Multiple Intelligences Theory and Differentiated Instruction

Topic: Education Theories
Words: 1462 Pages: 5

Howard Gardner developed the Multiple Intelligences theory, which defied the fields of cognitive science and education. Gardner defines intelligence in three different ways. First, he argues that intelligence is the capability to create efficient products or offer services that are valued in a certain culture. Second, Gardner defines intelligence as particular skills that enable an individual to solve problems in their life (Kornhaber, 2019). Third, Gardner argues intelligence is the potential for creating solutions to challenges by gathering fresh knowledge.

According to the Multiple Intelligences theory, there are nine intelligence types, including visual, verbal, mathematical, kinesthetic, musical, intrapersonal, naturalist, interpersonal, and existentialist. Visual intelligence is the ability to learn visually and organize things spatially. Verbal intelligence entails showing strength in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Mathematical intelligence is associated with displaying an aptitude for problem-solving, reasoning, and numbers while kinesthetic intelligence is linked to learning best through activities such as hands-on tasks, games, and movement. Musical intelligence involves learning through rhythms, patterns, and songs whereas intrapersonal intelligence entails understanding own ideas, values, and feelings. Interpersonal intelligence involves children who are people-oriented, outgoing, and cooperative in groups. Naturalist intelligence is common in students who learn best outdoors and on field trips (Kornhaber, 2019). Finally, existentialist children learn effectively when they understand the big picture of their existence.

It is critical to compare Gardner’s view of intelligence with the general view among schools. Schools view intelligence quotient as a cognitive capacity that individuals are born with which can be measured using standardized short-answer tests. Intelligence tests are aptitude tests that are structured to evaluate if a person can succeed in school. Ultimately, schools tend to use intelligence quotient (IQ) tests to measure if students can successfully succeed in their studies. However, Gardner argues that there are different types of intelligence that people have in varying capacities. A high IQ is not a guarantee that future success in life will happen. Furthermore, a high IQ does not indicate that an individual has effective interpersonal skills, common sense as well as other abilities necessary for success (Akpan & Kennedy, 2020). The different intelligence modalities can work together or independently to define the human species.

Having taken a Multiple Intelligence test online, my strongest intelligence is logical or mathematical as shown in figure 1. It is my strongest type of intelligence because I like to process data and information through reason and logic. I am attracted to investigations through the scientific method to evaluate problems. As a result, I use quantitative methods that rely on my ability to conduct observations and reach justifiable conclusions. Mathematical intelligence is my strongest trait because I dislike subjective analysis and nebulous assumptions. On the other hand, I trust numerical data and hard facts while solving problems. I seek precision and accuracy in my work and learning.

Multiple Intelligences Test
Figure 1: Multiple Intelligences Test

I was surprised by the results of the test because I discovered I have naturalist intelligence. I was previously unaware of possessing the intelligence but I can understand some of my behaviors that show I have naturalist intelligence. I am sensitive to nature and I appreciate it and I am interested in growing plants, fruits, and vegetables. Ultimately, naturalist intelligence suits my personality and behavior because I enjoy picnics and outdoor events, hiking, camping, climbing, and walking (Kornhaber, 2019). Interacting with nature has enabled me to get inspiration and rejuvenation to complete my planned tasks.

My primary intelligence types are logical, naturalist, and visual. Understanding that students have varied minds and thus comprehend, perform, remember, and learn in different ways is crucial in developing lesson plans. I would use my mathematical intelligence to design the lesson plans to enhance the nine intelligence types. Nurturing multiple intelligences in students can enable them to learn new learning methods and use their dominant intelligence to acquire fresh information (Kornhaber, 2019). For instance, if I am teaching a Law and Justice class, I can address different intelligence modalities.

While teaching about personal insurance, I can ensure students use different types of intelligence during a course each week. For example, after teaching in a session, I can ask students to identify the key concepts from the descriptions of the content that has been taught, nurturing linguistic intelligence. In addition, the students can work in groups to deliver accurate graphical presentations based on local market data, enhancing logical-mathematical and interpersonal skills. The student can narrate their presentations in front of the class as each member is assigned a part of the presentation, encouraging their verbal skills. Furthermore, I can ask students to reflect on how course concepts apply to the general world and how the course can help them in their personal lives. Such questions can enable learners to use intrapersonal and existentialist modalities (Kornhaber, 2019). Ultimately, logical intelligence would allow me to develop comprehensive and accurate lesson plans that focus on developing the nine types of intelligence in a general unit.

