Multiple Intelligence (MI) – Howard Gardner
Background of Howard Gardner
Howard Gardner is a psychologist and Professor at Harvard University's Graduate School of
Education. Based on his study of many
people from many different walks of life in everyday circumstances and
professions, Gardner developed the theory of
multiple intelligences. He performed interviews with and brain research on
hundreds of people, including stroke victims, prodigies, autistic individuals,
and so-called "idiot savants."
Gardner defined the first seven
intelligences in Frames of Mind in 1983.
He added the last two in Intelligence Reframed in 1999.
Theory Behind the Model
Gardner's MI Theory challenged
traditional beliefs in the fields of education and cognitive science. According to a traditional definition,
intelligence is a uniform cognitive capacity people are born with. This capacity can be easily measured by
short-answer tests. According to Gardner, intelligence is:
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
addition, Gardner claims that:
All human beings possess all intelligences in varying amounts
Each person has a different intellectual composition
We can improve education by addressing the multiple intelligences
of our students
These intelligences are located in different areas of the brain
and can either work independently or together
These intelligences may define the human species
Multiple intelligences can be nurtured and strengthened, or
ignored and weakened
Each individual has nine intelligences (and maybe more to be
According to MI Theory,
identifying each student’s intelligences has strong ramifications in the
classroom. If a child's intelligence can
be identified, then teachers can accommodate different children more
successfully according to their orientation to learning. Teachers in traditional classrooms primarily
teach to the verbal/linguistic and mathematical/logical intelligences. The nine intelligences are:
VISUAL/SPATIAL - children
who learn best visually and organizing things spatially. They like to see what
you are talking about in order to understand. They enjoy charts, graphs, maps, tables,
illustrations, art, puzzles, costumes - anything eye catching.
VERBAL/LINGUISTIC - children
who demonstrate strength in the language arts: speaking, writing, reading,
listening. These students have always been successful in traditional classrooms
because their intelligence lends itself to traditional teaching.
MATHEMATICAL/LOGICAL - children
who display an aptitude for numbers, reasoning and problem solving. This is the
other half of the children who typically do well in traditional classrooms
where teaching is logically sequenced and students are asked to conform.
BODILY/KINESTHETIC - children
who experience learning best through activity: games, movement, hands-on tasks,
building. These children were often labeled "overly active" in
traditional classrooms where they were told to sit and be still!
children who learn well through songs, patterns, rhythms, instruments and
musical expression. It is easy to overlook children with this intelligence in
children who are especially in touch with their own feelings, values and ideas.
They may tend to be more reserved, but they are actually quite intuitive about
what they learn and how it relates to themselves.
children who are noticeably people oriented and outgoing, and do their learning
cooperatively in groups or with a partner. These children may have typically
been identified as "talkative" or " too concerned about being
social" in a traditional setting.
children who love the outdoors, animals, field trips. More than this, though,
these students love to pick up on subtle differences in meanings. The
traditional classroom has not been accommodating to these children.
children who learn in the context of where humankind stands in the "big
picture" of existence. They ask "Why are we here?" and
"What is our role in the world?" This intelligence is seen in the
discipline of philosophy.
Intelligences of MI Theory in table form.
Link to Multiple Intelligence Tests
help understand how you learn best, take this Multiple Intelligence Inventory
test. There are just a few questions to answer and the test should take approximately five
minutes to complete.
MI test can be printed and used in a classroom to determine your students’