by Lola Prieto and Carmen Ferrándiz
Prof. Lola Prieto is a professor of Educational Psychology
in the University of Murcia (Spain). She graduated in Pedagogy and
Psychology from Valencia University. She specialized in Learning
Potential Assessment with Dr. Reuven Feuerstein in Jerusalem. She
has also worked in Triarchic Intelligence Theory in Yale University
with Professor Robert Sternberg. She has published several books
and articles focusing on learning strategies, education of gifted
children, multiple intelligences, and intellectual styles.
Prof. Carmen Ferrándiz is an assistant researcher for
the Spanish Ministry of Education and graduated in Pedagogy from
Murcia University. She is doing her Ph.D. in Multiple Intelligences.
She has been in Yale University working with Professor Robert Sternberg
in Tacit Knowledge and Triarchic Intelligence Theory. Prof. Ferrándiz
has published some articles about gifted and talented children,
creativity, multiple intelligences and learning styles. She and
Professor Prieto have published the book entitled Multiple
Intelligences and the School Curriculum.
Correlating Kindergarten with College
when Howard Gardner published Frames of Mind, nobody would
have imagined the educational implications that the theory was going
to have. Most of these implications have been felt in elementary
and secondary education. Largely because of efforts such as the
conference at New Jersey City University, it is becoming apparent
that Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory (MI) is also
relevant at the post-secondary level.
Although it is not often discussed, there seems to be a correspondence
between (1) the unique combination of skills and abilities that
students have before they ever set foot in a classroom, and (2)
the skills and abilities that they will use to pursue advanced studies
in post-secondary education. Ideally, if teachers along the way
are aware of and respect these abilities, then each student’s
journey through elementary and secondary school will be based on
his or her well established areas of strength.
It is of critical importance that the existence of special abilities
and talents be recognized at all levels including kindergarten and
college. Such recognition provides for a wide, harmonious and continuous
development of human interests. In such an environment, each student
senses the teacher’s welcoming acceptance and approval. There
emerges a confidence on the part of the student who can then find
or create a set of activities and interests that has a deep and
personal meaning for him or her. These activities should be nurtured
and developed to the fullest extent possible.
On the other hand, a broader and more inclusive approach on the
part of the teacher will promote a richer and more fulfilling development
of the skills that are so valuable at higher levels. Post-secondary
teaching should not be considered as inherently different from the
lower levels. Although the material is more complex, the students
have not put away the psycho-dynamic structure of approaches and
attitudes that made them unique individuals in their youth. In the
essays in this book, again and again, we see teachers who are courageous
enough to operate according to the principles that constitute MI
Theory. The effect seems obvious and perfectly predictable—students
are more interested, learn more and are very probably less inclined
to leave the university. In fact, though it would be difficult to
measure, data might well be kept on the relation between teaching
style and retention.
Such parallels of interest and ability might seem obvious, but
quite often they are neglected. Education designed without such
an awareness will very likely be narrow, disconnected and inefficient.
One example of this occurs if we accept the belief that I.Q. scores
are sufficient and dependable indicators of the general ability
to learn. A person who makes a low score often suffers from it during
all of the years of study and even later in the career to which
he is guided. This is quite unfortunate, considering that what the
traditional I.Q. test measures is limited to ability in mathematics
and language. In itself, this is quite useful. But these tests say
little or nothing of the individual’s ability to relate to
other persons or to the self, of the architect’s ability to
perceive and work with space, of the artist’s ability to find
relationships between color and form that human beings will perceive
as pleasing and beautiful, of the musicians ability to find different
progressions of chords that resonate in the human mind and emotions.
In short, they are about those things that we consider dear to us
as feeling human beings.
In methodology that is broad and intended to include different
abilities and talents, children tend to respond in terms of their
own talents and abilities and to become more involved in the activities
of the classroom. It is a win-win situation. They feel more fulfilled
as children and are more productive as adults. There is a place
for each of them in our society, and it is our responsibility to
help them find it. All people have the right to lead lives in which
they are aware of what they do well, and hopefully can be employed
in those areas.
If a man like Beethoven or Shakespeare scores relatively low on
an I.Q. test, does this mean that his life will be narrow and uninteresting?
Hardly. However, outrageous tragedies of frustration and feelings
of low self-esteem will occur if we attempt to apply the results
of the traditional I.Q. scores to areas where they have no meaning.
