Multiple Intelligence Theory

MI Theory

Oxford Dictionaries defines intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. Merriam-Webster defines intelligence is the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations. The focus of this article is acquiring knowledge and learning or understanding things. In 1983, Harvard University Professor Dr. Howard Gardner first introduced somewhat eight different intelligences in his famous book Frame of Mind. Later his proposition with intelligences extended into nine and popularized as the Multiple Intelligence Theory or MI Theory in short. MI Theory got attracted into teaching methods especially in science or technical subjects in effective ways. Teachers worldwide successfully used the core concept of the theory in their classroom teaching and ensured significant improvements to students’ performances. Gardner wrote in 2003 incorporation of the MI theory in classroom teaching can make positive differences in better learning. A well-choreographed MI based design approach brings success in effective teaching when it is applied in learning of a challenging or new concept. Thomas Armstrong mentioned in his book Multiple Intelligences in The Classroom published in 2009, increased research initiatives were seen on MI theory around the world and specifically in East Asia and Middle East. Gardner described in 1993 emphasis was given to teachers that they were the key persons about creating a proper lesson plan for their classes where activities with multiple intelligences would be incorporated deliberately for achieving the expected outcome from the class. In another book published in 2009, edited by Cheng, Moran and Gardner, it was explained how the Asians took the MI theory in their education practices through Dr. Gardner’s personal experiences in China, Thailand and Philippines. Details of experiences, assessment and challenges were identified regarding implementing MI theory in Asia Pacific regions.


Nine Intelligences

The nine intelligences in the MI Theory are (1) Verbal Linguistic, (2) Logical-Mathematical, (3) Visual Spatial, (4) Bodily-Kinesthetic, (5) Musical, (6) Interpersonal, (7) Intrapersonal, (8) Naturalist, and (9) Existentialist. (Figure – 1) The names are self-explanatory to understand the quality of an individual regarding his/her learning ability. In other words, these intelligences are the comfort zones of individual’s basic instincts for learning things of interests. Every individual has a certain combination of these nine qualities differing with intensities of intelligences. People are good at certain professions according to their mix of intelligences.


Figure-1: Nine Intelligences in MI Theory


Use in Effective Learning

According to MI theory student will learn better if the teacher deliberately makes his/her teaching plan by incorporating various intelligences. One of the pioneers of the MI theory implementers and facilitators around the world Dr. Ellen Weber stated in a research paper that students understand deeply when they investigate authentic problems, rather than simply recite back isolated facts on standardized tests.  If the students enjoy a learning environment where they think critically and creatively, when they can relate classroom instructions to tasks and experiences they encounter in their realities, they can learn better and achieve new skills. Everyone has a certain combination of all multiple intelligences. Dr. Gardner accentuates two claims: (1) All individuals possess the full range of intelligences, and (2) No two individuals, not even identical twins, exhibit precisely the same profile of intellectuals.


Please follow my other articles on specific intelligence for extensive details on Verbal Linguistic Intelligence, Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Visual Spatial Intelligence, Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence, Musical Intelligence, Interpersonal Intelligence, Intrapersonal Intelligence, Naturalist Intelligence, and Existentialist Intelligence.

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