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Accommodating various types of intelligences can generate better learning outcomes. Understand the main intelligence types and how they lean.

Accommodating various types of intelligences can generate better learning outcomes. Understand the main intelligence types and how they learn.

Intelligence has been a hot topic for scientists for centuries, and in the last 30 years we have learned that there may just be more to being smart than merely testing well. Dr. Howard Gardner, a neuroscience professor at Harvard University, first coined the theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1983. His theory defies the wide-believed notion that intelligence can be measured with short-answer standardized tests. Instead, he believed that there could be multiple kinds of intelligence, and everyone had their own distinctive combination of these intelligences.

Many instructors are looking for ways to make their course content more engaging, and one unique way to do that is to think about these different learning styles. Some believe that this will generate better outcomes (like student engagement!).

Accommodating various types of intelligences could generate better learning outcomes. Today, we will discuss several types of intelligences and how you can adapt your teaching style to help your students succeed.

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8 different types of intelligence (+ examples of how to teach them)

Credit: Kumar Mehta, CNBC Make It

  1. Spatial

Spatial learners are adept at visualizing and perceiving the world in terms of space and dimension. They are aware of their environments and possess a keen understanding of how objects exist and interact in space. This category of learners is often proficient at thinking graphically and imaginatively, making them great problem solvers. They learn best by engaging with visual materials like models, charts, photographs, and videos.

For example, teaching spatially intelligent students about the different planets in the solar system can be made more effective by having them manipulate a scaled 3D model online. This method allows them to better conceptualize the planets’ relative sizes, distances from each other, and rotations around the sun.

  1. Bodily-kinesthetic

Bodily-kinesthetic learners have a heightened awareness of their bodies and their surroundings. They excel in activities that involve touch, movement, and physical interaction. This type of intelligence embodies the connection between the mind and body, where learners thrive in practical situations requiring hands-on involvement and role-playing.  Bodily-kinesthetic learners make up about 15% of the total population

To teach dance choreography to these learners, for example, encourage them to practice the steps at home. This physical repetition and interaction will enable them to understand the material more deeply and remember the choreography more effectively.

  1. Musical

Musical learners have a heightened sensitivity to various elements of sound. They are typically skilled at recognizing and understanding rhythms, pitches, and tones. These individuals have the ability to transform seemingly unrelated concepts into musical compositions or rhythmic patterns. They learn best by playing musical instruments, turning lessons into lyrics, or listening to music while studying.

For example, teaching these learners about the stages of cell division could involve them composing a song about the process. This creative and auditory engagement helps them better understand and recall complex concepts.

  1. Linguistic

Linguistic learners have a natural affinity for words and language. They are sensitive to the semantics, sound, and rhythm of words and possess an innate ability to express complex meanings through language. They learn best by reading, writing, storytelling, and engaging in abstract reasoning.

An effective teaching strategy for these learners could be to discuss what caused a specific brand to grow, having students debate on the topic within Thinkific communities. This would encourage them to articulate their viewpoints, refine their arguments, and learn from the perspectives of others.

  1. Logical-mathematical

Logical-mathematical learners are masters of logic and reasoning. They have a knack for recognizing patterns among actions or symbols and using these patterns to form abstract thoughts. They excel at thinking in terms of formulas, equations, operations, and thought maps.

For example, teaching these learners about international trade could involve having them create a Venn diagram comparing the imports and exports between the US and Canada. This task allows them to visualize the data and recognize patterns and relationships.

  1. Interpersonal

Interpersonal learners are highly skilled at understanding and interacting with other people. They are sensitive to changes in mood, temperaments, and feelings, and they excel at collaborating in groups and communicating ideas effectively. They learn best through social interaction and group projects.

For example, teaching these learners about creativity could involve organizing a Google Hangout where they peer review each other’s personal work. This method encourages collaboration, feedback sharing, and mutual learning.

  1. Intrapersonal

Intrapersonal learners possess a deep and accurate perception of their own emotions, motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. They are self-aware and are often able to regulate their emotions effectively. This type of intelligence is characterized by a strong sense of self, enabling individuals to understand their own thoughts, feelings, and desires.

These learners excel in introspection and self-reflection, and they learn best when they are allowed to reflect on and process information independently. They prefer working alone and typically enjoy tasks that require self-examination or personal goal setting. Journaling, meditation, independent study, and self-paced learning are all strategies that engage intrapersonal learners.

For example, teaching self-development to intrapersonally intelligent students could involve setting personal goals and reflecting on them in a journal. This task allows them to delve deep into their personal aspirations, understand their motivations, and track their progress over time. They could also explore different strategies to overcome personal challenges, thereby enhancing their self-understanding and self-regulation skills.

