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Pedagogical Development Office

Teaching Tip: Multiple Intelligences

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Image courtesy of worditout.com and Wilma Brown

Multiple Intelligences (MI)

In the mid-1980s Howard Gardner developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) that defined eight different intelligences and ways that people think and learn. In the mid-1990s Thomas Armstrong further developed Gardner’s work by using different terminology that expanded the understanding of the different ways that people are intelligent or ‘smart.’ Both Gardner and Armstrong acknowledged the complexities of humans and that we each have several different intelligences and ways of learning. Most importantly, no learning preferences are better than others, just different. Some approaches are more common, but none are the only way to learn something. Our students attending our courses bring their own intelligences and learning preferences to class.

MI Terminology and Student Characteristics

As teachers, when we are aware, able, and prepared to help our students learn in different ways that better suit and match our students’ multiple intelligences and learning preferences, the better our students learn. Review the following chart, our teaching preferences and our students’ learning preferences, and consider teaching a topic, competency, or skill in several different ways.

Howard Gardner’s MI Theory Terminology

Thomas Armstrong MI Theory Terminology

Characteristics of Students who:

Linguistic Intelligence Word Smart enjoy reading, can often speak several different languages, always answer questions in class, use words to think and write, enjoy word games; understand written text easily
Logical Mathematical Intelligence Number Smart reason and calculate easily, enjoy patterns and solving puzzles; work with lists and step-by-step instructions; can think in the abstract and understand concepts
Spatial Intelligence Picture Smart use visual pictures, drawings, colours, images, maps, and charts to think and learn; connect with physical space around them
Musical Intelligence Music Smart are auditory and sensitive to sounds to understand their environments; enjoy music and listening to others speak; often sing and playing a musical instrument.
Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence Body Smart are tactile and enjoy hands-on activities; use their body effectively, like an athlete, dancer, actor, and surgeon
Naturalistic Intelligence Nature Smart appreciate and enjoy being around animals and plants, outdoor activities, love nature and the environment; enjoy rural and country settings
Interpersonal Intelligence People Smart are very social and often extroverted; enjoy spending time interacting with others and group work; they have many friends and excellent ‘street smarts’
Intrapersonal Intelligence Self Smart are often shy and introverted; often prefer to spend time by themselves and working on their own; can be very insightful and intuitive

For further information about Multiple Intelligences and/or other pedagogical ideas, please contact Wilma Brown and view other online Teaching Tips on the PDO web page.

Wilma Brown, Pedagogical Development Office (PDO)