Multiple intelligence (MI) theory has received much attention over the past 20-years (Campbell, 1997; Silver, Strong, & Perini, 1997). Almost 80 years after the first intelligence tests were developed, Howard Gardner challenged the idea that intelligence is something that can be objectively measured and reduced to a single quotient or score. Gardner proposed in Frames of Mind, (1983) there were at least seven, basic intelligences. Since then, an 8th has been added (Checkley, 1997; Roper and Davis, 2000). Gardner sought to broaden the perception of human potential beyond the confines of traditional IQ scores. This is a useful concept for effective, modern classrooms.
Students with LD (learning disabilities) often exhibit deficits in verbal/linguistic or logical/mathematical skills but shows strengths in other areas. Unfortunately, schools put more emphasis on verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical skills. The teacher’s role in an MI classroom contrasts sharply with that of a teacher lectures while standing in front of the classroom, writes on the blackboard, questions students about assigned readings or handouts, and waits as students finish written work.
In the MI classroom, the teacher continually shifts the method of presentation from linguistic to spatial to musical and so on, often combining approaches to different kinds of intelligences in creative ways. According to John Goodlad’s pioneering “A Study of Schooling” projects, which involved researchers’ observing more than 1,000 classrooms nationwide, nearly 705 of classroom time was consumed by teacher talk. The second, most widely observed activity was students doing written assignments. (Goodlad, 1984)
MI theory provides an avenue for accomplishing what good teachers have always done—reach beyond the text to provide varied opportunities for students to learn and show evidence of learning. Because of individual differences among students, teachers should employ a wide variety of teaching strategies. MI theory offers teachers the opportunity to develop innovative teaching techniques that can easily be implemented in the classroom.
Effective assessment must be allied with instructional practices (Bellanca, Chapman & Swartz, 1994). Changing strategies and curricula without changing assessment methods will not bring about the full benefit for teaching and learning. MI theory incorporates many assessment strategies that allow students to show they understand and can use new information in unique ways. Assessment alternatives include logs and journals, graphic organizers, observational checklists, video samples, rubrics, miscue analyses, and portfolios. Some examples are math lessons or units in which the teacher assesses cooperation groups (interpersonal intelligence), hands-on manipulative performance (bodily/kinesthetic intelligence). Or reflection logs (interpersonal intelligence).
In the MI classroom, possibilities for assessing student learning are as numerous as the options for organizing curricula and teaching strategies (Bellanca et al. 1994). In traditional classrooms, assessment drives instruction. In MI classrooms, assessment and instruction are partners. The MI classroom provides the environment for teachers to use varied teaching strategies, expanded curricula, and authentic assessment to provide creative and active learning that engaged all students (especially those with disabilities in the construction of their own learning).
A brief background of MI theory and its influence on education helps support the use of MI approaches to train teachers. MI theory was put forth by Dr. Howard Gardner as a theory to define human intellect through a spectrum of content areas including verbal/linguistic, mathematical/logical, intrapersonal, interpersonal, visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, musical/rhythmic and naturalistic (Gardner, 1983, 1993).
On the pre-K-12 level, the application of MI theory has lead...