Howard Gardner and Incorporating Multiple Intelligences

A few weeks ago in my Teaching and Facilitating Learning class at Lake Washington Technical College, we discussed the work of Howard Gardner.   Gardner is a Harvard professor whose research work focused on the theory of multiple intelligences.  In the classroom, this translates into the fact that we must incorporate several learning styles into our instruction, rather than just relying on straight lecture.  The main 8 Intelligences that Gardner posits are:

  1. Linguistic
  2. Logical-Mathematical
  3. Visual-Spatial
  4. Bodily-Kinesthetic
  5. Musical
  6. Naturalist
  7. Interpersonal
  8. Intrapersonal

The challenge for my assignment was to take a current lesson plan that I teach and address the intelligences that are used in the instruction and discuss ways that I could incorporate more intelligences into the lesson.  One of the struggles with selecting a lecture for this process is the fact that my class topic sometimes dictates automatically what intelligences are used for learning.  For instance — if I am teaching a software class, such as Final Cut Pro.  The hands on nature of that class is naturally going to lean more toward the Kinesthetic, while when I teach a Film Theory class it will lend itself more to the Visual-Spatial.  I guess the key however, is recognizing that no matter what a class naturally lends itself toward, there are always ways to incorporate multiple intelligences into a lesson plan.

The lesson that I have chosen for this exercise is a lesson on Commercial Concepting from my Digital Storytelling Course.  My lesson plans are roughly outlined in the PowerPoints that I use in the class.  To get an idea of what I do, you can look at the PowerPoint in the embed below.

Currently, I feel that most of the lecture is set up in my own learning style, which leans more toward the Interpersonal, Visual-Spatial, and Linguistic.  I like to talk and discuss issues.  The way that I learn best is by talking in large groups and through the comments of others coming to conclusions about things that I observe.  Because of this, I count most of my class time to be filled with student discussion.  I rely on that discussion to make sure that students are understanding the things that I am teaching them.

Probably the best way to assess this lecture would be to list the Intelligences and see the way that each is addressed in the lesson.  Feel free to correct me if you don’t think that certain activities are properly addressing the intelligences.

  • Linguistic — Discussion of “What makes an effective commercial?”  Usually lends itself to discussion of need for commercials in society
  • Logical-Mathematical — not currently present in lecture
  • Visual-Spatial — watching examples of commercials and how they exemplify the topic
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic  — Having students use Celtx software to write their own commercial script
  • Musical  — Not currently present
  • Naturalist  — not currently present
  • Interpersonal  —  YouTube search activity: students share examples with each other of commercials they found
  • Intrapersonal —  Students go off to find their own example of a Branding or Informational Commercial

So from this exercise, it looks like I am doing an okay job of incorporating these intelligences into my lecture (or at least this one lecture).  The problem remains however, what do I do about those intelligences that don’t naturally lend themselves to my Video Production classroom — especially when talking about something abstract as Storytelling?  Here are some quick thoughts of things that I could do in each of the missing categories:

  • Logical-Mathematical:  Give students a problem scenario.  They need to create a commercial for a certain product.  What elements do they need to gather in order to finish planning the commercial.
  • Musical:  Pitch students different parts of a commercial treatment, have them pick out a song that they think would go well with the commercial.  Helps them contemplate mood and the role of music in the storytelling process.
  • Naturalist:  Have the students do a quick location scout.  They could go outside and document different locations that might lend themselves to a given commercial.  How does the location influence the mood of the commercial/story?

It seems as though the incorporating all of the intelligences isn’t too much of a stretch in any assignment.  While I initially thought that there was no way that I could incorporate the Naturalist intelligence into my work, the idea that I came up with came quickly and legitimately.  I think it would be a great exercise for a video student to document their natural environment.   In the same way, we can gradually little exercises into our lessons which can further help our students who may learn differently.

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  • Heidi Shepherd

    I am a firm believer that as an instructor I learn just as much or more from my students….especially in the area of technology! Thanks for nudging me forward once again.
    Heidi