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Learning and Teaching should take Account of Multiple Intelligence:

Multi-Intelligences
 

 
 

Teaching Approaches

Multi-Intelligences

Learning Styles

 

 

 

 

Multiple Intelligence Theory was developed by Howard Gardner.   His thesis was that individuals do not have just one type of intelligence, such as might be measured by an IQ test, but several.   He described a number of intelligences, each of which was identified with a different part of the brain.   His research involved working with brain-damaged people to identify how parts of the brain operated in the learning process.

He defined “intelligence” in the following ways: the ability to create an effective product or offer a service that is valued in a culture; a set of skills that make it possible for a person to solve problems in life; the potential for finding or creating solutions for problems, which involves gathering new knowledge.

Gardner’s work has been particularly influential in America.   Its importance is such that Multiple Intelligence Theory alone informs one principle of the Highland Learning and Teaching Policy.

Points Arising from Research

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All human beings possess all nine intelligences in varying amounts

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Each person has a different intellectual composition

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We can improve education by addressing the multiple intelligences of our students

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These intelligences are located in different areas of the brain and can either work independently or together

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In an IQ test, even a genius could gain a low score

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The context in which we learn is very important and cultural/environmental factors influence how our intelligences develop

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People do not learn in the same way at the same time

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There is evidence that MI-based approaches can raise academic achievement
 

Key Elements of Multiple Intelligence Theory

The Theory - Gardner identified the first 7 intelligences in his book Frames of Mind and has since added the last two.

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Verbal/Linguistic:  think in words; like to read and write; like stories; like to play word games

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Logical/Mathematical:  see patterns easily; like abstract ideas; like strategy games and logical puzzles; work out sums easily in your head

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Visual/Spatial:  think in images and pictures; easily remember where things have been put; like drawing, designing, building, daydreaming; read maps and diagrams easily

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Musical/Rhythmic-auditory:  often sing, hum, whistle to self; remember melodies; have a good sense of rhythm; play an instrument; need music on when studying

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Bodily/Kinaesthetic:  remember through bodily sensations; find it difficult to sit still for long; are good at sports or dance or acting or mime; have excellent coordination; communicate well through gestures; learn best through physical activity, simulation and role play

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Interpersonal:  understand people well; learn best by interacting and cooperating with others; are good at leading and organising; pick up on other people’s feelings; enjoy playing social games

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Intrapersonal/Reflective:  like to work alone; are self-motivated; are intuitive; are self-confident; are aware of personal strengths and weaknesses

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Naturalistic:  make distinctions and recognise patterns in the natural world; are curious about plants and animals; are concerned for the ecology/environment

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Existential:  reflect on the meaning of life; ask questions about death; think about how we got here

Self-assessment and Reflection (see Activities grid for more info):

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Teachers can use a test to provide a profile of their own intelligences

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Teachers can then reflect on how this profile may be influencing their teaching

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Pupils can create a similar profile for themselves

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Teachers can use pupil profiles to evaluate teaching strategies

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Pupil profiles can be used to enhance pupils’ self-image

Benefits of adapting the curriculum to MI Theory:

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There is scope for more entertaining and varied teaching

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Skills can be developed which will be useful in later life

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Cooperative strategies help individuals identify and develop special aptitudes

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Individuals can recognise that the school values what they can do, even if they lack certain types of intelligence

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Discipline can improve as pupils engage more with classroom work

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The classroom becomes more like the real world

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For pupils: “It’s not how smart you are - but how you are smart”

Curriculum and Assessment:

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MI-based strategies can be used to convey traditional curriculum content

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Such strategies may involve changes to classroom organisation, presentation of materials and types of interaction (pupil-pupil and teacher-pupil)

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It may be appropriate to consider different assessment strategies to recognise different types of intelligence (e.g. in how pupils are required to present material for assessment)

Reflection and Discussion

To what extent does your current practice take account of different intelligences?

Can you identify areas in your teaching which could usefully be adapted to take account of MI Theory?

Would such changes cause problems for the pacing of work?

MI Theory has prompted two very different lines of thought: firstly that we should broaden the curriculum to give more scope for developing different aptitudes; secondly that we should narrow the curriculum for individuals so that individual aptitudes may be more effectively focused on.  Which side of the argument are you on?  Some argue for breadth in the Primary sector and increased specialisation in the Secondary.

 

Some Activities Relating To the Issue of Multiple Intelligences

Key element

Objective

Action

 

Some examples and suggestions

The Theory

Identifying intelligences

Pupils can have the intelligences explained and then list the types of jobs which would fall into each category.  They could also try to work out which intelligences certain celebrities might have.  It might be interesting to draw attention to the number of actors who are dyslexic, for example.

Self-assessment and Reflection

Pupils can create a similar profile for themselves

Various internet sites (see references below for examples) provide on-line self-assessment questionnaires which can be used by both teachers and pupils.  Pupils can then be encouraged to reflect on and discuss what the concept of “intelligence” means.  (PSE in Secondary?)
 

Pupil profiles can be used to enhance pupils’ self-image

Take time to get pupils to reflect on the particular things which they can succeed at - perhaps related to a part-time job or an out-of-school hobby. 

Benefits of adapting the curriculum to MI Theory There is scope for more entertaining and varied teaching Identify a block of work which could be presented in a variety of ways, appropriate for different intelligences.  There are many examples to be found on internet sites (see references below, for example).  Thus in the course of one teaching topic there could be a sequence of varied activities which, over a period of time, provide for all types of intelligence.
Curriculum and Assessment

Such strategies may involve changes to classroom organisation, presentation of materials and types of interaction

Some primary schools have use MI “centres” in the classroom.   Materials are laid out (rather as in the “stations” manner familiar to some of us) around the classroom.   However, activities and materials are devised and selected to cater  for particular types of intelligence.   An interesting task is to consider how this might be done for a single block of work.

Selected References


Further Reading

Gardner, H (1983) Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Fontana Press. ISBN: 000 686290X   

Gardner, H (1993) Multiple Intelligences: The theory in Practice, Basic Books, ISBN: 04650 1822 X   

Glover, D & Law, S (2002) Improving Learning: Professional Practice in Secondary Schools, Open University Press,  ISBN: 0335 209122   

Smith, A (1996) Accelerated Learning in the Classroom, Network Educational Press Ltd, ISBN: 1 85539 0345  

Smith, A (1999) Accelerated Learning in Practice, Network Educational Press Ltd, ISBN:  1 85539 048 5   

Buzan, T and B (2000) The Mind Map Book, BBC Consumer Publishing (Books), ISBN 0563537329   
 

  
Websites

www.newhorizons.org/strategies/mi/wilson1.htm

http://www.evsc.k12.in.us/curriculum/math/Intelligencetable
Contains practical suggestions for teachers.

www.acceleratedlearning.com
Essentially marketing products, but gives a summary of theory and includes a MI self-test.

www.uwsp.edu/education/lwilson/LEARNING/3mides.htm
 

www.d.umn.edu/student/loon/acad/strat/lrnsty.html
University of Duluth. This website has a huge range of reference material,  well worth browsing through.

www.pz.harvard.edu
Contains a series of interviews with Howard Gardner.  You can also e-mail direct questions to the faculty.

 


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Last updated 20/08/2010
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