Editor's Note (2015): Additional research is needed to understand the applications of Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences in educational settings. Furthermore, a clear distinction should be made between multiple intelligences (how people process information) and learning styles (how people approach tasks differently). Research, however, does suggest that providing students with multiple ways to learn content improves learning (Hattie, 2011). Read more about the research on multiple intelligences and learning styles.
Explore more MI resources at the bottom of this page.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is about thinking in movements and includes the ability to use movements for either self-expression or precision to achieve a goal. It is crucial for surgeons, athletes, mimes, choreographers, and directors.
This type of intelligence helps you retain information when it is associated with an activity, such as dance, acting, and sports. Relating what you are trying to learn to one of these activities will help you retain information and gain understanding.
- Perform a skit to show the action of the idea you are trying to learn.
- Make a game out of the materials.
- Apply what you are learning to hands-on models or in-practice examples.
- Stay active when you are in a situation in which you need to concentrate. You can squeeze a stress ball when talking with someone or walk around while reading a book.
Interpersonal intelligence is about social interaction and understanding the people around you and their motives, emotions, perspectives, and moods.
This type of intelligence is important in managing relationships, understanding situations, and negotiating conflict. It is especially applicable in careers that require insight and a sensitivity to what someone else is thinking or feeling, such as teaching, psychology, or sales.
- Give and receive feedback.
- Talk out problems.
- Work on large-group projects so you can use your social abilities to divide up tasks and understand all aspects of the project.
- Be a part of active learning through mentoring, tutoring, or an apprenticeship. This activity will reinforce your own knowledge or abilities.
Intrapersonal intelligence has been said to be the road to achievement, learning, and personal satisfaction. It is about being connected to who you are and how you feel, and knowing your own limits and abilities.
Intrapersonal intelligence is involved in making decisions and setting goals for yourself, self-management, and self-reflection.
- Study alone in a comfortable yet quiet environment.
- Set goals for yourself, and monitor your progress regularly.
- Reflect on what you have learned, and think through new material.
- Create a connection between new material and subjects you already know, and gain understanding by finding their similarities.
Logical-mathematical intelligence is about understanding complex problems and conceptualizing relationships between symbols, processes, and actions.
This type of intelligence asks questions, finds solutions, and reflects on the problem-solving process.
- Think about what you are trying to learn as a puzzle or a formula.
- Ask questions, and allow yourself to experiment with your own hypotheses to find solutions or new answers.
- Concentrate on symbols, designs, and words to bridge mathematical and verbal logic.
- Create an outline to understand your subject step by step. Doing so will allow you to stay organized and track what you're learning in a logical sequence.
Musical intelligence is associated with enjoying music, singing, making music, and playing an instrument. It involves a sensitivity to sounds as well as the emotions music conveys.
- Listen to music while you study to connect its patterns and sounds with the subject you are studying. Replay the same song just before a test.
- Create a rhyme, song, or chant for material you would like to memorize.
- Associate what you're learning with a song you like.
- Use your ability to distinguish sounds -- like hearing the beat, tone, or chord in a song -- by learning an instrument or mixing sound.
Naturalistic learning is about understanding the patterns of living things and applying scientific reasoning to the world. Nature intelligence is particularly applicable in careers such as that of a farmer, naturalist, animal behaviorist, and scientist.
- Recognize and classify different types of plants or animals.
- Observe and record data.
- Create a living system for the material you are trying to learn. Imagine the new material as an ecosystem or a pattern for you to figure out.
- Write about nature, daily life, or people as a topic so you become engaged in your assignment.
Verbal-linguistic intelligence -- along with logical-mathematical intelligence -- is often associated with doing well in school. It involves the ability to use words effectively for reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The poet has been described as the epitome of verbal-linguistic intelligence.
- Use words to explain complicated subjects.
- Ask questions.
- Engage in the Socratic method, digesting information through a question-and-answer exchange.
- Hone your native ability to tell a story.
Visual-spatial intelligence allows you to see and modify things in your mind. This kind of understanding of the visual world -- and its relation to physical items -- is valuable in solving spatial problems, designing, and doing crafts.
- Use art projects to create representations of the content you are learning.
- Draw related images next to your notes -- along with arrows between ideas -- to create connection and reference points.
- Organize with color. Use different-colored highlighters, paper, index cards, folders, or tabs to create a visual system for finding things and grouping topics.
- Visualize your topic. When you are learning something new, imagine what it looks like.
Additional Resources on Multiple Intelligences
- Multiple Intelligences: What Does the Research Say? by Edutopia Staff (2013)
Proposed by Howard Gardner in 1983, the theory of multiple intelligences has revolutionized how we understand intelligence. Learn more about the research behind his theory.
- Big Thinkers: Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences (Video), by Edutopia Staff (2009)
In our interview with Harvard University professor Howard Gardner, he shares his thoughts on multiple intelligences and new forms of assessment.
- How to Address Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, by Sara Bernard (2009)
Learn tips and resources for putting MI theory into practice.
- Multiple Intelligences Leave No Child Behind (Video), by Edutopia Staff (2009)
Watch how Indianapolis's Key Learning Community incorporates multiple intelligences into the curriculum.
- An Educator's Journey Toward Multiple Intelligences, by Scott Seider (2009)
Through MI, one teacher discovers how to better understand, relate to, and teach his students.
- How Learning Profiles Can Strengthen Your Teaching, by John McCarthy (2014)
Discover tools for using learning profiles to gain an in-depth understanding of how students learn.
Take or retake the Multiple Intelligences Self-Assessment, visit Edutopia's Multiple Intelligences page to find more articles, videos, and classroom ideas, or check out some of our other quizzes to explore how you measure up.