Human development and individual differences

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Being smart is no longer determined by a score on a test; being smart is determined by how well students learn in a variety of ways (Hoerr, 2000, p. 1). So, it is importance that we identify and improve all of the different human intelligences, and all of the structures of intelligences. Therefore, we are all having big difference because we all have different types or styles of intelligences. Gardner thinks that if we identify this, we will have a good opportunity for dealing appropriately with the many problems that we live in the real life (Gardner, 1987).

There are many definition of intelligence. Ormrod defines intelligence is the ability to apply prior knowledge and experiences flexibly to accomplish challenging new task. On other hand, in Frames of Mind Howard Gardner (1983) describes intelligence as the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings. Also Wechsler says "Intelligence is the aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally and to deal effectively with his environment (1944, p. 3)."

Gardner described a set of criteria to identify what types of skills develop intelligence. The theory of Gardner defines a starting point for thinking about human intelligence and to discuss why a student does well in one kind but not in another. He suggests that people have a ninth distinctly different abilities that are relatively independent of one another called multiple intelligences. Multiple intelligence theory (MI) illustrates a practical method to how we identify intelligence and encourage us to use our students' strengths to learning (Hoerr, 2000).

My research paper describes Gardener's theory of multiple intelligences (MI theory), the purpose is how can improve students' learning performance through use of multiple intelligences. In fact, MI theory explained seven types of intelligences. After that, Gardner suggests two more intelligences in Intelligence Reframed (1999). The ninth intelligences: Verbal/Linguistic, Logical/Mathematical, Visual/Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalistic, and Existential.

Literature reviews

Gardner defines intelligence as the ability to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural or community settings. He relates intelligence to societal expectations and values and sees such terms as giftedness, creativity, and genius as labels given to those who exhibit high achievement in areas that the culture values. He does not deny that biological factors have an influence on intelligence but suggests that family and cultural influences play an important role in the development of the child's intellect (Oliver, 1997). On other hand, Gardner (2004) indicates that it may be timely to reconsider the relationship between IQ (general intelligence) and multiple intelligences theory.According to Lazear (1994) found that the teachers need to focus in students' thinking and learning skills; their intellectual and social progress; their capacity to transfer and apply classroom learning to life; and their creative problem-solving abilities in their assessment of students' achievement.

Gardner (1991), cognitive research documents the extent to which students possess different types of intelligences and therefore learn, remember, apply, and understand in different methods. These differences challenge an educational system that assumes everyone can learn the same materials in the same way and that a uniform, universal measure suffices to test student learning.

Kagan and Kagan (1998) described MI theory as a powerful "catalyst" in education, "It is revitalizing the search for more authentic, student-centered approaches to curriculum, instruction, and assessment" (p.23). In other word, MI theory can be used to meet three visions: (a) to match teaching to the ways student learn, (b) to encourage students to "stretch" their abilities to develop all their intelligences as fully as possible, and (c) to honor diversity".

Moreover, MI helps teachers develop the education process and expand their teaching program to include different range of techniques, tools, and strategies teaching for reaching more diverse range of learners (Campbell, 1997; Standford, 2003).

Also, Standford (2003) argue that MI theory gives method for accomplishing what good teachers have always done and give varied opportunities for students to learn. He think multiple intelligence theory draws a framework for teachers to reflect on their best teaching strategies and to understand why these strategies work or why they work well for some students but not for others.

Armstrong (1994) indicates that four elements be considered. First, each person has all eight intelligences. Each person has abilities in all eight intelligences. Second, the eight intelligences function together in ways unique to each person. Third, some people appear to possess extremely high levels of functioning in all or most of the eight intelligences, yet others appear to lack all but the most basic aspects of the intelligences. Fourth, Most fall somewhere in between highly developed in some intelligences, mostly developed in others, and relatively underdeveloped in the rest.

Thomas Hoerr argues that the theory of multiple intelligences (MI) is more than a theory of intellect. For us, it has become a philosophy of education with implications for the roles of educators, parents, and community members. "MI has helped us frame our curriculum, develop new assessment techniques, work closely with our students' parents, and grow together as a faculty" (p. 8).

Sauer (1998) noted that the popularity of Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences within the field of education has led many teachers to adopt it as a framework for the development of curriculum and classroom methodology. Wu & Alrabah (2009) says:"One of the major differences between traditional methods of teaching and more contemporary ones is that modern teaching methods always strive to better accommodate individual differences among learners. Intelligence was once seen as the ability to perform well on linguistic and logical mathematical problem solving" ( P. 395). Also, Su-ching Lin (2009) explain the importance of theory as way in improve teaching and learning in a multiplicity of ways, each of the eight intelligence is present to different degrees in a learner, with some intelligences being better developed than others.

