Theoretical Concepts Of Intelligence Education Essay

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In the early 1980s, Howard Gardner, Ph.D., published his theory of human multiple intelligences. This innovative theory disputed that individuals possess a single numerical intelligence and that other gifts, labeled as talents, and were indeed the true multiple intelligences of an individual. Gardner (1983) stated, "I believe that human cognitive competence is better described in terms of a set of abilities, talents, or mental skills, which I call intelligences" (p. 6). The theory is based on a "pluralistic view of the mind" (Gardner, 2006, p. 5), and details the idea that the mind is made up of several intelligences. This "pluralistic view of the mind" accounts for the different ways people think and act. It also acknowledges that everyone has various levels of strengths and weaknesses in each area of intelligence. Gardner envisioned that everyone possessed different intelligences at various levels which impact how people learn (Gardner, 1983; Griggs, Barney, Brown-Sederberg, Collins, Keith, & Iannacci, 2009).

Theoretical Concepts of Intelligence

The definition of intelligence has wielded a remarkable influence on society since the turn of the 20th century. The dominant perspective of intelligence has influenced all policies concerning education, industry, immigration, and military service. The psychometric approach is the oldest and most criticized definition of the construct of intelligence. This approach uses psychological tests to quantify intelligence.

Alfred Binet viewed intelligence as judgment, otherwise called good sense, practical sense, initiative, the faculty of adapting one's self to circumstances (Binet & Simon, 1973). Later, Binet and Theodore Simon declined to give a formal definition to the word intelligence but in their research they sought to find the natural intelligence of the child. In order to do that, an instrument was developed that measured the intellectual development of young children. The purpose of the intelligence test, later named the Benet-Simon intelligence scale, was to identify children who required special education and provide them with services they needed. Binet believed that the Binet-Simon scale was simply a measure of a child's ability to perform specific tasks at a particular moment in the student's life. He felt that intelligence was too complex to be defined by a single number, and he warned against efforts to attach greater meaning to the results (Binet & Simon, 1973).

Despite the warnings issued by Binet, Henry Herbert Goddard used an English translation of the Binet-Simon scale to identify and separate individuals who were mentally retarded from those who were feebleminded, and was convinced that their scores were reliable indicators of individual intelligence. Goddard, concerned with raising the intelligence of Americans, distributed 22,000 copies of the intelligence test throughout the United States, advocated for its use in the public schools, established an intelligence testing program on Ellis Island, and assisted with the testing of members of the U.S. Army World War I (Plucker, 2012; Zenderland, 2001). As a eugenicist, Goddard , maintained controversial views on population growth and control which focused on preventing the breeding of feebleminded people (Fancher, 1985).

Unaware of the work of Binet and Simon, Lewis Madison Terman wanted to explore what mental tests could do in distinguishing unusually backward students from very bright ones. His study titled, "Genius and Stupidity: A Study of the Intellectual Processes of Seven "Bright" and Seven "Stupid" Boys," tested "higher" and complex cognitive functioning based on eight categories that included invention and creative imagination, logical processes, mathematical ability, language mastery, the interpretation of fables, the game of chess, memory, and motor skill (Fancher, 1985). Later, Terman was impressed with Binet's test as it was able to address issues his test was not. As a result of concerns with inflated and deflated test scores on the Binet test, Terman and his graduate student, H.G. Childs, deleted existing items from the Benit-Simons scale and added new items until a standardized score was achieved by children completing the test. This test later became what we know as the Stanford-Binet (Hergenhahn, 2009).

Perhaps the key person who agreed with Goddard's viewpoint was Charles Spearman, the formulator of Spearman's g for general intelligence. Spearman proposed the idea that intelligent behavior is generated by a single, unitary quality within the human mind or brain (Hergenhahn, 2009). Spearman derived this theoretical entity through a new statistical technique that analyzed the correlations among a set of variables. This technique, called factor analysis, demonstrated that scores on all mental tests are positively correlated; this offered compelling evidence that all intelligent behavior is derived from one metaphorical pool of mental energy (Hergenhahn, 2009, p. 314).

Contrary to the unitary view of intelligence, there are theorists that fail to support factor analytic research and favor a perspective that supports a multi-dimensional view of intelligence. L.L. Thurstone (1938) found that intelligent behavior does not arise from a general factor, but rather emerges from seven independent factors that he called primary abilities: word fluency, verbal comprehension, spatial visualization, number facility, associative memory, reasoning, and perceptual speed. Gardner (1983) based his MI theory on the work of Thurstone.

Defining and Educational Implications of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Multiple intelligences theory is a cognitive model, which describes how people use their many different intelligences to solve problems. This approach demonstrates how the human mind correlates to the contents of the world (Armstrong, 2009).

