“Nowhere else (but in schools) are large groups of individuals packed so closely together for so many hours, yet expected to perform at peak efficiency on difficult learning tasks and to interact harmoniously” (Weinstein, 1979, p. 585).
Everyone learns differently. Long before a student can identify their own best learning strategies, teachers can maximize learning potential by providing many different teaching methods. Multiple Intelligences (MI) can expand a teacher’s instructional “repertoire to include a broader range of methods, materials, and techniques for reaching an ever wider and more diverse range of learners” (Armstrong, 2017, pg. 39). The theory of MI provides a structure to support learning focused on different types of student intelligences. It is “a cognitive model that seeks to describe how individuals use their intelligences to solve problems and fashion products” (Armstrong, 2017, pg. 10). MI provides opportunity for students to think critically in context rich learning environments (Armstrong, 2017; Gardner, 1983:1993; Weinstein, 1979).
Types of MI learners:
- Linguistic-verbal: This learner loves books, words, and language. They love to entertain others with stories. They love to write or speak. In class they need dialog, discussion, debates, stories, books, and a reason to write.
- Logical-mathematical: This learner wants to know how things work; they love to figure things out and use well-developed reasoning skills. In class, this learner needs things to explore and think about, things to handle and figure out, logical puzzles or case studies. They love experimenting, questioning, calculating, etc.
- Spatial-visual: This learner likes visuals, art, presentations, diagrams, and photography. They love taking pictures or using a video camera. They think in images and pictures. This learner needs art supplies, materials to build, imagination, games, puzzles, videos, or pictures
- Bodily-Kinesthetic: This learner thinks through motion. They need physical activity, role-play, things to build, skits, tactile experiences, hands-on learning, or lab experiences. They love physical movement. They often talk with their hands. In class, this is often the learner that can’t sit still. They actually have to move to think clearly.
- Musical: This learner loves music, rhythm, singing, humming, tapping fingers and feet. This learner may hum or tap without even realizing it. In class, music may actually improve this learner’s ability to concentrate.
- Interpersonal: This learner does best when they can talk to their friends. They love conversation. Relationships and socializing are very important to them. These students talk to everyone. In the classroom, this learner needs to be able to bounce ideas off of other people. Relationships are important to them.
- Intrapersonal: This learner is independent and prefers being alone to think. They may be very self-aware and may keep a journal. They are good at setting goals, then quietly planning. In the classroom, they like to work alone at self-paced projects.
- Naturalist: This learner likes nature and being outside. They love animals and gardening. In class this learner needs access to nature and opportunity to investigate nature, animals, and physiological phenomena
- Existentialist: This learner focuses through their own consciousness, and needs to create their own values and determine meaning of information to their life. This learner sees the ‘big picture’, and connects real world understandings and application to new learning. In class, this learner needs time to think. Decision-making and reasoning are quite important to this learner.
With so many different unique learners in one space, it is important to utilize different learning activities. Using your MI knowledge will help you design or identify new ways of engaging and motivating your learners.