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Multiple Intelligences Theory was developed by Howard Gardner in 1983 which suggests that all humans understand and perceive the world in different ways (Learning-Theories.com 2007-2013). Howard described them as seven intelligences which are Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Visual-Spatial, Body-Kinesthetic, Musical-Rhythmic, Interpersonal (insight, metacognition) and Intrapersonal (social skills). The theory of multiple intelligences applies to all ages. This theory defines human nature from a cognitive perspective i.e. all humans have personal styles and preferences to learn and develop and implies that people have preferred learning styles, behavioural and working styles. Therefore teaching strategies, learning resources and activities should appeal to different types of intelligence learners represent and should encourage learners to use their preferred intelligences in learning (instructionaldesign.org, Multiple Intelligences (H. Gardner) .
This theory implies that we are all intelligent in different ways and any individual may possess one type of intelligence and a mixture of intelligences. From the teacher's point of view, all learners have their own strengths and weaknesses, so teaching, designed and planned according to their strengths and preferences, will not only stimulate their development but also build their confidence. Teaching learners with a mixture of intelligence types can be hugely challenging. All learners have different levels of abilities and potential and it is vital to address the multiple intelligences of the learners in order to help them develop and fulfil their potential.
Logical -Mathematical learners like reasoning, calculating whereas visual-spatial learners think in terms of physical space and enjoy illustrations and pictures. They are very conscious of their environments. Bodily-kinesthetic learners learn best through movement and like making things, touching and role play. Interpersonal learners like interacting with others and learn best through cooperative activities whereas Intrapersonal learners are independent and understand one's own interests and goals. They understand their inner feelings; intuition and motivation, confidence and opinions. According to Gardner, verbal-linguistic learners enjoy expressing themselves orally and in writing. They often think in words and like reading, playing word games, making up stories etc.
It can be very challenging to teach and satisfy different types of learning styles. The important thing is for teachers to understand that all learners have different ways of learning and doing things and therefore need classroom activities and techniques which appeal to their intelligence type. I strongly feel that a careful selection and use of classroom activities that cater for different types of intelligence profiles of the learners can encourage learning and at the same time provide meaningful and enjoyable learning environment.
Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences claims that there are numerous ways in which people learn to gain knowledge and understand the universe. Reber (1995) defines a cognitive style as 'the characteristic style or manner in which cognitive tasks are approached or handled'. Thus an individual's cognitive style reflects his or her preferred manner of perceiving, remembering and thinking (TPPEL Reading 3.1 Individual differences and Learning). This theory identifies seven different ways in which a student might learn and provides some ideas on how to apply multiple intelligences to ESOL learners so that teaching methods appeal to their intelligence type and they all have the same opportunity to learn and develop.
This theory can be applied to teaching ESL students because they all have their own preferred way of learning that is determined by their cultural and educational background and their personalities. In order to apply this theory to ESL students, you need to observe and communicate effectively with your students to determine their types of intelligences because each intelligence also identifies a specific learning style which can help you choose appropriate teaching methods and plan effectively to reflect different intelligences in your classroom.
Teaching strategies to meet multiple intelligences should include a variety of teaching strategies. Independent and group work provides opportunities to respond to different intelligence types and enhance learning because some students might be strong in interpersonal intelligence whereas others in intrapersonal intelligence. Group work providing body movement activities also helps bodily-kinaesthetic students. Effective planning should incorporate multiple intelligences teaching methods as some students might learn through more than one. For example, a student who is strongly verbal-linguistic might also have strong visual-spatial and interpersonal intelligences. Effective way to implement teaching methods (e.g. a lesson on job interview) to cater for these multiple intelligences can include some vocabulary (linguistic learner) or a video clip (visual-spatial) and a job interview role-play (interpersonal).
Bodily-Kinaesthetic Intelligence learners like working with their hands and can't sit still for long time. Teaching method should combine body movement activities with linguistic activities. Total Physical Response is a good method for them. They remember material best if they act it out.
Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence learners learn through using language effectively both in speaking and writing. They enjoy expressing themselves orally and in writing and doing different kinds of word games. Teaching method should focus on using language which should include reading a text or a book aloud or tell a story, debate a current issue. The Language Experience Approach (LEA) will be good for teaching reading skills. These students will also benefit from whole language approaches to reading. The Interpersonal Intelligence learners like group activities. They like talking to other people or like teaching people what they know. Teaching method should focus on cooperative learning strategies allowing students to work with others to carry out the tasks and complete activities. The Intrapersonal Intelligence learners prefer to work individually, therefore teaching method should focus on providing independent tasks and activities. Visual-Spatial Intelligence learners like drawing, reading books that have lots of illustrations, doing puzzles and mazes. visual clues can help them to remember language.
There are a variety of teaching strategies that can be used to improve learning. Creating intelligence-based lessons can help all students to understand and develop their abilities and strengths as well as work on their weaknesses. This will build their confidence and boost their achievement. It is very important for teachers to adapt lessons to meet and develop different intelligences in the classroom to enhance learning and facilitate second language learning.
The theory of multiple intelligences claims that we are all different in the ways we understand and perceive the world. Although it will be difficult to incorporate all intelligences into one lesson, I would try to integrate resources and materials which will allow students to work according to their multiple intelligences as much as possible. Careful selection and design of suitable resources is important for making sure that each intelligence learning style is addressed at some point. Below are some suggestions for working with different intelligence types in adult ESL classroom which are organized by multiple intelligences (Alan Chapman 2003-2012). Language exercises respond to linguistic, intrapersonal and also interpersonal learners.
Verbal-Linguistic learners learn best through reading and writing and enjoy telling stories and thinking in words. Basically they learn effectively through using words i.e. hearing and seeing words and also enjoy talking, so learning activities could include debates, discussions, role play, reading and writing tasks, word games and crosswords. Other suitable activities could be oral presentations, writing letters, stories or instructions. Visual-Spatial learners enjoy learning by looking at pictures, flashcards. They learn best through working with pictures, colours and visualizing. Use of videos, visualization (posters, leaflets), colours, jigsaw puzzles and text with illustrations would be effective.
Bodily-Kinaesthetic learners like to move around and act things out. They are tactile i.e. they learn by touching and manipulating objects. Learning activities could include role play, hands-on experience, construct "human sentences" to practice punctuation or word order, playing board games and following instructions to make something. Interpersonal learners are intuitive and are strong in understanding people, leading and organizing groups, communicating and persuading. They learns best by working with others, socialising, sharing, comparing, and interviewing. Activities and resources such as co-operative tasks, group projects, interviewing, role play will build interactions amongst learners and therefore promote a sense of sharing and interaction. Peer coaching and discussions or debates will also work well with these learners.
Intrapersonal learners are logical and strong in understanding self, recognizing strengths and weaknesses, setting goals. Intrapersonal learners enjoy working alone and like to pursue their own interests independently, therefore effective learning resources and activities would be making a diary, listening to audio tapes, independent reading or research.
For example, a lesson on healthy eating including resources such as whiteboard, smartboard, picture and word cards, word search or cross, online self-assessment questionnaires, PowerPoint presentation, Internet for search and word processor for typing, leaflets or posters etc can respond to multiple intelligences in your classroom. Activities in this lesson can be surveys, interviewing, matching, Find Someone Who, making a poster, reading a leaflet or a text in silence or aloud, making a list in groups or individually, write about own eating habits, express likes and dislikes etc. and they can develop different types of intelligences of your learners: verbal-linguistic, naturalistic, visual-spatial, musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal.
As a teacher, I think of my learners as individuals who represent many different ways of understanding, learning and developing skills and therefore need different types of classroom activities and approaches. Awareness of their abilities, strengths and weaknesses, styles and preferences will help you determine different intelligences you have in your classroom and plan teaching and learning resources based on the preferred multiple intelligence learning styles. Accommodating multiple intelligences of your ESL students in the selection and design of resources will significantly affect student's learning and success.
Choice of assessment methods
Gardner's theory (1985) proposes that all humans possess many different ways of knowing, understanding, and learning about our world. As a teacher, it is important for me to be aware of how my learners learn and develop skills according to their intelligence. My students demonstrates so many different individual strengths and weaknesses.
