Theory of Multiple Intelligences


The “Multiple Intelligences” is a theory introduced by Harvard Professor, Howard Gardner, in which he identifies eight different types of intelligences that each individual has the capacity to possess. The idea of multiple intelligences is important, because it allows educators to identify different strengths and weaknesses in students, and also contradicts the idea that intelligence can be measured through IQ (Intelligence Quotient). In researching about genius, it was found that Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences provides a great alternative to the popular measurable IQ method.

Gardner argues that intelligence is categorized into three primary or overarching categories, which are formulated by the abilities. 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; and the potential for finding or creating solutions for problems, which involves gathering new knowledge.

Gardner says that these differences challenge an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way, and that a uniform and universal measure suffices to test student learning. Indeed, as currently constituted, our educational system is heavily biased toward linguistic modes of instruction and assessment, and, to a somewhat lesser degree, toward logical-quantitative modes as well. Gardner argues that a contrasting set of assumptions is more likely to be educationally effective. Students learn in ways that are identifiably distinctive. The broad spectrum of students—and perhaps the society as a whole—would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a number of ways, and learning could be assessed through a variety of means.

The eight intelligences suggested by this theory are summarized as follows:

1. Visual/Spatial: involves visual perception of the environment, the ability to create and manipulate mental images, and the orientation of the body in space.

2. Verbal/Linguistic: involves reading, writing, speaking, and conversing in one’s own or foreign languages.
3. Logical/Mathematical: involves number and computing skills, recognizing patterns and relationships, timeliness and order, and the ability to solve different kinds of problems through logic.
4. Bodily/Kinesthetic: involves physical coordination and dexterity, using fine and gross motor skills, and expressing oneself, or learning through physical activities.
5. Musical: involves understanding and expressing oneself through music and rhythmic movements or dance, or composing, playing, or conducting music.
6. Interpersonal: involves understanding how to communicate with and understand other people, and how to work collaboratively.
7. Intrapersonal: involves understanding one’s inner world of emotions and thoughts, and growing in the ability to control them and work with them consciously.
8. Naturalist: involves understanding the natural world of plants and animals, noticing their characteristics, and categorizing them; it generally involves keen observation and the ability to classify other things as well.

Soon after this theory was put into practical application, it has been widely accepted in the scientific and educational society. However, many opinions are yet skeptical about the accuracy of some of the theories fundamental assumptions. Intelligence tests and psychometrics have generally found high correlations between different aspects of intelligence, rather than the low correlations which Gardner’s theory predicts, supporting the prevailing theory of general intelligence rather than multiple intelligences. The theory has been thoroughly criticized by mainstream psychology for its lack of empirical evidence, and its dependence on subjective judgment.

To sum up, Gardner emphasized in his theory that people possess a mix of the intelligences and are not ruled by only one type. According to this theory, educational institutions should address these intelligences separately in their curricula.  In general, as we move into using a mix of media or multimedia, it becomes easier to achieve this purpose. As we understand learning styles, it becomes apparent why multimedia appeals to learners and why a mix of media is more effective.


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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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