Study It – A Series on How We Learn. PART II – Multiple Intelligences

Part II: Multiple Intelligences

Humans are thought to have one type of intelligence – one which encompasses linguistic, logical-mathematical, and sometimes spatial abilities. In 1983, psychologist and professor Howard Gardner, introduced in his book “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences”, the theory that there can be more than just one intelligence. His book explores the idea that there are in fact, numerous intellectual capacities.1

What impact do alternative intelligences have on learning? Acknowledging that individuals have different types of intelligences, and as a result may learn differently, can determine how best to deliver information and assess knowledge. Gardner then suggested two approaches2 to teaching.

The first, individuation (also termed personalization), suggests that since human beings have their own unique configuration of intelligences and learning styles, we should teach and assess individuals in ways best suited to their intelligences.

Pluralization, suggests that consequential materials should be taught in several ways. No matter the subject, if you can present ideas and information in several ways, you achieve two important goals. First, more methods reach more students, Second, multiple methods also provide teachers with the opportunity to expand their own understanding and demonstration of ideas.

At schools in the United States which base their teaching methods and curriculum on the theory of multiple intelligences, studies conducted have shown that students demonstrated better performance than peers at traditional schools. Results included higher scores on standardised assessments and performances above the students’ current grade level.3

Types of Intelligences & Learning Styles 4

Visual-Spatial – think in terms of physical space, e.g. architects and sailors. They like to draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, daydream. They can be taught through drawings, verbal and physical imagery.

Bodily-kinesthetic – use the body effectively, like a dancer or a surgeon. Keen sense of body awareness. They like movement, making things, touching. They communicate well through body language and can be taught through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out and role playing.

Musical – show sensitivity to rhythm and sound. They love music, but they are also sensitive to sounds in their environments. They may study better with music in the background. They can be taught by turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time.

Interpersonal – understand and interact with others well. These students learn through interaction. They have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts. They can be taught through group activities, seminars, dialogues.

Intrapersonal – understanding one’s own interests and goals. These learners tend to shy away from others. They’re in tune with their inner feelings; they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions. They can be taught through independent study and introspection.

Linguistic – using words effectively. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words. They like reading, playing word games, making up poetry or stories. They can be taught by encouraging them to say and see words and reading books together.

Logical -Mathematical – reasoning, calculating. These learners think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships. They like to experiment, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions. They can be taught through logic games, investigations, mysteries. They need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with details.

Naturalist – ability to identify and distinguish among different types of plants, animals, and weather formations that are found in the natural world.5 A naturalist learner requires access to outdoor areas, experiences in natural surroundings and tools that can help them explore the environment.6

Existential – sensitivity and the capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why do we die, and how did we get here.7 They can be taught through independent study and by incorporating elements of history, humanity, the environment and global issues,8 to examine the big picture.

BONUS: Now that you know the multiple intelligences, take a test to determine your predominant intelligence. Click here. While Gardner himself does not endorse testing for multiple intelligences, the result may give some insight in to the learning style suggested for you.

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Study It – A Series on How We Learn. Part I: Emotional intelligence


  1. Gardner, H. Retrieved from
  2. Gardner, H. Retrieved from
  3. Campbell, L. & Campbell, B. (1999). Multiple Intelligences and Student Achievement: Success Stories from Six Schools. Retrieved from
  4. Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences n.d. Retrieved from
  5. Cherry, K. (2019, July 07) Retrieved
  6. Makofsky, N. (2019, May 10) Retrieved from
  7. Anderson, M. (2004, February 03) Retrieved from
  8. Das, Rajib. (2009). Presence and Impacts of Multiple Intelligences in Collaborative Projects: A Study on MI Theory. Retrieved from