In this book, a wonderful thing is done. Specific subjects taught
in the university such as history, statistics, language, art, biology,
music, and education itself are dealt with from points of view that
focus on the student’s individual combination of skills and
abilities, as well as from deep respect of the academic field.
As we suggested above, the phenomena of multiple intelligences
does not vanish after elementary school, but remains as an integral
part of the lifelong intellectual and personality profile of a person.
Through a high level of personal commitment, each contributor to
this book shows a high respect—not only for the different
fields of study—but for the perspectives of the learner and
of his of her human potential. This is being done more and more
in pre-university education. There is a time for all things, and
the time for the application of Multiple Intelligences Theory to
post-secondary education is here.
For the above reasons, we welcome the efforts being made by the
contributors to this anthology. In university classrooms and faculty
lounges, methodology is not often spoken of. These writer/professors,
however, have demonstrated here the courage, not only to talk about
techniques that might work, but to discuss in detail the practices
and principles they are following with their students today. This
approximates a paradigm shift in higher education from the widespread
preoccupation with the lectern and the lecture. We applaud their
noble and productive efforts. They show us how we can make university
education a broader and more fulfilling experience for all students.
We also salute the attempt to cooperate in the transformation of
college-level teaching methods being made by New Jersey City University
in the USA. They are, by example, doing a much-needed and innovative
service for higher education in all countries.
A Very Brief Introduction to Multiple Intelligences
Gardner assumes that intelligence is multi-dimensional and that
people have different cognitive potentials, which implies different
cognitive styles. He has identified the existence of eight intelligences
or capacities required for problem solving or for making products
which are valued in a cultural context. These intelligences are
Linguistic, Mathematical/Logical, Musical, Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic,
Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalistic. One aim of Multiple
Intelligences Theory (MI) is to assess and identify the strengths
of students in different learning areas. For that purpose, a set
of instruments, measurements and procedures have been designed to
evaluate abilities, knowledge and attitudes implicit in the learning
process. The most important is related to observation. The best
way to evaluate MI is to observe the child while he/she learns by
manipulating materials. MI includes a set of tasks which, when performed,
allow the child to express his/her cognitive competence within specific
curriculum areas such as math, writing, reading, and science.
Assessment is a dynamic process for obtaining information about
individual potential, with the aim of achieving useful data about
the cognitive profile of the pupils. The difference between this
kind of assessment and the test is that in the former, we include
all kinds of information derived from the teaching-learning process
within the classroom context. The project offers teachers a portfolio
assessment, whose objective is to design the cognitive profile of
MI and the Curriculum
MI has made a great contribution
to education because it offers a large repertoire of techniques,
strategies and tools for teaching the eight intelligences throughout
the curriculum as well as at all school levels. The psycho-pedagogical
roots of MI theory are in Maria Montessori, Decroly and Dewey, who
defend the school centered on the individual. Montessori believed
that children learn through the senses. She designed a set of materials
to develop the children’s awareness of their ability to make
sense of their experience. In order to do this, Montessori designed
didactic materials to prepare the children to acquire learning in
such areas as writing, reading and math. She was also interested
in the child’s abilities and strategies for every-day life.
Decroly based his teaching methods on the active experience of
the child, who learns through his/her own interests. For him, the
globalization of education is important. This will take place through
the “interest centers,” which are complex thematic units
where the diverse contents of subjects are grouped, with some relations
between them. One “interest center” could include some
notions of language, natural sciences, social sciences, and math,
all of which could be studied at different levels according to the
interests and capacities of the child. Observation is the tool which,
according to Decroly, is used to awaken the child’s interest
The influence of Decroly in Gardner’s work is clear because
he includes and uses Decroly´s “interest centers”
as a way of organizing the classroom, so that all the children explore
the materials of the eight intelligences. Gardner uses Decroly´s
ideas and proposes “learning centers” as a way of creating
learning spaces, organized around learning domains, where a set
of materials in which each of the intelligences is manifest, are
included. Dewey’s concepts of learning by doing, instruction
centered on the individual as well as cooperative learning, are
present in the instructional principles of MI theory. Both Gardner
and Dewey believed that the child has to interact with the learning
materials and his/her peers, discovering and building through social
In short, in MI Theory, Gardner includes the following New School
principles: a) the classroom is a pedagogical laboratory where the
child learns by doing; b) in the classroom, work is organized according
to the children’s interests and capabilities in such a way
as to awake their creativity; c) the classroom activities are centered
on the individual and his/her diversity; d) cooperative learning
is encouraged; and e) the school prepares the child to be a future
MI Theory and Teachers
There are a large number
of teaching and assessment strategies which go beyond traditional
methods of instruction:
a) The identification of the strengths and weaknesses
that the children
show while learning.
b) The development of the identified strengths, so that they can
be used to
reduce weaknesses during the teaching-learning process.
c) The teaching of children to transfer the experiences involving
strengths to other curriculum contents where they could have weaknesses.