Gardener's Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI Theory)

Howard Gardner defined the first seven intelligences in frames of mind (1983). He added the last two in intelligence reframed (1999). Howard Gardner claims that all human beings have multiple intelligences. These multiple intelligences can be nurtured and strengthened, or ignored and weakened. He believes each individual has nine intelligences

The eight multiple intelligences put forward by Gardner include the following (Armstrong, 2000):

Verbal/Linguistic: The ability to use words and languages effectively, whether orally or in writing such as: write stories, tell jokes, play word games and use words to create images. Teachers can improve that intelligence by encouraging discussion, dialogue, making oral presentations.

Logical-mathematical: The ability to work with numbers effectively: collect and organize, analyze situations and reason well. Teachers can strengthen this intelligence by using computer programming languages, critical thinking activities, logic puzzles, use Venn diagrams to compare and contrast and ask students to show sequences.

Visual/Spatial: The ability to doodle, paint or draw, create three-dimensional representations. They are good at reading diagrams and maps and enjoy solving jigsaw puzzles. Teachers can draw maps; provide opportunities to show understanding through drawing and utilizing charts, graphs, diagrams, videotapes, art activities, microscopes and computer graphics software.

Bodily-kinesthetic: Expertise in using one's body to express ideas and feelings and facility in using one's hands to produce or transform things. These people like to play sports and be physically active and play with mechanical. They often express themselves through dance. Teachers can provide tactile and movement activities, role playing, "hands-on" activities, facial expressions, physical relaxation and allow students to move while working.

Musical intelligence: the ability to and play music; match feelings to rhythm; create and replicate tunes. Teachers can encourage students' musical intelligence by playing music for the class, creating musical mnemonics and rewrite song lyrics to teach a concept.

Interpersonal intelligence: The ability to make distinctions in the moods, intentions, and feelings of other people. They enjoy many friends; lead, share; help others with their problems and have a good communication and interaction skills. Teachers can use cooperative learning; assign group project; give students opportunities for peer teaching and brainstorm solutions.

Intrapersonal intelligence: Self-knowledge and the ability to act adaptively on the basis of that knowledge, ability to know oneself, and learn through observing, listening and use meta-cognition skills. Teachers can assign reflective activities, involve students in writing journals and help students set and monitor personal goals.

Naturalist intelligence: the ability to spend time outdoors; collect plants, rock, animals; classify flora and fauna. To help students develop this intelligence, teachers can use outdoors as a classroom; using relationships among systems of species, and conduct hands-on experiments. Encourage the study of relationships such as patterns and order, and compare-and-contrast sets of groups or look at connections to real life and science issues.

Existential Intelligence -- sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why do we die, and how did we get here (Armstrong, 2009).

MI theory and improve students' learning:

Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences resonates so strongly for many educators because it offers a model for acting on what we believe: all students have strengths. A lot of students taught to focus on the subject and memorizing to concentrate on helping students respond to the curriculum; "MI, however, is a student-centered model in which the curriculum is often modified to fit the students. Rather than relying upon a linguistic filter and requiring students to write to show their grasp of skills and information, teachers using MI can allow students to use their strengths to demonstrate what they have learned" (Hoerr, 2000, p. 5).

Believing in and using MI means that educators must be aware of students' strengths and weaknesses in the various intelligences; in other world, educators must know their students. MI becomes a tool to help students learn information and to enable them to demonstrate their understanding. To use MI effectively, teachers need to know each student's strongest and weakest intelligences.

Hoerr assume that "Knowing each student, teachers can design curriculum and present instruction in ways that allow students to use their strengths, although few lessons will offer eight routes to learning" (p. 18)

The Teacher's Role and MI as a way to help more students succeed, the other reason that educators have been so receptive to the theory is that it validates their role as professionals. Using MI is at the other end of the spectrum from working with "teacher proof" materials that direct teachers' every action. Teachers who use MI develop curriculum and assessment tools and are creative in their pedagogy. And teachers who use MI usually do so with others, working and learning as colleagues. In this way, "implementing MI becomes a route to developing or extending professionalism among teachers" (P.78). Consequently, an important step in using the theory of multiple intelligences is to determine the nature and quality of our multiple intelligences and seek ways to develop them in our lives (Armstrong, 1994).

Assessing students multiple intelligences

No test can accurately identify the nature or quality of a person's intelligence. As Howard Gardner has repeatedly pointed out, standardized tests measure only a small part of the total spectrum of abilities. The best way to assess your own multiple intelligences, therefore, is "through a realistic appraisal of your performance in the many kinds of tasks, activities, and experiences associated with intelligence" (Armstrong, 1994, p. 21). The single best tool for assessing student's multiple intelligences, however, is probably one readily available to all of us: simple observation. He suggested to teachers that one good way to identify students most highly developed intelligences is to observe how they misbehave in class. For examples, the strongly linguistic student will be talking out of turn, the highly spatial student will be doodling and daydreaming, the interpersonally inclined student will be socializing, the bodily - kinesthetic student will be fidgeting, and the naturalistically engaged student might well bring an animal to class without permission! A second way to know how student can learn most effectively is observing students activities and how they spend their free time in school. In other words, what do they do when nobody is telling them what to do (Armstrong, 2009)?