Gardner took the traditional view of society's emphasis on linguistic and mathematical intelligences and added five more intelligences (Guild & Garger, 1998). He further challenged the idea that intelligence could be objectively measured and limited to a single number or "IQ" score. Gardner (1996) stated:

I have read and heard individuals talk about "multiple intelligence" as if there were a single intelligence, composed of many parts-in direct contradictions to my claim that there exist a number of relatively autonomous human intellectual capacities…though I never asserted that there were fewer than seven intelligences. (p. 202)

Gardner (1983) established his criteria as a means of mapping the broad range of abilities that humans possess by grouping their capabilities into comprehensive categories or intelligences. Armstrong (2009) described Gardner's seven multiple intelligences as the following:

Linguistic Intelligence: The capacity to use words effectively, whether orally or in writing

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence: The capacity to use numbers effectively and to reason well

Spatial Intelligence: The ability to perceive the visual-spatial world accurately and to perform transformations upon those perceptions

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence: Expertise in using one's whole body to express ideas and feelings and facility in using one's hands to produce or transform things

Musical Intelligence: The capacity to perceive, discriminate, transform, and express musical forms

Interpersonal Intelligence: The ability to perceive and make distinctions in the moods, intentions, motivations, and feeling of other people.

Intrapersonal Intelligence: Self-knowledge and the ability to act adaptively on the basis of that knowledge.

An eighth intelligence was added by Howard Gardner in the 1990s:

Naturalist Intelligence: The ability to sense patterns in and making connections to elements in nature (Gardner, 2000; Gardner, 2006).

Gardner's model is backed by a foundation that combines physiology, anthropology, and personal and cultural history (Multiple Intelligences Institute, 2008). He based these distinctions on studies that were supported by studies in child development, cognitive skills under conditions of brain damage, psychometrics, changes in cognition across history and within cultures, and psychological transfer and generalization (Multiple Intelligences Institute, 2008; Schmidt, 2008).

Gardner's multiple intelligence theory changed its focus slightly when he revised his theory and introduced the possibilities of three new intelligences (Gardner, 1999). Some claim that Gardner has changed his original theory while others claim he has not (White, 2004). What has occurred is that Gardener has been open to the possibility that other kinds of intelligences exist thus allowing for his theory to evolve (Brandt, 1993; Gardner, 2006).

According to the theory of multiple intelligences, although the intelligences are structurally separated from each other, they rarely operate independently. In the individual, multiple intelligences are used congruently and balance each other as the person develops skills or solves problems (Multiple Intelligences Institute, 2008; Shearer, 2007).

Application of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences in Higher Education

"Most scholars within psychology, and nearly ball scholars outside of the field are now convinced that there are numerous limitations in the instruments themselves and in that uses to which they can (and should) be put" (Gardner, 1993, p. 16). Gardner (1991) believes that despite the exposure to theoretical knowledge, college students often revert to the uninformed opinion of the unschooled mind of a five-year old. He further believes that in order to educate so one has a genuine understanding, it is necessary to identify early representations and to confront these assumptions repeatedly (Gardner, 1991).

Gardner's (1991) confidence in his MI theory derives from cognitive research evidence where many of the early cognitive representation theories are powerful, and difficult to change. Consequently, once a student learns a new concept for the very first time, it is difficult to change the perception or knowledge if the information learned was incorrect (Gardner, 1991).

The MI approach offers insights into the design of curriculum and instruction around the students' needs while offering a variety of methods of "learning and understanding" (Hoerr, 2000). Kezar (2001) reports that the application of MI Theory to the college environment has been limited but what research exists suggests that MI Theory is well received by students and faculty. Hunts (n.d.) reports that through the use of MI on the college classroom allows for the instructor to be more respectful of the skills and strengths of students while focusing on the preferred teaching style to meet the needs of the students. Tsou (2007) reported that through the use of MI in the college classroom it is possible to see the true academic potential of students. Dillion (2006) supports the use of MI in college instruction and indicated that students reported high levels of engagement, participation, and retention of course material when MI theory was applied to their English composition course.

Gardner's theory provides a theoretical foundation for recognizing that students possess different abilities and talents (Delaney & Shafer, 2007; Griggs et al., 2009; Hoerr, 2000). Multiple intelligences do not require a renovation of curriculum. It purely provides a framework for augmenting instruction and a language to describe one's endeavors. Unlike much of educational reform, it is not narrow in nature. Its broad insight into human strengths does not determine what and how to teach. It gives educators a complex mental model from which to build curriculum and improve as instructors (Hoerr, 2000).

