The Effectiveness Of Multiple Intelligences

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between listening comprehension and multiple intelligences language teaching (MILT). Twelve experimental classes have been conducted involving eight students whose ages ranged from 7 to 9. One group worked with the MI program and the other group worked with traditional instruction. The Standard Listening Test, interviews, surveys, and student self-evaluations were used to analyze the data. Analysis of data revealed that there was a low positive relationship between listening scores and the MI program. Multiple intelligences language teaching encourages them to participate materials in accordance with learning preferences and their intelligences. These results provide significant implications for foreign language teachers to avoid improving only one intelligence type and to cover various intelligences types to satisfy all target students.

Traditionally, our schools and culture have focused most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. However, Dr. Gardner develops new points of view for the concept of human intelligences which consist of many different aptitudes and skills. Thus, people should also put the same consideration on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs. As a matter of a fact, many students who have these talents do not reach their potentials and do not receive much attention in school.

The MI program introduces a particular language educational concept in a way children can develop their language proficiency easily, quickly, and effectively. It provides the opportunity to learn in ways harmonious with their unique minds as well as ways that children are most likely to learn. It suggests that teachers should teach their lessons in a wide variety of ways using music, art activities, kinesthetic activities, cooperative learning, role play, multimedia, field trips, inner reflection, and much more to attract as many students who have different gifts as possible. Fortunately, many educators give attention to the theory of multiple intelligences, and hundreds of schools are currently using this methodology to reflect on their curriculum and redesign the syllabus.

The theory of MI assumes that people have at least seven different intelligences that human beings have in varying degrees. This research used a special MI checklist which was designed to test students on seven separate intelligence dimensions. Seven techniques to teach also helped them decide their preferred or dominant intelligences and supported the students to become more confident through seven corner activities during the experimental classes.

Successful experiences of the MI program could transfer other productive effects of learning. The MI program would be valuable that it could enhance each individual's potential and triumphant experiences through the curriculum which reflects different individual intelligences and diversification of teaching strategies.

The aim of this study is to observe whether students practicing listening through the MI program improve more than those students practicing with a traditional approach.

So the present study addresses the following question:

Are there any significant differences in listening comprehension between ESL learners using the "MI program" vs. ESL learners using traditional instruction?

Literature Review

In 1993, Howard Gardner published a book that challenge the way intelligence was perceived and studied until then. He criticized that intelligences had been focused too much on a single factor and genetic inheritance, via paper-and-pen tests. He instead insisted that human intelligences, the ability to solve problems, could not be evaluated exactly by traditional IQ tests. He suggested a Multiple Intelligence (MI) Theory, means that; all humans have multiple intelligences including mathematical, linguistic, musical, spatial, kinesthetic, intrapersonal, and interpersonal intelligences. The abilities vary depending on the individual.

The seven intelligences as suggested by Gardner (1993) are as follows:

a. Linguistic intelligence, which refers to the sensibility to the spoken and written word and the ability to use language to express meaning, and to motivate and persuade others to reach specific goals.

b. Mathematical intelligence, which refers to the ability to calculate, to comprehend functions, and to solve problems and other complex logical systems.

c. Musical intelligence, which refers to the sensitivity to tone, melody, rhythm and the ability to have a correct understanding of the forms of music and to create musical forms.

d. Spatial intelligence, which refers to the sensitivity to shape, color, line, space and the ability to utilize visual images accurately to create the visual world on paper.

e. Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence, which refers to the ability to use the body in a skilled way to communicate their ideas and specific physical skills such as balance, coordination and speed for self-expression or to accomplish a goal.

f. Interpersonal intelligence, which refers to the ability to comprehend other desires and motivations, and interact effectively to moods and situations.

g. Intrapersonal intelligence, which refers to the ability of self-knowledge for one's feelings, emotions, and beliefs to plan and direct one's life.

In later works Gardner (1999) applied the Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory in the educational field at institutions such as Arts Profel, Key School, and Project Spectrum. He introduced his educational proposal that each student could learn more successfully when being taught with focus on intelligence domains through his MI schools. He suggested that people should understand the multiple intelligences of each individual, develop his or her potential possibilities, and solve problems using strong intelligences. Furthermore, the MI theory contributed to the language development of students, helped them to improve their positive learning attitudes, and affected productive interaction between the teacher and students.

Gardner (1993) suggested four significant implications in the MI theory. He suggested that all people own seven intelligences and "most people can progress their intelligences to an average level" (1993, Gardner). Most people usually incorporate many intelligences at one time in complicated ways. There are various pathways to develop people's intelligences in each category.

