critics have disagreed with his ideas, the concept of multiple intelligences certainly has value in an educational setting in terms of understanding students and their learning styles. Gardner argued that most educational systems test students in terms of linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence, and are therefore not accurate in their measurements of students’ potential for learning. Applying the concepts of multiple intelligence to classroom activities can help teachers to be certain that each student has an opportunity to learn in a way that comes naturally to him/her, and when students are taught to evaluate their own intelligences they can better understan themselves and form effective study habits.
Linguistic intelligence is concerned with the meaning and order of words. People who possess this intelligence will have strong listening and speaking skills, and usually think in words. Some classroom activities that involve linguistic intelligence are telling stories, role play, creative writing, and putting words or letters in order.
Logical-mathematical intelligence has to do with using reason, logic and numbers. People with this intelligence are good at perceiving patterns in information and may ask a lot of questions. Classroom activities that highlight logical-mathematical intelligence are crossword puzzles, categorizing information and problem solving.
Spatial intelligence is about visual perception. People who are good at forming mental images to retain information and think in pictures have this kind of intelligence. Classroom activities that may interest them are using maps, watching videos, making graphs or drawing pictures.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is shown by body movements and skill in the physical world. People who have this intelligence will have good coordination and retain information more easily by physical interaction. Games that involve physical actions and activities like miming or charades would work well in a classroom with a majority of bodily-kinesthetic learners.
Musical intelligence is the ability to create and understand musical tones and rhythms. People with this ability think in sounds and rhythm patterns. Some classroom activities that could stimulate musical intelligence are singing, chanting, listening to music or playing musical instruments.
Interpersonal intelligence is about how one relates to other people. People who have this intelligence are able to see things from others’ points of view and often use both verbal and non-verbal language to communicate. Activities that use interpersonal intelligence promote cooperation among classmates, such as giving advice or role play.
Intrapersonal intelligence has to do with understanding one’s own motivations and emotions. People who possess this intelligence are good at self-reflection and accurately assessing themselves. A classroom activity that can bring out intrapersonal intelligence is self-evaluation, through discusison or survey.
Naturalist intelligence is about understanding connections in nature. People with this intelligence may show strong interest in the environment and animal or plant life. Classroom activities that focus on naturalist intelligence would involve studying natural phenomena, like a nature scavenger hunt or leaf/insect collection.
Existential intelligence involves a facility in questioning human existence. People who often consider questions about human nature and the meaning of life and death may have this intelligence. Any classroom activity that touches on subjects from philosophy or human belief systems will invoke existential intelligence, such as a debate or class discussion.
While Gardner’s multiple intelligences are difficult to distinctly identify in each particular student, it is clear that people show their intellectual abilities in different ways, and effective learning styles vary between individuals. By implementing a variety of activities that involve different intelligences, teachers can ensure a more effective learning experience for their students. When students are taught about multiple intelliegences, they can build on their own strengths and increase their sense of self-worth and confidence. On the whole, using Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory to support lesson plans and course materials can be of great benefit to both students and teachers.
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Guignon, Anne (2010). Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences: A Theory for Everyone. Education World. Web. http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr054.shtml