Gardner defines intelligence
as a “biopsychological
potential to process
information that can be
activated in a cultural
setting to solve problems or
create products that are of
value in a culture” (Gardner,
“Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, gives
us a different framework for teaching and thinking in the
classroom, as well as how we think about what people do
in life. We rely on lots different abilities to succeed in life.
Different people have those abilities differently
developed, and using the strengths that we have as a
pathway into material actually lets us learn that material
What is Multiple Intelligences Theory?
Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences proposes that people
are not born with all of the intelligence they will ever have.
This theory challenged the traditional notion that there is one single type
of intelligence, sometimes known as “g” for general intelligence, that only
focuses on cognitive abilities.
Howard Gardner's theory of multiple
To broaden this notion of intelligence, Gardner introduced eight different
types of intelligences consisting of:
Intelligence (“word smart”)
Linguistic Intelligence is a
part of Howard Gardner's
multiple intelligence theory
that deals with sensitivity to
the spoken and written
language, ability to learn
languages, and capacity to
use language to accomplish
Spatial intelligence features
the potential to recognize and
manipulate the patterns of
wide space (those used, for
instance, by navigators and
pilots) as well as the patterns
of more confined areas, such
as those of importance to
sculptors, surgeons, chess
players, graphic artists, or
Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom
Teachers can draw on Gardner’s theory for
their classrooms in three ways:
1. By assessing and building on students’
2. By providing points of entry to subject matter
3. By creating interdisciplinary curricula
Assessing and Building on Students
In order for students to remain motivated in school, they need
opportunities to succeed in learning. An important aim of schooling is to
give students opportunities to feel successful.
However, students’ preferred mode of intelligence should not become the
medium for all of the student’s work in place of developing other needed
Teachers should also be careful to avoid the “pigeon-holing effect” –
labeling students forever as “X” types of learners. All individuals possess
certain combinations of the various intelligences, and they can apply these
differently in different contexts
Assessing and Building on Students
How can these differing intelligences be assessed? Kreshevsky and Seidel
(1998) suggest teachers look for the following things to develop better
understandings of individual students:
What choices do students make when given options?
What roles do they play when working together?
How do they handle unanticipated problems?
What captures their attention? When do they lose interest?
What problem-solving strategies do they offer?
How do they communicate ideas, understandings, thoughts, and feelings?
What does their physical behavior suggest?
Providing Powerful Points of Entry
Part of being an intelligent learner is demonstrating that you can think about
the same idea in different ways. Gardner suggests three ways teachers can
enhance students’ understanding:
1. By providing powerful points of entry – many ways to introduce and
approach a topic
2. By offering apt analogies – connecting new topics to ideas and concepts
that are more readily familiar to students
3. By providing multiple representations of the central or core ideas of the