The best way to design curriculum applying MI theory is by thinking about how we can translate the material from one intelligence to other intelligences (1993, Gardner). The following seven steps propose as efficient way to design curriculum units applying MI theory.

"The teacher may focus on a specific topic and ask key MI questions. Then, the teacher may consider the possibilities and brainstorm ideas and select appropriate activities. Finally, he or she may set up a sequential level and implement the plan" (1993, Gardner).

Since all students have different preferences in the seven intelligences, there are no perfect strategies to satisfy all students at all times. Applying a variety of teaching strategies can be a powerful tool to develop students because they have different intelligences, needs, and preferences. Lazear (1994) suggested the following some strategies by which intelligences can be taught.

Verbal /Linguistic intelligence

The useful strategies of linguistic intelligences may include storytelling, brainstorming, tape recording, poetry, debate, journal writing, and publishing.

Logical/mathematical intelligence

The effective strategies of mathematical intelligences may include calculations and quantifications, classifications, sequences, pattern games, and science thinking.

Visual/spatial intelligence

The valuable strategies of spatial intelligences may include visualization, mind-mapping, designs, idea sketching, and graphic symbols.

Bodily/kinesthetic intelligence

The helpful strategies of bodily/kinesthetic intelligences may include body answers, the Classroom Theater, kinesthetic concepts, body language, mime, and hands on thinking.

Musical intelligence

The useful strategies of musical intelligences may include using rhythms, songs, chants, discographies, humming, musical concepts, and music performances.

Interpersonal intelligence

The effective strategies of interpersonal intelligences may include peer sharing, people sculptures, cooperative groups, board games, person to person communications, and simulations.

Intrapersonal intelligence

The helpful strategies of intrapersonal intelligences may include one-minute reflection periods, concentration skills, choice time, feeling-tones moments, and goal setting sessions.

The MI program maximizes the efficiency of learning by using students multiple intelligences according to interest, strength, and aptitude. Many researches have investigated the relationship between language proficiency and the MI program.

Abdulkader (2009) suggested the effectiveness of the MI program employed in developing reading skills such as word recognition skills and reading comprehension skills in 60 fifth grade learning disabled students. Furthermore, the MI program can optimize motivation and enhance memory acceleration (Suan, 2009). MI activities may enhance the learning process in the employment of learning strategies based on mathematical intelligence such as analyzing sentences and learning strategies based on interpersonal intelligence such as discussion.

Kim (2008) investigated the positive influences of MI theory on Korean schools by in-depth and focus group interviews. The students who participated MI program developed positive learning attitude and self-esteem and expanded students' intelligence profile.

Im (2003) advocated that there was significant correlation between test scores and spatial, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligence and a significant difference in students' interest, readiness, participation in class and self-directed learning attitude. "There was no significant difference in test scores between the midterm exam and final exam but there was a significant difference in MI portfolio assessment scores between the first and the last assessment" (Im, 2003).

However, there are few researches about listening skills using the MI program contrary to reading and writing skills. It is significant to show the relation of Multiple Intelligences Theory and listening skills for ESL learners. Listening is a powerful skill which enhances the other skills in second language learning. "Listening and reading are secondary skills, means to other ends, rather than ends in themselves" (1999, Nunan). It is natural for a native speaker to have automatic listening skills, contrary to ESL learners.

Choi (2000) suggested that listening ability and attitude would be improved through the MI Program. He proposed that the MI program was a successful for EFL students to improve speaking and listening skills and make students participate dynamically in a learning procedure with a confidence. The participants tried to use many words and spoke loudly and clearly during their presentation. Their comprehension of listening improved.

Saricaoglu (2009) advocated the idea that there was a significant relationship between a particular type of intelligence and achievement in grammar, listening, and reading. His result showed that there was a high positive relationship between listening scores and musical intelligences. Kim (2002) found that communicative competence including listening and speaking improved by applying the MI program for 5th grade students. The MI instruction group showed a significant improvement in listening and speaking scores rather than in traditional instruction group.

The research is strongly needed to investigate listening skills using the MI program for ESL/EFL learners since listening is difficult and a significant basic skill for ESL learners contrary to native speakers. That is the reason that the listening skills results about MI researches in the other countries such as Korea, Turkey, and Japan are more than English speaking countries.



