Multiple intelligence theory, the brainchild of Harvard hailing Howard Gardner, is coming into focus like never before. As we gain knowledge about learners, their differences, and common skill gaps, we are starting to see how unique learners can approach new information and what works to help them lay hold of new content.
The idea of a one-size-fits-all learner and the supposition that all students must be disciplined to fall in line with one teaching style has long been dismissed. But how differently a group of students receives new information can befuddle and frustrate even the most seasoned of teachers as they struggle to make adjustments for different learners and be able to keep on schedule with content delivery.
Multiple Intelligence Theory Is Not A Learning Style
What is multiple intelligence theory if it isn’t a learning style? We’ve heard of terms such as Visual Learner or Left-Brained Learner, but that is not what this is about. While paying attention to learning styles is not wrong, it works better in understanding the learner if multiple intelligence theory is applied along with it.
Multiple intelligence theory dismisses the notion that because a student may not be gifted in an area such as math, the particular student is of a lower IQ in general. To the contrary, a student with an average to low aptitude in math may demonstrate exceptional intelligence in another area such as art or languages.
Multiple intelligence theory helps us to see the student as a whole, instead of pieces that are less than. It is important not to pigeon hole a student into one category or label. With multiple intelligence theory, the term alone suggests that a student would not have one area of intelligence by which to center learning around. This does not also suppose that proficiency in one area of intelligence guarantees a lack of proficiency in another.
Students will have multiple areas of intelligence to draw from as they gain understanding about a new area of content. All students with high intelligence in math will not automatically demonstrate a lower intelligence in visual/spatial intelligence and so on.
If we can learn and appreciate what areas of exceptional intelligence a student has, we can gain much more insight into how we can help them comprehend and gain proficiency with new information.
What Do We Do With All This New Information?
Since each student will have multiple areas of intelligence, as a teacher applies all this knowledge about an individual student, what happens to all this great information about how to best support the student’s learning experience?
"When one has a thorough understanding of a topic, one can typically think of it in several ways." - Howard Gardner
The data is lost, year after year, teacher after teacher if it is not actively reflected on, measured for effectiveness and passed on to the next teacher.
Multiple intelligence theory supports the argument that the standard way we measure a student’s proficiency in a topic, standard quizzes and tests, may not accurately measure every student’s grasp of a topic. Using the idea that multiple intelligence theory allows for a student to take in information using a variety of approaches, wouldn’t the same be true for demonstrating proficiency?
If a student is not able to write down their responses to questions, it has now been loudly argued in education circles that it does not mean the student doesn’t have a handle on the information being tested on. For many students today, verbal testing is a better way to test knowledge on a given subject. What about drawing a picture of the subject matter or creating a story about it? These are all demonstrations of information proficiency that support multiple intelligence theory.
Managing MI in the classroom can be tricky. The idea of the co-teaching model and the MI philosophy makes a beautiful combination. This also supports the ability for both teachers to observe the classroom; what works for a particular student or group of students, adjust as needed and be able to collect and record information on the students being observed.
Passing On Success To The Next Teacher Is Critical
All this good information has to be stored somewhere. How is it of any use if it can’t be built on over time? Imagine being able to keep track of what works and what doesn’t?
eCare Vault is the solution for just that. Students require more and more specialized instruction, unique approaches, and tailored content delivery. But what good is taking a whole school year to learn how a student approaches learning and what works successfully toward improving skill gaps if it can’t be passed on the next teacher for continued success?
With eCare Vault, document storage, education collaboration, and information sharing follow the student throughout their entire educational journey, making the transfer of knowledge about a student really happen; in real time.
Multiple intelligence theory and application only improves learner performance if it is built upon. Do more for your students by putting great teaching theories to better use with data collection and sharing.