Classroom Implication of Multiple Intelligences

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A. The Multiple Intelligence Theory

The Multiple Intelligence Theory (MI) was developed by Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate Professor in the School of Education, in 1983. MI refers to a learner-based philosophy that characterizes human intelligence as having multiple dimensions that must be acknowledge and developed in education (Richards and Rodgers, 2006: 115).

MI theory challenges traditional, narrower views of intelligence, which is usually based on an IQ test, namely Stanford-Binet. The traditional theory of intelligence states that an individual’s intelligence is a fixed entity throughout someone’s lifetime and that intelligence can be measured through an individual’s logical and language abilities. In fact, the brain has not only logic and language ability, but also other important kinds of intelligence. Therefore, Gardner concludes that intelligence encompasses the ability to create and solve problems, create products, or provide services that are valued within a culture or society (Orey, 2010: 79).

B. The Eight Intelligences

Gardner introduced a perspective of natural human talents that is known as “Multiple Intelligences Model”. This model is one type of learning styles models that have been suggested in general education. Gardner claims that his view of intelligence is culture-free and avoids the conceptual narrowness usually associated with traditional models of intelligences, for example Intelligent Quotient testing model (Richards and Rodgers, 2006: 115). Gardner provides a means of mapping the broad range of abilities that humans possess by grouping their capabilities into the following eight comprehensive categories or “intelligences” (Armstrong, 2009: 6).

  1. Linguistic: The capacity to use words effectively, whether spoken or written. This intelligence encompasses the ability to manipulate the syntax or structure of language, the phonology or sounds of language, the semantics or meanings of language, and the pragmatic dimensions or practical uses of language. This intelligence is usually found in lawyers, writers, editors, story tellers, journalists, interpreters, etc. Teachers can enhance their students’ linguistic intelligence by having them say and see words, read books together, and by encouraging discussion (Lunenberg, 2014: 3).
  2. Logical-mathematical: The ability to use numbers effectively and think logically. This intelligence can be found in a doctor, engineer, computer programmer, scientist, accountant, statistician, etc. Teachers can strengthen this intelligence by encouraging the use of computer programming languages, critical–thinking activities, linear outlining, science-fiction scenarios, logic puzzles, and through the use of logical-sequential presentation of subject matter (Lunenberg, 2014: 3).
  3. Spatial: The capability to see the visual-spatial world accurately and to carry out transformations upon those perceptions. This intelligence is possessed by decorators, architects, painters, sculptors, etc. Teachers can foster this intelligence through drawings and verbal and physical imagery (Lunenberg, 2014: 4).
  4. Bodily-kinesthetic: Expertise in using one’s whole body to express ideas and feelings. In other words, a person who is having this kind of intelligence has a well-coordinated body. Athletes, craftsperson, actors, and dancers are good at this intelligence. Teachers may encourage growth in this area of intelligence through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing, and physical relaxation exercises (Lunenberg, 2014: 4).
  5. Musical: The ability to perceive, differentiate, transform, and express musical forms. This intelligence encompasses sensitivity to the rhythm, pitch or melody, and timbre or tone color of a musical piece. This ability belongs to a singer, composer, music critic, etc. Teachers can integrate activities into their lessons that encourage students’ musical intelligence by turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, and tapping out time (Lunenberg, 2014: 4).
  6. Interpersonal: The ability to be able to work well with other people. This intelligence is strong in salespersons, politicians, teachers, etc. Teachers can encourage the growth of interpersonal intelligence by designing lessons that include group activities, seminars, and dialogues (Lunenberg, 2014: 5).
  7. Intrapersonal: Self-knowledge and the ability to act adaptively on the basis of that knowledge. Theologian, researcher, and philosopher are god at this intelligence. This intelligence includes having an accurate picture of oneself (one’s strengths and limitations); awareness of inner moods, intentions, and motivations, temperaments, and desires; and the capacity for self-discipline, self-understanding, and self-esteem. Teachers can encourage growth of intrapersonal intelligence by assigning reflective activities, such as journal writing and independent study (Lunenberg, 2014: 5).
  8. Naturalist: The ability to understand and manage the patterns of nature. Possible careers for students who have this intelligence include ecologists, oceanographers, and zoologists. Teachers can enhance this intelligence by having students differentiate among living things (plants, animals), demonstrate sensitivity to the natural world (clouds, rock configurations) through the study of relationships such as pattern recognition and comparison and contrast and connections to real life and science issues (Lunenberg, 2014: 6).