Different learning styles can be used in the classroom, including visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. Visual learning involves showing students what they learn about in form of written directions, diagrams, and pictures. Students with spatial or visual intelligence can draw or use illustrations to process and interact with information. Assignments that encourage visual learning may ask students to use diagrams and pictures in their presentations. Auditory learning entails using sound to stimulate information retention. Auditory learning can nurture linguistic intelligence if students listen to lecture recordings or partake in discussions that allow voice narration. Reading/writing learning allows students to express themselves by writing or reading. Such learners can be supported by allowing them to write their answers in an essay (Dantas & Cunha, 2020). Finally, kinesthetic learning requires kinesthetic intelligence where students learn by activity or movement.

The theory of differentiated learning entails teachers tailoring instructions in course assignments and content to satisfy the individual needs of students. Differentiating instruction involves varying teaching to ensure the learning experience of a small group or an individual is the best. Teachers may differentiate instruction based on four elements in the classroom, including product, process, content, and the learning environment. Content is defined as the skills, concepts, and knowledge needed by students to learn. The process refers to activities that students engage in to make sense of and understand the course content while products are the ways students show what they have learned. Finally, the learning environment explains the climate, feel, and tone of the classroom required for a mutually supportive study (Akpan & Kennedy, 2020). Teachers can assess students for differentiated instruction using three traits: learning profile, readiness, and interest.

Students have multiple intelligences and learning styles which indicates that their ease of acquiring fresh information varies. Thus, differentiating instruction that integrates students’ learning styles and multiple intelligences can support all students to achieve their academic goals. Existing scholarship shows that average, disabled, and gifted students can receive effective knowledge in general classrooms through differentiated instruction. Therefore, differentiated instruction is vital to positively changing student performance as a one-strategy-fits-all framework does not work in current classrooms (Akpan & Kennedy, 2020). Differentiated instruction is important in various ways when integrated with the Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory.

Differentiated instruction assists teachers in addressing each student’s learning needs. It meets every learner’s academic needs by targeting characteristics such as learning profile, interest, and readiness. When teachers accommodate students using the readiness level, they can select a particular student who has understood lesson content and test their knowledge on the subject. In such a case, complicated projects can be assigned to a highly gifted student. When varying student needs are identified, teachers respond by finding solutions by applying the MI theory to different students. For example, when students are asked to write an argument essay on the worst natural disaster they have experienced. Some students may be comfortable with the topic while others may be uninterested. The learning outcome is to develop the skills required to create compelling arguments. Thus, a student interested in sports may write about what makes their favorite team the best in the world (Ismajli & Imami-Morina, 2018). Using such a strategy allows different students to write about their topics of interest while fulfilling the learning goal.

In addition, differentiated instruction enhances student achievement and allows teachers to creatively use different learning styles to accommodate various types of intelligence, making multiple choices available to students. As a result, disabled and average students can leverage their dominant intelligence and learning styles to improve student outcomes. In differentiated classrooms, students are motivated to learn when they are engaged and complete a task. The learning profile allows teachers to prioritize intelligence preference. For instance, teachers can differentiate tests when they have second language students (Ismajli & Imami-Morina, 2018). Using simple vocabulary can help second language learners understand test questions.


Akpan, B. & Kennedy, T.J. (Eds.). (2020). Science education in theory and practice: An introductory guide to learning theory. Springer.

Dantas, L. A., & Cunha, A. (2020). An integrative debate on learning styles and the learning process. Social Sciences & Humanities Open, 2(1), 100017.

Ismajli, H., & Imami-Morina, I. (2018). Differentiated instruction: Understanding and applying interactive strategies to meet the needs of all the students. International Journal of Instruction, 11(3), 207-218.

Kornhaber, M. L. (2019). The theory of multiple intelligences. In R. J. Stenberg (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of intelligence (2nd., pp. 659-678). Cambridge University Press.

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