The Multiple Intelligences Theory was developed by Dr. Howard Gardner in 1983. Dr. Gardner, a noted psychologist and professor of neuroscience from Harvard University, suggested that every human being interacts with their environment differently. We each possess nine different kinds of intelligence, but our experiences, cultural beliefs, and knowledge base determine their exact configuration.
What is “intelligence”, according to Multiple Intelligences Theory?
According to Gardner, there are three key elements that determine a person's intelligence:
- The ability to create a service or product that will be valued in the person's society of culture.
- A skill set that allows the person to solve real world problems that they may encounter in life.
- The ability to potentially create new solutions for problems or to utilize existing solutions. This typically involves the acquisition of new knowledge.
Multiple Intelligences-Based Activities in eLearning
Multiple Intelligences Theory can be implemented in eLearning based upon the nine multiple intelligences. Let's take a closer look at each category and which multiple intelligences-based activities can be utilized during instructional design to create the best possible eLearning experience for the learners:
- Musical (or Rhythmic) Intelligence
This intelligence involves the capacity to think and learn in terms of music and rhythm, and to recognize and hear patterns. An activity that would appeal to this type of intelligence is a lesson that includes music or sound, such as a multimedia presentation. Try to use music that emphasizes the subject matter and creates a more immersive experience for the learner. Since there is more of an auditory aspect with this particular intelligence, lectures can also be very helpful. People who demonstrate a high degree of musical intelligence may be ideally suited for musical professions, such as composing or playing an instrument.
- Linguistic Intelligence
This intelligence is associated with expression through language. These people tend to be able to eloquently convey their thoughts and to understand the words of others. Writers and speakers typically display a high degree of this sort of intelligence. Any activities that include discussion, such as online forums or group-based scenarios, are ideal for individuals who lean more toward linguistic intelligence.
- Mathematical (or Logical) Intelligence
This involves the ability to identify principles or structures within a system. This intelligence is often associated with the logic or the manipulation of numbers. Activities ideally suited for this intelligence may include diagrams, charts, or tables. Critical thinking scenarios are also useful with this group. Accountants and researchers often have a high level of mathematical intelligence.
- Kinesthetic (or Bodily) Intelligence
Body Intelligence involves the use of a person's entire body to figure out solutions or to create something. People who demonstrate a high degree of kinesthetic intelligence may be ideally suited for performing arts professions, such as dancing, or careers that require an innate knowledge of one's own body, such as a doctor or athlete. Activities that are best suited for this sort of intelligence include games that involve hand-eye-coordination or interactive scenarios that require physical involvement. The thing to keep in mind about this group is that they are best able to learn when muscular movement is involved. So, include activities that require movement and physical response.
- Spatial Intelligence
This intelligence pertains to a keen sense of space and how one can navigate those spaces. Activities that involve flow charts and graphics are ideal for this intelligence group, as well as games or multimedia that is visually appealing. Architects, pilots, and sailors often have a high degree of spatial intelligence.
- Intrapersonal Intelligence
This involves an in depth understanding of oneself, such as what you can accomplish and how you react to certain situations. As such, individuals with high intrapersonal intelligence often have a sense of what they should avoid and what they want to achieve in their lives. Professors and philosophers often possess high degrees of intrapersonal intelligence. Activities such as collaborative learning exercises (online forums) and chat programs enable intrapersonal intelligence learners to help others and to share experiences and ideas. This category responds well, first and foremost, to activities, which require introspection.
- Interpersonal Intelligence
This is the capacity to understand and learn from others. People who demonstrate a high degree of intrapersonal intelligence may be ideally suited for service professions, such as teaching or politics. Those who identify more with this category of intelligence may benefit from group discussion activities and in depth questions that make them fully explore the topic. What's important to remember about interpersonal intelligence is that these individuals are sensitive to others' moods and feelings. They work well in-group settings and are often able to learn more effectively when collaborating.
- Naturalist Intelligence
This intelligence involves the capacity to differentiate between living organisms and to view the connection between all natural things. People with a high degree of naturalist intelligence usually have a close bond with nature. Botany and biology are two career fields that closely identify with this sort of intelligence. Activities that involve classification or organization appeal to these individuals.
- Existential Intelligence
This particular intelligence was added later by Gardner, and is not commonly associated with learning environments, as it is geared more toward spiritual and philosophical views. For example, someone who has a high degree of existentialist intelligence may have a tendency to pose questions about life's purpose or death.
It's important to note that instructional designers should not feel obligated to incorporate all of these multiple intelligences-based activities into their eLearning courses, just that it may be beneficial to offer a variety of multiple intelligences-based activities to more effectively illustrate the subject matter. If you are able to offer learners a diverse set of learning tools and eLearning strategies, then you gain the ability to increase comprehension and retention, not to mention enhance the overall eLearning experience.
- Howard Gardner: ‘Multiple intelligences’ are not ‘learning styles’
- Development of an Effective MultipleIntelligences Activities Model through an e-Learning Environment on Moodle LMS
- Dr. Gardener’s Personal Website
- Theory of multiple intelligences
- Howard Gardner’s book, Multiple intelligences. (2010)
- Gardner's 'Multiple Intelligences' seductive nonsense?