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 then 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, eight kinds in fact, 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 accommodating various learning styles will generate better outcomes (like student engagement!).

Today, we will discuss the eight types of intelligences and how you can design a course best suited to help your students succeed.

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  1. Spatial
    These learners like to conceptualize. They are aware of their environments and think in terms of space. They learn best using models, charts, photographs, and videos. Example: Teach the different planets in the solar system by having students manipulate a scaled 3D model online.
  2. Bodily-kinesthetic
    These learners are aware of their body. They are keen on touch, movement, and sensory awareness. They learn best by physically doing, learning hands-on, and role-playing. Example: Teach choreography by having the students practice the steps at home.
  3. Musical
    These learners are sensitive to sounds in their environment, such as rhythm, pitch, or tone. They learn best by using musical instruments, transforming lessons into lyrics, or listening to music while studying. Example: Teach the stages of cell division by asking the student to compose a song about it.
  4. Linguistic
    These learners are sensitive to the semantics, sound, and metre of words. They like to use language to explain complicated meanings. They learn best by reading, writing, storytelling, and abstract reasoning. Example: Teach what caused a specific brand to grow by having students debate on the topic using Thinkific’s integrated Disqus forum.
  5. Logical-mathematical
    These learners have the capacity to recognize patterns among actions or symbols and use inductive reasoning to conceptualize thought processes. They learn best by formulas, equations, operations, and thought maps. Example: Teach students aspects of international trade by having them create a Venn diagram comparing the imports and exports between the US and Canada.
  6. Interpersonal
    These learners are able to collaborate in a group and communicate ideas with other people. They are often sensitive to the changes in mood, temperaments, and the feelings of other people. They learn best by doing group projects. Example: Teach creativity by inviting students to a Google Hangout and having them peer review each other’s personal work.
  7. Intrapersonal
    These learners are able to work individually and are sensitive to their own feelings, emotions, and consciousness. They learn best by doing independent study projects. Example: Teach photography by having students keep a journal and reflect on a photo they take every day.
  8. Naturalistic
    These learners appreciate the natural world and view various phenomena with a sense of wonder. They are able to identify and classify species, plants, flora, fauna, and physical history. They learn best by experiencing things firsthand, making observations, and exposing the senses to nature. Example: Teach math tessellations by showing students natural plant patterning.
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How many different learning styles 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?

We’d love to hear if you’re doing anything unique with course delivery – leave a comment below!

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Steve
Steve

You really need to dig into the research on Learning Styles. It’s pretty well known that there is no research that proves this.

Si Jia
Si Jia

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your comment! We agree, as Dr. Gardner himself has stated there is not enough empirical evidence to PROVE the theory of Multiple Intelligences. However, we thought that the discussion about multiple intelligences was still valuable as a way to make learning more engaging and dynamic!

Gita
Gita

You really make it appear really easy along with your presentation but I to find this matter to be really one thing that I feel I might never understand. It sort of feels too complex and extremely extensive for me. I am having a look forward in your subsequent post,… Read more »