MI theory offers teachers many suggestions to examine their assessment techniques in the light of intelligence differences. The teacher needs to develop different assessment techniques to address different intelligences and focus on the type of intelligences being developed in the lesson. Pen-and-paper assessment methods work well the linguistic intelligence whereas "survey or interview" responds to the bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence as well as the interpersonal intelligence. Mostly assessment tasks include quizzes, reading comprehensions, and writing tasks, which work best with verbal-linguistic learners.
I use open questions frequently to check learners' understanding which, I feel, is a very effective method of assessment. When my students are working in small groups, I ask each member of the group a different question or ask them to comment or explain the answers given by others.
To address different learning styles, it's important to ask different types of questions. A comprehension question can be used to assess Intrapersonal or verbal-linguistic learners to write a short text about a familiar topic or do a reading comprehension. To assess bodily-kinaesthetic learners, I might ask the student to stand up and interview other learners, describe a picture either verbally or in writing (visual-spatial), "How can you .....?" (Intrapersonal learners).
Asking different kinds of questions allows students to express themselves and demonstrate their learning in their preferred way. Varying questioning techniques helps me to cater for various types of intelligences, because each student has individual way of learning and developing skills. I ensure that all the students have the opportunity to answer a different type of question.
In order to support multiple intelligences and different learning styles in the classroom, it's important to incorporate written assessment like tests and homework and it contributes towards making your classroom friendly for all types of learners.
How can you tell if your students really understand? (Maggie Meyer and Jenna Glock, 2004) Howard Gardner's MI theory offers some useful suggestions in designing our lessons and assessments based on the multiple intelligences so that all students have the opportunity to learn, succeed and demonstrate achievement. When students have choices in ways to demonstrate their understanding, the evidence is more accurate.
Students can choose from a variety of ways, designed by implementing the multiple intelligences, to demonstrate their understanding of learning outcomes. Many teachers use true/ false, multiple choice, and short answer tests to assess students' knowledge and skills but they do not really give an accurate evidence of what students have learnt and whether they can reflect their learning and knowledge in practical ways.
Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences proposes that each student has his or her own intellectual, strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, many different types of intelligences and learning styles can be found within a classroom and in order to get an accurate picture of the students' strengths and weaknesses, appropriate assessment methods should be used.
Therefore, it is important to have an intelligence profile for each student which will enable the teacher to employ appropriate methods of assessment. Traditional tests (e.g., multiple choice, comprehension text or writing tasks) do not allow students to show their knowledge in their own ways. Students should be given opportunities based on Multiple Intelligences to demonstrate their understanding and knowledge in their own preferred ways. Assessment methods might include presentations, independent work, group discussions / projects, peer assessment, sequencing, matching and tasks involving use of ICT.
Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences implies that students may be weak in one area but they may be strong in other areas. Teachers should be aware of the great diversity in the intelligence types and learning styles of the students which could be influenced by their social, economic, cultural and educational background and can have a significant effect on student's learning process. I feel that assessing learning, taking into consideration different intelligences, helps students to successfully participate in classroom learning.
Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences theory assesses seven different types of intelligence which indicate that people have their own individual way of understanding, learning, performing and developing skills. These intelligences are verbal/Linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual/spatial, music/rhythmic, body/kinaesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal. Gardner suggests that all of the intelligences must be addressed in teaching in order for learning to be effective but it can be difficult to apply this in every lesson. Nevertheless, the teachers should try to address these intelligences as much as possible.
The teacher should be aware of the fact that all students are unique and have their own individual abilities, interests, characteristics and strengths. Understanding students will enhance their progress considerably. Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences offers useful ideas to address a range of intelligences and styles. Teachers need to take into account a wide range of learners in their planning to ensure inclusive learning environment. Therefore, teaching strategies and learning materials need to be matched with individual student's intelligence type. First of all, as a teacher, you identify your students' strengths and weaknesses and their personal way of learning i.e. learners with leadership qualities, logical thinking and intuitive, sociable, inquisitive learners etc. Questionnaires can provide useful information about multiple intelligences in your classroom. Structured planning should include a variety of ways to present materials (visual, multimedia), incorporate peer and group work, real-life situations activities, access to technology providing a range of opportunities for students to demonstrate learning.