  1. Naturalistic

Naturalistic learners have a profound appreciation for the natural world and a sense of wonder towards all forms of life. They have an ability to identify and classify species, plants, and other elements of the natural world. They learn best by experiencing things firsthand, making observations, and exposing their senses to nature.

To teach these learners about math tessellations, for example, showing them patterns in nature such as the spirals in sunflowers or the honeycomb structure of beehives can be highly effective. These real-world examples will help them understand complex mathematical concepts in a more tangible and engaging way.

Catering to multiple intelligences in your course

When designing your course, it’s crucial to consider the diversity of your learners. Each student is unique, possessing different strengths and learning styles that fall into the various categories of intelligence. To ensure the best learning outcomes, your course should be flexible enough to cater to all types of intelligences. 

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Here are a few strategies to make your course more inclusive and effective:

  1. Incorporate different learning materials

Integrating a variety of learning materials can help engage different types of learners. Almost 65% of the general population are visual learners, while 30% are auditory learners — highlighting the importance of having a variety of learning materials. 

For example, consider using videos, infographics, and animations for spatial learners, while including interactive quizzes or problem-solving tasks for logical-mathematical learners. For linguistic learners, provide written materials and engage in discussions or debates.

  1. Practical activities

Encourage bodily-kinesthetic learners by incorporating practical activities and hands-on tasks. This could be as simple as having students physically write out notes or work on a craft or as complex as creating a physical model or conducting a science experiment.

  1. Interactive group projects

Interpersonal learners thrive in social learning environments. Incorporate group projects or discussions in your course to provide opportunities for these students to engage and learn from others. Using platforms such as Google Hangouts or Zoom for group collaboration can be highly effective.

  1. Utilize music and sound

Make use of music or sound clips for your musical learners. Transform lessons into catchy songs or rhymes, or suggest background music that might enhance concentration while studying.

  1. Connect with nature

To engage naturalistic learners, try to incorporate examples from nature into your course content. Use real-world examples that involve the natural environment, or even consider hosting classes outside if possible.

  1. Create challenges

Logical-mathematical learners appreciate a good challenge. Try incorporating puzzles, logic problems, or brain teasers into your course. This can stimulate their problem-solving skills and make learning more enjoyable.

  1. Reflect and refine

Finally, always be open to feedback and ready to refine your course. Encourage students to communicate what’s working for them and what’s not. This feedback can provide valuable insights to improve and adapt your course to better cater to all types of intelligences.

Remember, the aim is not to create separate learning pathways for each type of intelligence, but rather to weave elements that cater to all these different learning styles into a cohesive, engaging, and effective course. This ensures that every learner can engage with the material in a way that best suits their individual intelligence type, leading to a more inclusive and successful learning environment.

Frequently asked questions

  1. What are the different types of intelligences?

There are seven main types of intelligences identified by Howard Gardner in his Theory of Multiple Intelligences: spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, linguistic, logical-mathematical, interpersonal, and naturalistic.

  1. How can I determine my type of intelligence?

There are several online tests and quizzes that can help you determine your dominant types of intelligence. However, it’s important to remember that most people have a mix of different intelligences, and these tests should not be taken as absolute truth.

  1. Can a person possess more than one type of intelligence?

Absolutely! Most people possess a mix of different intelligences, with some being more dominant than others. It’s also possible to develop and strengthen different types of intelligence with practice and exposure.

  1. How can I adapt my teaching style to cater to different types of intelligences?

By incorporating a variety of teaching materials and methods, you can engage learners of all types. This includes using visual aids, practical activities, group discussions, musical elements, real-world examples, and challenges that cater to the different types of intelligences.

  1. How can I ensure that my online course caters to all types of intelligences?

To make your online course inclusive, consider using diverse learning materials and methodologies. Encourage group collaborations, provide interactive quizzes and tasks, and engage learners with real-world examples. Always seek feedback from your students to refine your course and cater to their needs better.

  1. Can the type of intelligence change over time?

While people may have dominant types of intelligence, it’s possible to develop and strengthen different types of intelligence over time. Exposure to various learning styles and environments can enhance other types of intelligence.

  1. Are certain types of intelligence more valuable than others?

No type of intelligence is inherently more valuable than another. Each type of intelligence has its own strengths and can be beneficial in different contexts. The key is to recognize and value the diversity of intelligences and to encourage individuals to utilize their strengths.

How many different types of intelligences does your course currently support?

Thinking about the information you are trying to teach in a different way can lead to a more diverse and engaging learning experience? Join the discussion or start creating a course for free today!

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This post was originally published in June 2022. It has since been updated in July 2023 to include the latest information.