Students possess multiple intelligences. Therefore, it is not possible for a teacher to accommodate every lesson to all the intelligences and learning styles of the students (Armstrong, 2009; Delaney & Shafer, 2007; Schmidt, 2008). The teacher can show students how to use their more predominant intelligences to aid them in understanding. The literature is replete with methods in setting up an MI classroom, activities for teaching to multiple intelligences in a classroom, and designing alternative assessment processes that reflect students' work (Armstrong, 2009; Gardner, 2006).

The application of career and technology education to Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences can be seen in the different classrooms. For instance, agriculture may require naturalistic and kinesthetic intelligence; family and consumer sciences may require artistic and interpersonal intelligence. Instructors of career and technology education have seen these intelligences in students and need to help them find ways to best use these intelligences in school and ultimately in a career (Closs, 2010; Johnson & White, 2006).

Kezar (2001) warns that concerns may exist when MI is applied within the higher education context. With so few studies of the application of MI in the postsecondary environment there may be questions related to the way that MI theory can be practiced. Are there specific intelligences that need development in college? Are certain entries into intelligences better for college age students? Does the development of multiple intelligences change the opportunities for college graduates? (Kezar, 2001). Perhaps a significant danger of MI is that certain racial, ethnic, or cultural groups will become associated with one or a few intelligences, rather than a range of intelligences (Gardner, 1993). Armstrong (2009) reports that intelligence testing has been accused of bigotry and narrow-mindedness and some fear the same will occur with MI.

The few studies that have examined whether college students exhibit the multiple intelligences have shown that they tend to have a range of intelligences (Gardner, 1993). Further, Kezar (2001) argues that MI theory makes a distinctive contribution to the understanding of teaching and learning and that it should become a theory that is more commonly applied within higher education.

Criminal Justice Education

The concept of police officers obtaining a college degree can be traced to the early 1900s when August Vollmer, then chief of the Berkley, California police department, supported an increase in educational requirements for police officers while encouraging the hiring of degreed applicants. Vollmer required his officers to attend classes at the University of California, Berkley, and designed a sequence of courses he believed were important for his officer's education and professionalism (Brandstatter & Hoover, 1976; Bruns, 2010; Carter & Sapp, 1990; Hess & Orthmann, 2012).

Criminal justice, as a college or university degree-granting program, is relatively adolescent when compared to more traditional disciplines such as science, mathematics, and the humanities (Brandstatter & Hoover, 1976; Vollmer, 1936). Criminal justice education emerged as a recognized field of study in the 1960's and has proliferated and gained academic acceptance (Brandstatter & Hoover, 1976; Bruns, 2010). The rapid growth of criminal justice as an academic discipline has left little time for the traditional academic process involving program development or evaluation. This was due to a generous supply of federal funds made available through the United States Department of Justice Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) (Carter & Sapp, 1990; Dempsey & Forst, 2012; Hess & Orthmann, 2012; National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, 1973; Swanson, Territo, & Taylor, 2012).

The federal government offered generous financial assistance to colleges and universities wishing to develop crime related programs and to in-service personnel who would, in short time, become agents of change. So strong was the feeling in support of education in 1973 the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals proposed: 1) that every police agency require as a condition of employment a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university and (2) that criminal justice system curricula and programs be established by agencies of higher education to unify the body of knowledge in criminology, social science, law, public administration, and corrections, and to serve as a basis for preparing persons to work in the criminal justice system (Carter & Sapp, 1990; Hess & Orthmann, 2012; United States National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice, Standards, and Goals, 1973).

College education in general and criminal justice education in particular has been criticized for not adequately preparing students for their new roles in the largest social arena (Bruns, 2010; Sherman, 1978; Williams, 2012). Despite such criticisms, and underpinning value of higher education institutions is that they are dynamic, continually in the process of improving their course offerings, research, and curriculum. This dynamic process suggests that Vollmer's "best and brightest" ideal criminal justice professional are positively influenced by a college experience and that college-educated individuals are generally different from, and academically superior to, their high school educated counterparts (Carter & Sapp, 1990; Dempsey & Forst, 2012; Palombo, 1995; Swanson et al., 2012).

MI theory applied to higher education instruction could provide a variety of opportunities to promote active, student centered learning (Owens & Key, 2012). Allowing students to have options in their learning furthers their desire to want to learn more. An instructor can create activities and assignment to deepen a student's understanding of a skill, and at the same time have them evaluate and synthesize that information at a higher level. Many times if students are struggling, presenting the material using various teaching and learning theories will enable them to grasp the material with greater ease. The application of MI may offer opportunities to the instructor resulting in diverse, perhaps, even entertaining learning experiences for students. Creating such a learning environment prepares students for success in both life and future education endeavors, and this should be the goal of all teaching efforts (Owens & Key, 2012, p. 152).