Eight students (four male) with high beginner proficiency level participated in the present study. Participants were chosen by the researcher as having the same native language (Korean) and similar English proficiency through a diagnosis test. The participants, whose ages ranged from 7 to 9, have been in the United States less than 6 months. Students were randomly classified into two groups: one group worked with the MI program and the other group worked with the traditional instruction.


The MI program was conducted for lasting 45 minutes each session, two times per week, for six weeks. Both groups were taught with the same frequency. Over these sessions the students of one group learned from a textbook using the MI program. The students completed MI activities by listening to other students' speak and by speaking their ideas. Instructional methods based on the MI theory were devised, applied, and redesigned to the target students. In addition, students were allowed to work together the MI activities, and the instructor gave assistance and modeling. The seven intelligences were employed in all sessions, such as brainstorming, mathematical problem solving, using illustrations, making signs, role play, body movement, song and chant, collaborative working, evaluating own thinking, and individual reflection. During the first session (first three weeks), students experienced all seven MI groups. During the second session (the next 3 weeks), students were allowed to choose the Multiple Intelligences activities they wanted.

The other group was taught by traditional instruction with a text book, such as reading aloud, doing questions and answers, and filling out handouts. Teacher-centered learning, such as traditional mini lessons about book context was conducted.

3. Materials and data collection

To carry out the experiment, books were redesigned and curriculum was developed by focusing on a specific topic and key MI questions. Also, appropriate MI activities were set up sequentially according to students' interest, proficiency level, and need. An instructional method based on the multiple intelligences theory was devised and applied. For the traditional instruction, the lesson plan was implemented in advance according to students' level and materials and assessment were developed in advance.

The standard listening test of the Korea Minister of Education was conducted for reliable data of the pre-test and post-test. It included the content of experiment teaching with a total score of 100. In addition, the research employed both structured and unstructured interviews, and student self-evaluations. After the experiment, a survey was administered and the effectiveness and the learning outcome of the experimental method will be analyzed.


The question in this study investigated the differences in listening scores between MI instruction and traditional instruction. The researcher used a pre-test and post-test of listening comprehension to verify this question.

The table 1 shows that there is little difference in post test scores between MILT and traditional instruction. The pre-test mean of MILT was 82.0 points and the pre-test mean of traditional instruction was 83.0 points. The table shows that there are positive differences in post-test mean scores between the experimental group (M = 87.5) and the control group ( M = 85.0) in the listening test.

Table 1. pre-test and post test result between MILT and Traditional Instruction


Traditional Instruction



post test



post test





































The chart below shows that both groups improved their listening scores in the post -test. The mean of both group's pretest was 82.5 and that of post test was 86.3. However, the MI group achieved slightly more gains in listening test scores, compared to the control group.

Chart 1. The comparison between pretest and post test of each group

The researcher used the T-test to examine the direction of this significance. The data shows that there is a low relationship between the post-test scores and MILT (p<.0.37). The SD of both groups were similar. SD of Multiple intelligence group was 2.52 and SD of traditional instruction group was 2.58.

Table 2. T-test results for the differences in post test scores between experimental and control groups in the listening test.











Traditional instruction





The main objective of the present study was to explore whether there were significant differences in the listening test between using MI Program and traditional program. Results indicated that there was a low positive relationship between listening scores and the MI program. Choi (2000), Saricaoglu (2009), and Kim (2002) showed a high positive relationship between an increase in listening scores and the MI program. Contrary to their research, applying the MI program might contribute to improving listening comprehension, but there was no high positive correlation due to the short research period.

According to their interviews, surveys, and observations of class, they participated in MI learning actively compared to the traditional classes. Also, they reported more boredom when they were taught according to only one intelligence type. These results provide significant implications for foreign language teachers to avoid improving only one intelligence type of the students and to cover various intelligence types to satisfy all target students.

This study's question was on the relationship between the MI instruction and listening comprehension between ESL learners. The result showed a low positive relationship. The findings including students' interviews and a survey suggested that multiple intelligences language teaching (MILT) can be applied to ESL learners' English classes. MILT allows students to participate in tailor-made study and content to customize it to their interests. This attempt provides students with a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and positive learning attitudes. Children participated more actively and it promoted their interaction among other students. Ultimately, it slightly developed their listening competence.

Thus, further studies should be conducted about the relationship between listening skills and MI instruction including long term research and more participants. Furthermore, it would be meaningful research if it finds any relationship and analysis of intelligences types and students' success in language skills including listening, speaking, reading, and writing.