How to Use Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

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The theory behind Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences is that humans are not a "blank slate" that is capable of learning any skill presented before them, but that humans have varied intelligences, or strengths. This idea brings forth the notion that all humans are capable of learning, but each person learns in a different way according to which intelligences are their strengths or weaknesses. Gardner's list includes linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, visual-spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalist. You can use these intelligences when teaching others in order to maximize learning for each type of learner. Each lesson should hit upon each intelligence.

The Eight Multiple Intelligences and How to Use Each

  • Teach linguistic learners through the written word or verbal communication. Suit this type of learner through activities such as lecture, debate, listening to podcasts, reading or writing assignments such as poetry and essays. Usually these are the types of students who can read a book on a topic and understand the information with little extra practice.

  • Create lessons for logical-mathematic oriented students where the learner can analyze problems and compute. Suit this type of learner through puzzles, scientific investigations, data analysis, deductive reasoning, mathematical computations or designing new ideas. These types of students usually do well in mathematics classes and are less interested in reading text for information.

  • Relate musical learners to musical patterns and pitches. Suit this type of learner through performance, singing information aloud, rhyming, listening to information set to a rhythm or simply clapping along with repeating information. This type of student is usually very creative and able to "think outside the box."

  • Move with the bodily-kinesthetic learners as they are able to coordinate body movements with information. Suit this type of learner through hands-on experiences, movements such as dancing or performing, touching items or games that involve movement and play. Typically this type of student does not easily gain information from reading, but putting the ideas with a simple movement can help them in remembering.

  • Allow visual-spatial learners to synthesize information using patterns or pictures. Suit this type of learner through activities that involve pictures or items on display, flash cards, diagrams, movies or drawing. Generally the idea of "show don't tell" works best for these students, so always try to have a visual aid available for them.

  • Teach interpersonal learners with the assistance of other people. Suit this type of learner through reflection from another person's point of view, group work, asking the learner to teach information to someone else or interpret emotions felt in an event. Sometimes it seems as though these types of learners are talking out of turn, when they truly feel more comfortable bouncing ideas off of other people or seeking support from their peers.

  • Create lessons for intrapersonal learners where they consider their own emotions or can build off their own motivations. Suit this type of learner by allowing them to set personal goals, work at their own pace, express their feelings through activities such as poetry and drama or simply reflect on learning experiences. Sometimes these students can appear shy or withdrawn, but generally like to "be in their own head."

  • Take naturalist learners outside of the classroom when possible, as they benefit from hands-on experiences in nature. Suit this type of learner through experiments, hands-on activities outdoors, collecting things from the environment, comparing and contrasting natural occurrences and field trips. Sometimes these students appear to be less successful in the classroom, but when brought out into the environment they can succeed quite well.

Using Multiple Intelligences

  • Survey all students or each person in your group to determine which types of learners you have. It is accepted knowledge that people have more than one intelligence, that they have one dominant intelligence and several weaker ones, or that they have several intelligences on a scale.

  • Create a learning goal of what information students will be expected to learn. Remember that every student is expected to learn the information, but it does not matter how they learned the information.

  • Determine how the information learned will be assessed to be sure that each type of learner is able to be successful in their assessment of the information. If a simple written test is offered, make sure that the questions on the test were included in the presentation to each type of learner. Another option is to design several assessments such as a written test, an essay, designing something or a performance and allow the student to choose which he will complete.

  • Create a lesson plan that includes activities directed at each type of learner. This will involve several steps of teaching the same information, but remember that some activities may overlap several types of learners; for example, a science experiment might tap naturalist, interpersonal (if done in a group), logical, visual and kinesthetic learners.

References

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