Multiple Intelligences and the Classroom

So, we already know that Howard Gardner theorized that there are different types, or modalities, of intelligence.  People have varying levels of the different types of intelligence, and as a result, have different preferences for how they learn and show what they’ve learned.

We know from this theory that it is important to present information to students in different ways, so that students have a greater chance for success in learning that information.  But it is also important to give students a choice in showing what they know. [1]  Therefore, when students are completing assignments and projects, whether in the library or in a classroom, giving them options for how they would like to share their work will allow more students to be successful in that assignment.

Perhaps, for example, students have been studying animals in science class.  They have developed research questions about their chosen animals, and have come to the library to use a database to search for more information on those animals.  After they finish their research, the teacher would like them to share what they’ve learned with the class.  This is an opportunity to give students choice.  Students with higher linguistic intelligence may want to write a traditional report, or use an online tool such as Voki that allows them to orally present their information.  Students with higher spatial intelligence, on the other hand, may want to do something more visual, like a PowerPoint or Glogster.  Students who have higher musical intelligence might choose to write a poem or song, while students with bodily/kinesthetic intelligence may want to build a model, or create a game to show what they have learned.

Students learn differently, based on the areas in which they have higher intelligence, and allowing them to choose how to show what they have learned gives them more opportunity for success in the classroom.


1. Big thinkers: Howard Gardner on multiple intelligences. (1997). Retrieved from

2 thoughts on “Multiple Intelligences and the Classroom

  1. It is unfortunate that schools don’t account for multiple intelligences when educating children. Instead they treat all children like products on an assembly line. I can’t help but feel that more children would succeed if they are given more control over how they learn. My partner and I are looking into putting any children that we have into Montessori or Montessori-style schools. But we are both quite disappointed that true Montessori schools only educate children 6 and under.

  2. Alison,
    I also think it’s important to not only present information in different ways, but to allow students the choice in which way they would rather present information. This can allow students to try something completely new and different than what they’ve done in the past, or allow students to play to their strengths. By giving students choice, students can be creative and drive their presentation. I also like your suggestions of different Web 2.0 tools. It’s a great way to see how Howard Gardner’s theory can use 21st century technology to apply to students’ learning and channeling a students’ creativity and motivation.

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