In addition to observation, there are several other excellent ways to get assessment information about students multiple intelligences:

Collect documents: photos, school works and audio and video sample

Look at school records

Talk with other teachers

Talk with parents

We can also evaluate student through smart checklists or multiple intelligence survey. They can be used as a guide to identify students' intelligent. 

The table provides a brief descriptions of the capacities of students who display proclivities in specific intelligences, keep in mind, however, that most students have strengths in several areas, so you can avoid pigeon holing a student in only one intelligence. You will probably find each student pictured in two or more of these intelligence descriptions.

Eight ways of learning

Children who are highly..




In words

Reading, writing, playing word games


By reasoning

Experimenting, questioning, logical puzzles, calculating


In mages and pictures

Drawing, designing, visualizing


Through somatic sensations

Dancing, running, building


Via rhythms and melodies

Singing, listening, tapping feet and hands


By bouncing ideas off other people

Leading, organizing, mediating, partying


In relation tom their needs, feeling, goals

Setting goals, dreaming, planning, reflecting

Armsrtong argue that the theory of multiple intelligences is an especially good model for looking at teaching strengths as well as for examining areas needing improvements. He suggest avoid drawing pictures on the board or stay away from using highly graphic materials in your presentations because spatial intelligence is not particularly well developed in your life. Or possibly you gravitate toward cooperative learning strategies activities because you are an interpersonal or naturalist sort of learner/ teacher yourself. "Use MI theory to survey your own teaching style, and see how it matches up with the eight intelligences" (1994, p.21).


Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences is interesting and meaningful way to account for the knowledge that: "we are not all the same, we do not all have the same kinds of minds, and education works most effectively for most individuals if...human differences are taken seriously" (Gardner, 1995, p. 208). Today, Traditional teaching strategies depend on logical and verbal abilities and neglect improves the other students' abilities, but MI encourages teachers to develop learners' abilities in various intelligences. For examples, when display the curriculum through the framework of multiple intelligence, teacher can determine student's strengths and weaknesses then incorporate the ninth intelligences into their subjects. Students are then acquiring a variety of experiences and skills which can be translated into higher learning outcomes.

Insert and integrate Gardner's Multiple Intelligences into the curriculum gives opportunities for meaningful learning and gives the gift of wholeness to all who pass this way. In addition, MI theory is a method of thinking; it is an attitude about students which allows for similarities and differences. It allows for inclusion and enrichment, for self-esteem building and the development of respect for each individual and the giftedness in classroom. Hoerr (2000) demonstrate that MI theory can be a powerful tool for motivate students, but using it effectively requires teachers to organize the time and energy to understand MI theory and then decide how it can be used in curriculum development, learning, and assessment.

As a result, the most important things why some students cannot learn? To solve this problem, we need to motivate teachers to think about how to teach through different ways and how they can assess students using multiple methods to assessment for learning rather than using only formal paper tests. Also, we need to focus on lesson plan using the theory of multiple intelligences, and insert different resources that teachers can use to apply the MI into their classroom activities, so we can use MI theory as a planning tool.



I think MI theory describes a set of important points which teachers can create interesting curriculum. In fact, the theory provides a context within which teachers can address any skill, content area, theme, or instructional objective and develop at least eight ways to teach it. The best way to develop curriculum by using the theory of multiple intelligences is by thinking about how can convert the material to be taught from intelligence to another. For example, how can we take a linguistic symbol system and convert into the languages of other intelligences such as pictures, physical or musical, logical concepts, social interactions, intrapersonal connections and naturalistic associations.

We can use MI theory as tools for effective learning and teaching method to change what happen today in the most of schools beyond the traditional methods such as: lecture, textbooks, assignments and memorization. Gardner's theory can provide a teacher the direction to improve a student's learning styles in any given intelligence but before that I think teachers start to know students strengths and weaknesses in classrooms. However, teachers begin to plan lessons in terms of meeting the needs of different of the intelligence that is mean, draw new lesson plan by using MI strategies.

From this new method, any school wants to reach for learning community try to apply a multiple intelligences curriculum with a high degree of collaboration between leadership and teachers to developing learning.

Talking about students from the viewpoint of multiple intelligences is a good way to focus on how they learn best. Each teacher has a different perspective, and by sharing their observations teachers can more quickly get to know their students' strengths. Sometimes the easiest way to identify students' strongest intelligences is to give them choices and observe what they select. Most students, indeed most people, choose the route that allows them to use their most developed intelligences. Finally, I think all teachers should identifying and encouraging the use of multiple intelligences in schools to develop and improve the students learning process to reach for the common goals that is developing learners.