Including a variety of approaches to teaching and learning can make a significant difference to learning environment enabling different types of learners to successfully engage in their learning and the process of learning becomes more inclusive which supports widening participation and increases achievement. Individual differences and needs of students should reflect in teaching instruction and learning activities and must be relevant, challenging, meaningful and engaging. The following suggestions include presenting material in different format and styles. For example, for a spelling activity in an ESOL Entry 1 class, students may choose to write the missing letters, label the pictures, write the words, use letters to make the words, spell words in a team or individually. Such activities take into consideration multiple intelligences and learning styles. This allows students to use their own strengths. Another example include a reading activity, for which students can read on their own/aloud, re-tell the story, answer the questions individually or in a team, sort out the story in the correct order or match text with the illustrations.
A learner-centred approach responds well to cater for diversity in the students as all students do not learn in the same way i.e. bodily-kinaesthetic learner prefers learning through touch/movement and hands-on learning is important for them. A visual learner, on the other hand, would prefer to see information in images or pictures. Interpersonal learners enjoy interacting with others, therefore, they work best in groups and through discussion with others. These learners can work equally well in groups or on their own whereas intrapersonal learners prefer to solve problems independently.
It is crucial to provide materials and activities that address the multiple learning styles and enable students to make choices because students come from a variety of ethnic, cultural, social and educational backgrounds. Teachers can improve the learning environment for their students by planning tasks so that different intelligences are catered for.
The possible impact on the progress and achievement of learners.
(Workshop: Tapping into Multiple Intelligences) Applying Gardner's MI theory helps students learn better because they realise and understand how they are intelligent. In Gardner's view, learning is both a social and psychological process. When students understand the balance of their own multiple intelligences they begin to manage their own learning and to value their individual strengths. Teachers understand how students are intelligent as well as how intelligent they are. Awareness of students' strengths in particular intelligence will help the teacher to plan opportunities for the students to have choices to work in their preferred way.
Howard Gardner's Theory of "multiple intelligences" proposes people develop different intelligences which influence their way of thinking and learning. It is important for the teacher to identify individual differences (strengths, preferences, and abilities) through careful observation and plan instruction, focused on multiple intelligences, to provide opportunities for students to experience and work with different kinds of material in different ways. Fostering different types of intelligences will make learning environment interesting, meaningful and engaging for all students. Using multiple intelligence teaching techniques increases student motivation, enhances learning and therefore, raises students' achievement.
The activities which allow students to learn in their preferred ways increases their self esteem as well as achievement. For example, verbal/linguistic students can be given activities including discussion, presentation , communication, proofreading, listening, creative writing and reading aloud whereas students who are body/kinaesthetic, can be given hands on experiments activities, role-plays and interview activities involving room arrangement and cooperative groups activities. Cooperative and leading a group discussion learning activities work well with interpersonal students whereas independent work which involves focus and concentration skills responds well to intrapersonal students. The aim of multiple intelligences based activities is to enable students to realise their learning potential and build on their strengths, so that students stay motivated and feel successful in their learning.
The class I observed was ESOL Entry 1 which had a very mixed group of students. The class consisted of 15 students between the ages of 25 and 65. 60% percent of students were Muslim from different nationalities- India, Iraq Kurds, Afghanistan and Somalia including 3 Gujarati learners and 1 Sikh learner. There was a great diversity in their educational and employment backgrounds. Most of them were unemployed but looking for work. There was a mix of men (6) and women (9). Some had spent 20 or more years in the UK and some came recently. Some have had no education in their countries of origin, some have never worked and some have had work experience in their native countries and also in the UK. One thing they all have in common is the need and desire to be able to communicate effectively in day to day life situations. However, they have very diverse levels of English language abilities and therefore have diverse learning goals.
Before the observation, I talked with the teacher about her students and the things I would focus on. The topic of the lesson was job interviews to prepare students for the forthcoming speaking and listening exam as well as provide experience for real life situations. During my observation, my focus was on communication in the classroom. It was very interesting to see a very high level of interaction amongst the students and how everyone seemed so motivated and actively engaged in learning. When I entered the classroom, the teacher introduced me and then teacher began the lesson with showing some pictures and PowerPoint slides of job interview. To introduce the topic, the teacher asked learners some questions which they discussed with each other and in groups. The teacher asked the students to predict what they were going to learn which promoted student engagement as well as thought. While the teacher was introducing new vocabulary, all students were listening attentively.
Some students had very limited knowledge of English, nevertheless it was amazing to see them enjoying their learning experience. Stimulating real life situations were created by making interview panels and swapping their roles as an interviewee and an interviewer. Learners had choices to pick their roles and were left free to experience the target language. The teacher used communicative language approach, pair-work and group work appropriately. Job interview role-play activity helped the less motivated learners to participate. I noticed that there were two students who were not very talkative, but they still participated and expressed themselves really well. All students in class were very motivated to learn English. The students very respectfully listened to the teacher and peers. All the students seemed to get along very well.
Seating arrangement was adjusted according to the activities and the flexibility of the room space and it was apparently very relaxing, pleasant and safe Tables were organized in U shape for students to see the video of the job interview and listen to the teacher's instructions. Tables were also moved and arranged for group work which encouraged students to participate in discussion.
I was impressed with the teacher's non-verbal communication techniques. He used gestures and facial expressions for his instructions and explanations. The teachers moved around the classroom to monitor and observe the groups during the activities. The teacher demonstrated interview skills rather than explaining and repeated if needed. His voice and tone was audible. He maintained eye contact while explaining and listening to students. He used gestures, eye contact and facial expressions such as smiling face to communicate with the learners and convey the messages. Different questioning techniques were used to check understanding and learning. Open-ended questions were used allowing students to discuss in groups, compare their answers and comment on the answers given by other learners or groups. The teacher aimed questions at each student. Some of the questions were "what do you tell about you in the interview?, What things should you do or avoid during the interview? What do they ask you in the interview? What are strengths? etc". It was clear that the students felt very comfortable with each other and the teacher.
The teacher used humorous strategies, a variety of visuals and activities to make the class lively and fun. All 4 skills were integrated i.e., reading, writing, speaking and listening. The teacher was very careful not to dominate the discussions or speaking, but rather gave the students opportunities to speak and practice their communication skills. Visual aids included question cards/answer cards, video, smart board, whiteboard. These visual aids were used effectively to present the topic and as part of language practice. Matching (Q/A) cards were used to reinforce learning and allow students to physically interact with each other. Video of job interview helped student to learn some important skills including body language and gestures. Listening to each other, to the teacher and watching the video improved their listening ability. Worksheets and the handouts were prepared taking into consideration the diverse range of learners, the individual needs of the learner (large print, colours, pictures and laminated).
The teacher was careful about grouping the students as he did not want to have students working with students who spoke the same language or at the same ability. He had to stop two of the Kurdish students interact with one another in their own language. It was very interesting to watch the students work together and help each other. It showed that the students were very respectful and supportive of each other. On the whole the content and the function of talk were benefitting them.
As a teacher, I ensure that my teaching methods and learning resources match students' preferred learning styles and intelligences. I strongly feel that choice and variety increases self esteem and motivation which has a very positive effect on learning. I believe that if learning is interesting, meaningful and successful, it establishes good relationship between the teacher and the student. From my experience and careful observation, I have identified many different types of intelligences and preferred learning styles of my students and in order to maintain students' motivation to learn and achieve, I implement different approaches to teaching and a variety of activities and resources in my planning. (Gökhan Bas, May 2008) As Gardner (1993) suggests, there are several kinds of intelligence in which people understand, learn and develop skills. The theory of Multiple Intelligences offers eight ways of teaching and learning styles. In this regard, teachers can ensure they provide enough variety in the activities they use so that as much of their pupils' learning potential can be tapped as possible (Berman, 1998).
Most of the students strive to improve their oral communication skills to enable them to improve their employment prospects and to cope with day to day life situations. One of the teaching methods, I use to provide students with the opportunities to improve their communication competence, is Communicative Language approach. As a teacher, I am very aware of my own body language as well as students and I often use eye contact, smile, move around to communicate and convey messages to students. Although I use a variety of questioning techniques and also let students to practice questioning skills, I feel that I need to explore more ways of assessing learning using levelled questions such as knowledge, comprehension and application questions as suggested by Reece and Walker (2003). I'd also like to develop and explore more ways of getting student feedback. In order to develop my own practice, I would like to do more reading and attend staff development sessions such as teaching and learning master class sessions. I intend to read a book by Susan Wallace, Teaching and Supporting Learning in Further Education 2001.