Home Online Learning Multiple Intelligences (Part 1): How Many Do You Have?

Multiple Intelligences (Part 1): How Many Do You Have?


Many students understand that they possess a unique combination of learning styles. Learning styles may be referred to as learning modalities, or learning preferences. Regardless of what they are called, they are the ways in which learners receive and processes information through their senses. The four common categories of learning styles are considered to be visual, aural, reading/writing, and kinesthetic/tactile. Together, these are sometimes referred to as VARK.

Did you know that you may also possess as many as nine different types of intelligences? In the 1980s, Howard Gardner introduced the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI). Gardner established seven separate intelligences. Later he added Naturalistic and Existential.

The nine intelligences are:

  • Verbal/Linguistic
  • Logical/Mathematical
  • Visual/Spatial
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic
  • Musical
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
  • Naturalistic
  • Existential

While there is general acceptance of Naturalistic, there is debate regarding the validity of Existential, so more study needs to be dedicated to it. While learning styles theory emphasizes the intake of information through the senses, MI concentrates on the cognitive processes that take place once that information arrives to the brain.

Previously accepted ideas of human intellectual capacity contend that an individual’s intelligence is fixed throughout one’s lifetime and that intelligence can be measured and expressed as a single entity via an assigned IQ score. Traditionally, IQ scores focused mainly on verbal and linguistic skills.

According to Gardner’s theory, intelligence encompasses the ability to create and solve problems, create products or provide services that are valued within a culture or society. Just as an individual will possess a unique combination of learning styles, everyone also possesses a unique combination of intelligences. Gardner concluded that all human beings possess all nine intelligences in varying degrees, each individual has a different intelligence profile, each intelligence occupies a different area of the brain, and the nine intelligences may operate in concert or independently from one another. The advantage to you as a student or teacher is that learning can be improved by assessment of students’ intelligence profiles and designing activities accordingly.

In order to determine your type of intelligence, or combination of, take a self-assessment created by Literacy.org.

By Craig Gilman
Faculty Member at American Public University



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