Theory of multiple intelligences

Intelligence is understood as a cognitive process, involving understanding how we retain knowledge.


There is no one-size-fits-all with learning, which is why theorist Howard Gardner came up with the ‘Theory of Multiple Intelligences.’


Gardner suggests that there are multiple methods of teaching information, which may have to be presented in different ways for different people to understand and retain it. The ‘Theory of multiple Intelligences’ is helpful to many educators, as they are able to learn the different ways of teaching information and implement it, in order for it to be grasped and understood.


There are Eight Intelligences, according to Gardner, which each help to understand how different people process information:


Verbal-linguistic intelligence:

This way of learning involves understanding spoken and written information most effectively. It involves learning through communication as well as processing information in the form of text.


Logical-mathematical intelligence:

Learning through mathematics involves the ability to process numbers, equations, shapes and calculations.


Visual-spatial intelligence:

Visual-spatial refers to the ability to read and understand maps and graphical information.


Musical intelligence:

Enables the individual to interpret and make meaning out of different types of sounds.


Naturalistic intelligence:

Naturalistic involves knowledge and understanding of the natural world; identifying different types of animals, plants and weather formations.


Body-kinaesthetic intelligence:

This learning technique is about using the body to grasp concepts through movement. People that are hands-on, kinaesthetic learners learn by doing, and may be talented in physical activity because of this.


Interpersonal intelligence:

Someone who is interpersonal has the ability to understand other people’s emotions and moods and is able to come to a conclusion based upon reading these. This helps with reading, gauging and interacting with others, involving verbal and non-verbal communication.


Intrapersonal intelligence:

Intrapersonal means that the individual is self-aware and can understand their own characteristics like their emotions, beliefs and ambitions. This person works best by themselves and is aware of their own learning.


Gardner’s ‘Theory of Multiple Intelligences ‘ is useful for identifying individual learning styles and knowing the ways in which people learn best. It is especially useful for schools, being able to assist and implement different learning strategies through knowing the Eight Intelligences. If someone learns best through body-kinaesthetic, they might grasp the concept best through physical, hand-on tasks. The understanding of different learning strategies and ability to identify which way of learning works best for the individual may improve the learning process.


For more information on how to understand and teach Gardner’s learning styles, click here.

If you want to know other methods of learning and reflecting upon the learning process, read about Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle.