Howard Gardnerâ€™s Theory of
Many of us are familiar with three general categories in which people learn:
visual learners, auditory learners, and kinesthetic learners. Beyond these three
general categories, many theories of and approaches toward human potential
have been developed. Among them is the theory of multiple intelligences,
developed by Howard Gardner, Ph.D., Professor of Education at Harvard
Gardnerâ€™s early work in psychology and later in human cognition and human
potential led to the development of the initial six intelligences. Today there are
nine intelligences and the possibility of others may eventually expand the list.
These ...view middle of the document...
Existential intelligence (sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions
about human existence such as, What is the meaning of life? Why do we
die? How did we get here?
(Source: Thirteen ed online, 2004)
Human potential can be tied to oneâ€™s preferences to learning; thus, Gardnerâ€™s
focus on human potential lies in the fact that people have a unique blend of
capabilities and skills (intelligences). This model can be used to understand
â€œoverall personality, preferences and strengthsâ€ (businessballs.com, n.d.).
Gardner asserts that people who have an affinity toward one of the intelligences
do so in concert with the other intelligences as â€œthey develop skills and solve
problemsâ€ (businessballs.com, 2009).
Northern Illinois University, Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center
firstname.lastname@example.org, www.niu.edu/facdev, 815.753.0595
HOWARD GARDNERâ€™S THEORY OF MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES
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People have different strengths and intelligences. For example, students who are
â€œinterviewedâ€ as a means to gain access to a course may be mis-labeled as being
less than desirable because of inappropriate assessment (poorly written interview
questions, bias toward a perceived â€œperfect student,â€ and other narrow criteria).
â€œIn life, we need people who collectively are good at different things. A wellbalanced world, and well-balanced organizations and teams, are necessarily
comprised of people who possess different mixtures of intelligences. This gives
that group a fuller collective capacity than a group of identical able specialistsâ€
Instruction which is
designed to help students
develop their strengths
can also trigger their
confidence to develop
areas in which they are
not as strong.
Gardnerâ€™s multiple intelligences theory can be used for curriculum development,
planning instruction, selection of course activities, and related assessment
strategies. Instruction which is designed to help students develop their strengths
can also trigger their confidence to develop areas in which they are not as strong.
Studentsâ€™ multiple learning preferences can be addressed when instruction
includes a range of meaningful and appropriate methods, activities, and
In summary, integrate educational theories, teaching strategies, and other
pedagogic tools in meaningful and useful ways to better address the needs of
students. Gardner himself asserts that educators should not follow one specific
theory or educational innovation when designing instruction but instead employ
customized goals and values appropriate to their teaching and student needs.
Addressing the multiple intelligences and potential of students can help
instructors personalize their instruction and methods of assessment.
Gardnerâ€™s Multiple Intelligences
Table 1 below highlights the primary seven intelligences with further details on
their attributes. Refer to...