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Howard Gardner and Applications of Multiple Intelligences Essay

Gardner believes that there are different ways of solving problems and that there are different ways that intellectual ability is manifested or expressed (Gardner, 1993; 1999). What had been accepted in education in general had been to assess students in terms of their capabilities in Science, Math and Language or Communication (English in written and spoken communication).

Gardner expanded this to what he termed as multiple intelligence which introduced the domains with which every individual may possess in whatever degree. These domains include, the logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, linguistic, intra and inter-personal, naturalistic and existential intelligences (Gardner, 1993; 1999).

There are evidences that support the theory in terms of the biological and cultural underpinnings such as those done on development focused on children, empirical research from individuals with brain damage and persons with giftedness. The theory has significant implications on both structure and curriculum in the educational setting such as the kind of set up with which the classroom is arranged or the strategies employed in introducing material or assessment of learning (Gardner, 1993; 1999).

Problem statement

Since Gardner believes that the educational setting at all levels must foster and promote the understanding of multiple intelligences the following pertinent parts of the educational set up involving curriculum and assessment strategies must be changed or reformed (Gardner, 1993; 1999). This research therefore attempts to answer the following problem statements: What is Multiple Intelligences as a framework in school? What is the description of a curriculum in the secondary level (high school) incorporating the Gardner theory? In this framework, how can assessment be done on student learning and overall progress of students?


Nature of the learner in the Secondary Level

There are basic observations gathered by experts on the kind of learner expected to enter into the secondary level. Since the concept of Multiple Intelligences by Gardner would be revolutionary even today, when in essence, most institutions of learning already recognized the brilliance and applicability of his position. It would be helpful to have alongside in the direction of this notion, quite important figures and principles that would further make the application of the Gardner framework in the secondary level easier to grasp and more feasible to comprehend.

The curriculum would serve to reflect how learners inch their way into the classroom and courses they are about to undertake and to finish. It is always important to start right by understanding how the learner apprehends and appreciates the material, his preparation in terms of physical, emotional, and psychological maturity, and the way these materials or knowledge could be absorbed and thereafter applied at the correct time and place. It was Malcolm Knowles (1978, 1990) and his theory andragogy who emphasized the model of adult learning.

The premise is based on his hypothesis that the maturation of an individual into adulthood is manifest when people conduct themselves in adult behavior and consider themselves to be adults. Then they should be dealt with as adults. By adulthood people are self-directing. Knowles taught that adult education was special in a several ways. This will mean that the presence or absence of some significant details will improve or pull down adult learning experience. This implies that knowledgeable background on adults and the developmental characteristics of that particular stage will spell effective or disastrous results.

This paper attempts to show the various positive and negative learning environments specifically for adults. Positive Learning Environment include: 1. Adult learners carry with them a vast amount of experience to the learning environment. This means that tuning in to their particular psyche creates a conducive atmosphere for learning; 2. Adults expect on the kind of training they are exposed to and how they are to be educated. Example:

Unlike the younger learners where most take on passive role, adults have goals in mind and the learning they receive must fall within those predetermined personal goals; 3. the active involvement of students should be encouraged in planning and implementing educational programs; 4. Adults need to be able to see applications for new learning; 5. Adult learners expect to have a high degree of influence on how learning will be evaluated; 6. Adults expect their responses to be acted upon when asked for feedback on the progress of the program. Andragogy is therefore student-centered, experience-based, problem-oriented and collaborative (Brooks, J 1995). On the other hand, the following can influence adults specifically in the learning experience in an unhelpful way.

The Negative Learning Environment includes the fact that: 1. some adults can move toward prescribed educational settings with anxiety and feelings of high or low self-efficacy. Their method to new learning milieus can be prejudiced by how they assess or evaluate the new experience. A case in point: given two adults in a classroom where an exercise is about to begin, one individual may interpret the assignment in such a way that leads to a feeling of ‘excitement’, while another individual interprets the task in such a way that leads to the feeling of ’embarrassment’. It is a fact that the way the individual interprets the situation and the consequent emotion that arises, will affect the kind of action the individual is to take (Burns, 1995, p.16).

Burns considers that such assessments, together with the labels such as ‘fear’ or ‘anxiety’ can direct some learners to psychologically disengage from the source of distress that is the learning experience. Conversely, when coupled with labels such as ‘excitement’ or ‘challenge’ the learner is conducted to take measures that focus on the undertaking.

With this slant, the abovementioned findings just aptly show how the Multiple Intelligences framework is the better if not best option to amplify what adult learning insights have offered and how the issues are met and addressed. It would seem that the Gardner framework can be both an approach in the arrangement of teacher’s approach to the student’s ease assimilating information and training of skills development; Gardner’s framework serves as assessment tool as well to further check and evaluate status of learning as well as secure its usefulness (i.e., training and knowledge) for a future job (Gardner, 1993; 1999).

The curriculum then would appear more like a university level type that can be seen as implementation of several tracks, individualized in nature, with personal advising installed, and students are evaluated on their overall grade point average performance. Personality tests that are primarily geared to measure the Gardner “traits” are indispensable tools to discovering the possession of either or combinations of the “intelligences” (Gardner, 1993; 1999). On the course or subject level, students are also handled in individual cases but getting used to the variations will be established in the long run and may no longer be as difficult to implement and follow-up.

Evaluation of the student performance and any behavioural changes are pertinent tasks that teachers are to be cognizant of. In this manner, the application of formative and summative assessments would not only be appropriate but timely as well. According to studies on the subject, both summative and formative assessments are employed to provide a very objective result as to the efficiency and efficacies not only of the teacher’s methods. The evaluation itself (i.e., assessment for and of learning) is a vital factor that is found to help the student realize his potentials and attenuate the weaknesses he’s had in the process of learning (Northern Arizona University, 2009).

I believe that the methods of evaluating the interventions for the problem cannot be easily applied or even seen/grasped. However, this can only be understood well when applied (hands-on) to a particular school, class, and individual during a certain period like during the first half of a given school year. A detailed lesson plan, or syllabus is part of this tool with specific dates and key result areas to serve as a guide.

This way, every student has each given the chance to shine his best and not just be a statistic in an otherwise lopsided contest where no real winners are found but instead disillusionment for failed dreams and succumbing to societal pressures are more common and expected.


Brooks, J (1995) Training and Development Competence: a practical guide Kogan Page, London.

Burns, S. (1995) ‘Rapid changes require enhancement of adult learning’ HRMonthly June, pp 16-17.

Knowles, M.S. (1978) The Adult Learner: a Neglected Species 2nd edition, Houston: Gulf Publishing Company, Book Division  and Knowles, M.S. 1990 The Adult Learner: a Neglected Species 4th edition, Houston: Gulf Publishing Company, Book Division.

Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple intelligences: the theory in practice. New York, NY: Basic Books. And Gardner, H. (1999). Multiple approaches to understanding. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-design theories and models (pp. 69-90). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Northern Arizona University. Formative vs. Summative Evaluation. Retrieved on May 9, (2009), from

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