Theory and Application of Multiple Intelligences

Incorporation of Multiple Intelligences Theory approaches in the classroom has major implications in how an educator approaches instructional tasks. Multiple Intelligences Theory is learner centered, shifting from a ‘one size fits all’ to a learning paradigm in which instruction is student centered and directed to the strengths of each student in a class. Some time. Over time advances have been made in identifying and quantifying ways to test intelligence and recognize the many different types of intelligences that people possess.

Howard Gardner, of Harvard University has demonstrated that there re, in fact, nine different ways that people think. Gardner refers to these different mindsets as intelligences. The use of his Multiple Intelligences Theory in classrooms has a powerful impact in the methods that instructional material is delivered. Consequently, this affects student mastery of instructional material. Howard Gardener’s theory of Multiple Intelligences utilizes aspects of cognitive and developmental psychology, anthropology and sociology to explain the human intellect.

Gardener’s theory challenges traditional, narrower views of intelligence. Gardner believed intelligence encompasses the ability to create and solve problems, rate products or provide services which are valued within a culture or society (Chipolata, 2010). According to Gardener’s theory, all human beings possess all nine intelligences in varying degrees. Every individual has a different intelligence profile. Education can be improved by assessment of students’ intelligence profiles and designing activities accordingly. Each intelligence occupies a different area of the brain.

All nine of the intelligences may operate in consort or independently from one another. Subsequently, these nine intelligences may define the human species (Gardner, 1993). To be able to use this theory in their classrooms, educators must understand the individual intelligences. Gardner identifies the nine following intelligences: Verbal/ Linguistic, Logical/Mathematical, Visual/Spatial, Bodily/Kinesthesia, Naturalistic, Musical, Interpersonal, Interpersonal and Existential. Verbal/Linguistic intelligence refers to an individual’s ability to understand and manipulate words and languages.

This includes reading, writing, speaking and other kinds of verbal and written communication. Authors, Journalists, poets, orators and comedians are obvious examples of people dominant in this intelligence. Some real life examples are T. S. Elliot, Maya Angelo and Martin Luther King Jar. (Giles, 2010). Logical/Mathematical intelligence refers to an individual’s ability to manipulate facts and data. Individuals are able to reason and calculate and think things through in a logical, systematic manner. These are the kinds of skills highly developed in engineers, scientists, economist, accountants and detectives.

Some real life examples of people who are gifted with this intelligence are Albert Einstein, Niles Boor and John Dewey (Farman, 2009). Visual/Spatial intelligence refers to the ability to form and manipulate a mental del, to think in pictures and visualize a future result. This is to imagine things in your mind’s eye. They make good architects, sculptors, sailors, photographers and strategic planners. You use it when you have a sense of direction, when you navigate or draw. Pablo Picasso, Bobby Fischer and Georgia O’ Kef are all examples of people gifted with this intelligence (Giles, 2010).

Bodily/Kinesthesia intelligence refers to people who process information through the sensations they feel in their bodies. This is the ability to use your body skillfully to solve problems, create products, or present ideas and emotions. This is an ability obviously displayed for athletic pursuits, dancing, acting, or in building and construction. Many people do not appropriately recognize that this form of intelligence is of equal value to the other intelligences. Some examples of people gifted with this intelligence include Michael Jordan and Martina Invitational (Giles, 2010).

Naturalistic intelligence is seen in someone who recognizes and classifies plants, animals and minerals including a mastery of taxonomies. They notice natural and artificial taxonomies such as dinosaurs to algae and cars to clothes. Farmers, tannins, conservationists, biologists and environmentalist all display dominance in this intelligence. Charles Darwin and John Mir are examples of people gifted with this intelligence (Giles, 2010). Musical intelligence refers to the ability to understand, create and interpret musical pitches, timbre, rhythm and tones. It also includes the capability to compose music.

This is a gift enjoyed by musicians, composers and recording engineers. However, most people have a musical intelligence which can be developed. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Louis Armstrong are examples of people who are strong in this intelligence (Giles, 2010). Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to interpret and respond to the moods, emotions, motivations and actions of others. This is the ability to work well with others, relating well to other people. People gifted with this intelligence display empathy, understanding and carefully are aware of others motivations and goals.

This vital human intelligence can be displayed by effective teachers, facilitators, therapists, politicians, religious leaders and sales people. Some examples of people gifted with this intelligence included Gandhi, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton (Giles, Interpersonal intelligence, simply put, is the ability to know oneself. This is the ability to quietly contemplate and assess one’s accomplishments, to review one’s behavior and innermost feelings and to make plans and set goals. Philosophers, counselors and many peak performers in all fields of endeavor are gifted with this intelligence.

Authors of classic autobiographies such as Jean- Paul Sartre and Frederick Douglas are good examples of people dominant in this intelligence (Giles, Existential intelligence encompasses the ability to pose and ponder questions regarding the mere existence of life and death. Existentialists frequently question the meaning of life itself. This intelligence would be in the domain of philosophers and religious leaders such as Nietzsche and Jesus. A key factor to incorporating Multiple Intelligences Theory into curricula is a teacher’s awareness of how to recognize the different intelligences in their students.

This can be done by simply testing the students using one of the many tests that have been developed and can be found at various places on the Internet (Farman, 2009). I recently have taken one such test and found that I scored highly in Interpersonal and Naturalistic intelligences. There are several ways to incorporate Multiple Intelligences Theory into classrooms, although creativity is encouraged and there is no set way to do so. Some educators set up learning centers with resources and materials that promote involvement using the different intelligences. Other teachers design real life scenarios for student immersion.

Teachers may also use project-based and collaborative learning to easily integrate into Multiple Intelligences into lessons. Teachers should not attempt to teach all of the different intelligences that they might find in a classroom at once. Teachers should aspire to vary their instruction. There are many different activities that can used in the classroom to attempt to reach as many students over the long run as is possible. Teachers who are cognitively aware that students possess more than one intelligences and vary activities accordingly give students a chance of strengthening one or more intelligences (Campbell, 2004).

Howard Gardner believes that the ideal school of the future would be based on two assumptions. First, not all people have the same interest and abilities. All people do not learn in the same way. The second assumption is that no one person is palpable of learning everything there is to learn. This individual-centered school would be rich in assessment of individual abilities and proclivities. It would seek to match individuals not only to curricular areas, but also to particular ways of teaching those subjects.

Also, after the first few grades, the school would seek to match individuals with the various kinds of life and work options that are available in their culture (Gardner, 1993). Over the years, there have been many studies conducted to test the implementation of Gardener’s theory in educational settings. One such study was conducted by Dry. Bruce Campbell in Marseille, Washington in 2009. He organized a third grade classroom into seven learning centers, each dedicated to a different intelligence. The students were required to spend approximately two-thirds of the school day moving through different centers spending 15-20 minutes at each.

The curriculum was thematic, and each center provided different ways for the students to learn the subject matter (Campbell, 2012). Dry. Campbell would begin each day with a brief lecture and discussion explaining one aspect of a current subject. After the morning lectures, he had the students tart working at the centers, eventually rotating through all seven. The students would learn the lesson of the day in seven ways. They built models, danced, made collaborative decisions, created songs, solved deductive reasoning problems, read, wrote and illustrated all in one school day (Campbell, 2012).

This research project was conducted over the school year and the data revealed that the students developed increased responsibility, self-direction and independence over the course of the year. Discipline problems were significantly reduced and all students developed and applied new skills. Also, cooperative learning skills improved in all students as well as overall academic achievement. The reasons for the academic and behavioral improvements appear to be attributed to the fact that each student had the opportunity to specialize and excel in at least one area. Also, many students stated they enjoyed school for the first time.

Lastly, students developed responsibility, self-reliance and independence as they took an active role in shaping their individual learning experiences (Campbell, 2012). Another study conducted by researchers Robert Mac Ketene, Erik Arbitration and Michael Kerned looked at the use of Multiple Intelligences in virtual and traditional skill instructional learning environments. The purpose of this investigation was to examine (a) how Multiple Intelligences strengths correlate to learning in virtual and traditional environments and (b) the effectiveness of learning with and without an authority figure in attendance.

Sixty-nine participants were randomly assigned to four groups, administered the Multiple Intelligences Developmental Assessment Scales, were taught to fly cast and were assessed on skill, form and accuracy. Results room this investigation imply that participants who score high in Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence will be more likely to excel in virtual environments for tasks that require skill and accuracy, whereas when tasks require extensive form acquisition components the traditional classroom environment will most likely be more effective (McKenna, Arbitration and Kerned, 2010).

Additionally, the results of this investigation suggested that a virtual learning environment was better suited for students whose multiple intelligence strengths are Verbal/Linguistic, Bodily/Kinesthesia Intelligence and Musical/Rhythmical. However, hen an authority figure was present during a virtual learning environment, performance of students with Bodily/Kinesthesia, Logical/Mathematical and Interpersonal strengths decreased. The decrease of skill acquisition implied that these individuals may excel in unsupervised distance and/or virtual learning environments.

Students with strengths in naturalist and Visual/Spatial Intelligences were given no instructional support and their actual skill retention negatively correlated over test trials. This implies that these students will continue to show decrements in learning unless provided facilitation support. Students with interpersonal strengths learn more effectively in a traditional environment, especially when the acquisition of appropriate form is essential. Additionally, traditional learning correlated with more Multiple Intelligences than either of the virtual learning environment groups (McKenna, Arbitration and Kerned, 2010).

Recently a study was conducted in Malaysia where teachers had adopted a Multiple Intelligences approach to teaching in order to meet the needs of a diverse range of students. The findings of the research concluded that secondary school teachers should emphasize more on interpersonal teaching styles, as many learning activities conducted in school involve student to student and teacher to student interaction. Primary school teachers should focus more on musical teaching styles, as a great deal of learning activities in primary schools are based on music and rhythms.

Also, it was recommended that by organizing their lessons based on the theory, teachers are able to help students to learn new skills better and effectively (sultana, 2011). When incorporating Multiple Intelligences Theory into curriculum one must consider assessments. Traditionally, assessments have limited learners to pencil and paper tests as the primary means of demonstrating knowledge and skills. Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences Theory brings an awareness of several assessment strategies which allow students to show they understand and can use new information in unique ways.

New assessments should not focus on whether or not students can acquire knowledge, but on whether or not they can acquire the disposition to use skills and strategies appropriately. Assessment alternatives can include logs and journals, graphic organizers, observational checklists, video samples, rubrics, miscue analyses and portfolios. Such alternatives offer students the potential to demonstrate learning content in a variety of ways (Stanford, 2003). The goal of the educational system is to teach students. One of the best ways to teach is to vary instruction.

Instructor centered lecturing may be one of the easiest and familiar ways to teach, but it may not be the most effective for all students. Implementation of Multiple Intelligences approaches to teaching has major implications in how educators approach instructional tasks. Traditional instructional approaches use teacher-centered instruction that represents a command style of teaching. Decisions about what is said, when it is said and what students learn originate with the teacher who is considered the authoritarian expert.

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