C. MI in the Classroom

Every student possesses a unique intelligence. Unfortunately, our recent educational system emphasizes on traditional theory of intelligence, without paying attention to the student’s unique intelligence. Students are forced to master all materials which are stated in the curriculum. This model of learning treats the students as a poor learner, not self-actualizer. This differs from the recent theory of education, humanism theory, which pursues student’s self-actualization. Humanism emphasizes that in the world which we have been living in, the aim of education is to foster open-minded, dynamic and adjustable people who know how to learn, and continue to learn. According to this theory, if we want to change the present bad situation, we must establish the thought with the student as the subject, and respect the student, encourage them to think independently, at last make the student be independent and volunteer to do things, and they will become more confident (Jingna, 2012: 33). Therefore, to meet the aim of the education and the student’s unique intelligence, MI model is important to be implemented in the classroom.

Since MI model is very important in the teaching and learning process, some educators or teachers are expected to understand, master, and be committed to the MI model. Teachers are encouraged to set up learning centers with resources and materials that promote involving the different intelligences. Teachers then become curriculum developers, lesson designers and analysts, activity finders or inventors, and most critically orchestrators of a rich array of multisensory activities within the realistic constraints of time, space and resources of the classroom (Richards and Rodgers, 2006: 120).

In designing the MI classroom model, teachers are encouraged to think of their students, and do not only think of themselves. They have to set up learning centers with resources and materials that accommodate and develop the students’ intelligences. It is important for teachers to carefully select activities that not only teach to the intelligences, but also realistically mesh with the subject matter of the lesson or unit (Orey, 2010: 84). In addition, Richards and Rodgers (2006: 120) state that the MI classroom is designed to support development of the “whole person”, and the environment and its activities intended to enable students to become more well-rounded individuals and more successful learners in general. Moreover, the students will be aware of their own intelligences. The more awareness students have of their own intelligences and how they work, the more they will know how to use that intelligence to access the necessary information and knowledge from a lesson (Christison, 1997 in Richards and Rodgers, 2006: 120).

There are many ways to incorporate Multiple Intelligences theory into learning activities in the classroom. Here are some activities and materials that support the implementation of MI model in the classroom (adapted from Richards and Rodgers, 2006: 121).


Tabel 1    Taxonomy of Learning Activities for Multiple Intelligences

Linguistic Intelligence
Lectures Student speeches
Story telling Debates
Word games Worksheet
Creating class newspaper Collections of writing
Logical/Mathematical Intelligence
Scientific demonstration Creating codes
Puzzles Story problems
Spatial Intelligence
Charts, maps, diagrams Photography
Videos, slides, movies Mind maps
Art and other pictures Painting or drawing
Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence
Creative movement Field trips
Cooking and other “mess” activities Mime
Musical Intelligence
Playing recorded music Singing
Playing live music (guitar or piano) Music appreciation
Interpersonal Intelligence
Cooperative groups Board games
Peer teaching Pair work
Intrapersonal Intelligence
Independent student work Reflective learning
Options for homework Journal keeping
Interest centers Individual project
Naturalist Intelligence
Outside activities Using “realia”
Observations Field trip


Ultimately, MI theory used in conjunction with classroom management goes far beyond the provision of specific behavioral strategies and techniques (Armstrong, 2009: 120). The implementation of MI model in the teaching and learning process can greatly affect students’ behavior in the classroom simply by creating an environment where individual needs are accommodated. Students are less likely to be confused, frustrated, or stressed out in such an environment. As a result, the goal of education, which is to foster open-minded, dynamic and adjustable people who know how to learn, and continue to learn, can be achieved.



Amstrong, Thomas. 2009. Multiple Intelligences in The Classroom. Virginia: ACSD

Jingna, D.U. 2012.  Application of Humanism Theory in the Teaching Approach. Hiher Education of Social Science, 3(1) Retrieved November 15th, 2018 from

Lunenberg, C.F & Lunenberg, M.R. 2014. Applying Multiple Intelligences in The Classroom: A fresh Look at Teaching Writing. International Journal of Scholarly Academic Intellectual Diversity, 16 (1) Retrieved November 15th, 2018 from

Orey, Michael. 2010. Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology. Zurich: Jacobs Foundation

Richard, J.C. & Rodgers, T.S. 2006. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


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