Multiple Intelligence Assessment Instruments

Research on MI and instruments used to assess MI resulted in various types of instrumentation which have been primarily developed for primary and middle school students. Additionally, several studies acknowledged combining material used in multiple instruments to create a new instrument or altering the original instrument so that it would meet the needs of the particular study (Baragona, 2009; Berkermeier, 2002; McClellan, 2006). The following are MI instruments that have been used in some manner to assess postsecondary students and adults, which have been considered as the assessment instrument for this research study:

MI Inventory for Adults by Thomas Armstrong (2009; n.d.)

Multiple Intelligence Teaching Approach (MITA) for Adults by Ellen Weber (Weber, n.d.)

Multiple Intelligences Inventory (MII) by Walter McKenzie (McKenzie, 1999, 2005)

Multiple Intelligence Development Assessment Scales (MIDAS) by Branton Shearer (Shearer, 2005)

The MI Inventory for Adults was developed by Thomas Armstrong as a realistic appraisal of one's performance in the many kinds of tasks, activities, and experiences that are associated with each intelligence one may possess (Armstrong, 2009, p. 21). The inventory consists of a series of ten statements for each of the eight intelligences identified by Gardner (1993). Each statement is intended to represent real-life experiences one may have already had involving the eight intelligences. Armstrong (2009) asserts that the inventory is not designed as a test and that the quantitative information provided by the inventory (the number of checks for each experience associated with an identified intelligence) has no bearing on determining one's intelligence or lack of intelligence (p. 21). There is a lack of evidence that any research has been conducted on the content validity and reliability of the instrument.

The Multiple Intelligence Teaching Approach (MITA) was created in 1996 by Ellen Weber so that students can validate past knowledge, engage their present talents and encourage future dreams with each learning experience (Weber, 2000). MITA relies on students' interests, abilities and past experiences to give ownership to dealing with and solving learning opportunities expressed in terms of a problem. Additionally, with MITA students bring more of their gifts and abilities to achieve deeper understanding of any topic (Weber, n.d., para. 2). Weber (2000) believes that MITA can serve as a response to enhance vibrant learning opportunities for more university students (Weber, 2000). The Intelligence Survey developed by Weber in association with MITA consists of 40 statements based on activities or experiences one may have had or wishes to have. It is believed that an adult who selects 15 of the 40 activity or experience statements can identify their MI "gift" (Weber, n.d.). There is no evidence that Weber or other researchers have evaluated the reliability of the survey.

The Multiple Intelligence Inventory (MII), also known as the Multiple Intelligence Survey (MIS) for Older Students was developed by Walter McKenzie (1999, 2005). The survey is not a test but an inventory of learner preferences and is not offered as a definitive measurement of a static intelligence, but as a snapshot of how students perceive their strengths in nine different intelligences (McKenzie, 2005, p. 16). The MII presents an opportunity for teachers to appreciate and understand the unique distribution of intelligences within each student. The MII is available as a paper and pencil survey or a copy of the survey can be completed as an Excel spreadsheet that automatically scores the survey and identifies the multiple intelligences of the student. The survey is separated into nine sections each representing a form of intelligence and ten statements related to activities the student may have experienced. The student selects those activities they participate in or agree with. Once completed, the survey depicts the student's intelligences on a bar graph. McKenzie fails to provide data to show the reliability of the MIS which raises questions on the value of the survey for this research study.

The Multiple Intelligence Developmental Assessment Scales (MIDAS) was developed by C. Branton Shearer (2005) in response to the need by educators and psychologists for a practical, reliable and valid assessment that can assist with instruction, counseling and research (Shearer, 2005, 2007). The MIDAS questionnaire, a 119-item self-report, is designed to be a "thoughtful and systematic" survey of the person's skills and activities. It was developed as an interview or dialogue rather than as an impersonal set of general statements. When answering the 119 questions the respondent selects from six descriptive statements rather than merely selecting a yes/no or an ill-defined number response as is common with most MI checklists. Response choices are identified by a letter rather than by a number. Each set of responses are uniquely written to match the content of the question. This design encourages the respondent to think carefully about responding to the content of the question rather than thoughtlessly responding yes or no or haphazardly selecting a number. There is also an "I don't know or Does not apply" choice for every question so the respondent is not forced to answer inappropriately beyond his/her level of knowledge (Shearer, 2005, p. 2). Unique among the MI instruments, the MIDAS serves to describe the course of intellectual growth and achievement potential in specific areas of skills for the eight intelligences (Shearer, 2007).The MIDAS also describes a student's intellectual disposition so that questions such as: In what activities and by what means will this person be able to maximize success? In the end, the MIDAS can offer student's information that can assist them in making educational plans and career decisions that maximize their strengths to achieve success (Shearer, 2007, p. 4). Numerous studies have examined the reliability and validity of the MIDAS which are summarized in The MIDAS: A Professional Manual (Shearer, 2007).