Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory
By Petya Vasko

Q: Who is Howard Gardner?
A: Howard Gardner is an American developmental psychologist famous for his Multiple Intelligences Theory.

Q: What is the Multiple Intelligences Theory?
A: Proposed in 1983, the theory is a model of intelligence that differentiates intelligence into specific modalities, instead of acknowledging a single ability as being dominant.

Q: What are the different intelligence modalities as defined by Howard Gardner?
1. Intrapersonal Intelligence:

· The capacity to understand oneself;
· To acknowledge and appreciate one's feelings, fears, and motivations;
· To know one’s strengths and weaknesses;
· Traits: Introverts, Self reflective, Intuitive, Great self awareness, Strong at analysis, Independe
2. Interpersonal Intelligence:
· The capacity to understand the intentions, motivations, desires, and feelings of other individuals;
· Individuals who are interpersonally intelligent work and communicate effectively with others;
· Traits: Communication skills, Being a team player, Helps resolve personal conflict issues, Great listener;

3. Linguistic Intelligence:
· The ability to learn and the capacity to use language(s);
· The ability to use language to express oneself rhetorically or poetically;
· Language as a means to remember information;
· An individual with linguistic Intelligence is sensitive to spoken and written language;

4. Logical Intelligence:
· The capacity to analyze problems logically;
· The ability to carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically;
· The ability to detect and understand patterns, reason deductively and think logically;
· This intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking;

5. Musical Intelligence:
· The skill and the ability to perform, compose, and appreciate music;
· The capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms;
· The ability to decipher sounds and tones on a higher level than most people;

6. Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence:
· The potential of using one's whole body or parts of the body to solve problems;
· The ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements;
· The ability to learn through movement;

7. Spatial Intelligence:
· The potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas;
· The ability to look at an empty space and picture how a structure would look inside it;
· Individuals with Spatial Intelligence can perceive what an image can look like in three dimensions;

8. Naturalistic Intelligence:
· Keen awareness of the interaction between nature and man;
· One who is Naturalistically intelligent care about the environment;
· One loves animals and have respect for them;
· One is interested in growing plants;
· This intelligence was added after the original seven;

Q: How is the Theory of Multiple Intelligences Relevant to the Classroom?
ž A: Students have preferred ways of learning (learning styles) and teachers must modify the curriculum and the instruction to meet the learning needs of the students. At the same time, as Gardner suggests, everyone is capable of developing the above mentioned intelligences, but one might have a preferred one(s) or ones that are more expressed than others. The teacher must expose all the students to the different ways of learning (corresponding to the above intelligences) for them to be well-rounded and understand that there are many ways to learn the same thing and many ways to show what was learned.
ž Since students learn and show what they have learned differently, various types of assessment targeting the same topic should be available to students.

Q: What Researchers Say?
The researcher Mindy L. Kornhaber (2001: 276), has identified a number of reasons why teachers and policymakers in the United States have welcomed Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory. Among these are that: “... the theory validates educators' everyday experience: students think and learn in many different ways. It also provides educators with a conceptual framework for organizing and reflecting on curriculum assessment and pedagogical practices. In turn, this reflection has led many educators to develop new approaches that might better meet the needs of the range of learners in their classrooms.”
As Kornhaber (2001: 276) has noted, educators must opt 'for depth over breadth' because understanding entails taking knowledge gained in one setting and using it in another. 'Students must have extended opportunities to work on a topic' (op. cit.).

Q: How will I implement this in the classroom?
Each day I will begin with a brief lecture and discussion explaining an aspect of the current theme. For instance, during a unit on outer space, I might lecture on spiral galaxies. To engage the students, I would organize the room into seven learning centers and the students would spend most of the class moving through these centers- 15 to 20 minutes at each center. The centers provide seven different ways for the students to learn the subject matter, thus the students would learn each day’s lesson in seven ways. They would build models, dance, make collaborative decisions, create songs, solve deductive reasoning problems, read, write, and illustrate all in one school day. Remember! This is just in theory… I have no idea how it would work in a real classroom. For all I know, it could be a disaster, but nevertheless, it is great to fantasize. (I might need to extend the timeframe for the learning centers activity from one day to one week.)

The seven centers would correspond to(and represent) the original seven intelligences as defined by Gardner.
ž In the Personal Work Center (Intrapersonal Intelligence), I will have the students explore the present area of study (topic, theme) through research, reflection, and even individual projects.
( I will decide based on the time constraints present.)
ž In the Working Together Center (Interpersonal Intelligence), the students will develop cooperative learning skills as they would be asked to solve problems, answer questions, create learning games, brainstorm ideas and discuss that day's topic collaboratively.
ž In the Music Center (Musical Intelligence), students compose and sing songs about the subject matter, make their own instruments, and learn in rhythmical ways.
ž In the Art Center (Spatial Intelligence), I will have the students explore a subject area (topic/theme) using diverse art media, manipulables, different puzzles, charts, and pictures.
ž In the Building Center (Kinesthetic Intelligence), the students would be asked to build various models, dramatize events, dance, all in ways that relate to the content of the subject matter discussed in class.
ž In the Reading Center (Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence), students will read and write, and learn in the traditional ways. In addition, they will practice the analysis and organization of information while presenting in written form.
ž In the Math & Science Center (Logical/ Mathematical Intelligence), they will have the chance to work with math games, manipulatives, mathematical concepts, science experiments, and so on. Students will be able to use deductive reasoning and problem solving to reach to draw inferences that have to do with the topic discussed in class.
ž If everything goes according to plan (in a real classroom), students will have the chance to share their creations/findings at the end.

  • Gardner, Howard (1983; 1993) Frames of Mind: The theory of multiple intelligences, New York: Basic Books. The second edition was published in Britain by Fontana Press. 466 + xxix pages. (All references in this article refer to this second, 10th Anniversary, edition). A major addition to the literature of cognitive psychology being the first full length explication of multiple intelligences.
  • Gardner, Howard (1989) To Open Minds: Chinese clues to the dilemma of contemporary education, New York: Basic Books. This book includes a significant amount of material on Gardner's early life.
  • Gardner, H. (1991) The Unschooled Mind: How children think and how schools should teach, New York: Basic Books.
  • Gardner, Howard (1999) Intelligence Reframed. Multiple intelligences for the 21st century, New York: Basic Books. 292 + x pages. Useful review of Gardner's theory and discussion of issues and additions.
  • Gardner, Howard (1999) The Disciplined Mind: Beyond Facts And Standardized Tests, The K-12 Education That Every Child Deserves, New York: Simon and Schuster (and New York: Penguin Putnam).
  • Kornhaber, M. L. (2001) 'Howard Gardner' in J. A. Palmer (ed.) Fifty Modern Thinkers on Education. From Piaget to the present, London: Routledge.
  • Google Search: Images: Classroom (Accessed: 05/25/2011)
  • Wikipedia Search: Howard Gardner (Accessed: 05/25/2011)