To achieve these aims, the teacher has a wide variety of materials
and instructional strategies for each of the eight intelligences.
MI and Special Education
In the MI school, there
many interesting initiatives with respect to educational innovation.
An important aspect that must be highlighted is the attention given
to children with special needs in the ordinary classroom (both children
with learning difficulties and gifted children). The findings of
MI theory take into account the fact that everybody has strengths
and weaknesses within the eight intelligences. For this reason,
it offers a much wider and more natural context in which to understand
the teaching learning process. In this sense, we all have weaknesses
in some intelligence: the MI Theory works within the parameters
of a growth paradigm versus a deficit paradigm. Some points of interest
are: a) the establishment of new and more efficient collaborative
teaching and learning models; b) the avoidance of labels; c) the
use of materials, strategies, and activities for different intelligences;
and d) the improvement of the instructional process to facilitate
the development of personal and social interaction.
A Project in Murcia
Some years ago, a field of
research was begun in Murcia (in the South of Spain) whose aim was
to validate MI Theory in the classroom. The aim of the Spectrum
Project is to develop an innovative approach to assessment and curriculum
for the preschool and early primary years. The work was based on
the conviction that each child exhibits a distinctive profile of
different abilities, or spectrum of intelligences. The following
procedure was used: first, the Spectrum Project’s materials
were translated and adapted for Preschool and Primary children;
secondly, the cognitive competence of 237 children was evaluated
using eleven activities from the Spectrum Project; thirdly, an IQ
test to measure cognitive profiles was used; finally the data was
analyzed using the statistic procedure employed by Krechevsky and
Throughout this study, we have highlighted the innovations of the
MI model, pointing out the richness of the data and information
when it comes to evaluating competence in the students. Although
this evaluation supposes an alternative to psychometrics, in our
empirical study we have used it complementarily to contrast the
two types of information: quantitative and qualitative. The MI evaluation
model permits us to design the classroom profile, detecting the
strong points and gaps in basic abilities which make up each of
The procedure suggested by MI to assess students’ ability,
knowledge, attitude, and work habits can be adjusted quite well
to the teaching-learning process that occurs inside the classroom.
It is a very useful procedure, especially for assessing exceptional
students. What distinguishes this type of evaluation with respect
to psychometrics is that techniques are used to extract information
about the use that students make of their abilities and knowledge
during the teaching-learning process. Based on our experience, we
would like to highlight some of the repercussions of MI Theory.
On Our Schools:
On Our Students:
- It allows the creation of efficient schools centred on the
- It focuses inclusive classroom where all kinds of intelligences
and ways of
learning have a place.
On Our Teachers:
- It instills in them the necessity and curiosity to discover.
- It teaches them to think by exploring different alternatives,
using all the
information processing channels.
On Our Curriculum:
- It trains them in methodology focused on exploiting the hidden
the students, especially those who need tutorial learning.
- It offers them strategies and resources for teaching the children
spectrum of learning areas.
On Our Parents:
- MI theory allows us to design strategies for the transfer of
skills beyond the classroom.
- MI theory enriches the curriculum and favours the multimodal
through which any content can be learnt through all the processing
- They are involved in MI teaching, because they can help their
the teachers to develop different skills.
- It teaches them to observe how the different intelligences
are shown in an
This book offers a wide range of experiences and reflections on
MI Theory that are taking place in the USA. Throughout the chapters,
diverse strategies are presented to apply the theory to the classroom
and the curriculum. The derivation of the model for the study of
biology, statistic, music, inter and intra skills development, and
creativity are also discussed. The authors try to adapt MI theory
to individual cases throughout the teaching-learning process. In
each chapter the authors present constructivism philosophy from
which this model emanates.
Decroly, O. (1929). La function de globalization et son application
l’enseignment. Paris: Lamertin.
Dewey, J. (1906). The School and the Child. London:
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Krechevsky, M. and Gardner, H. (1990). “The Emergence and
Multiple Intelligences: The Project Spectrum Approach” in
Development of Exceptional Skills and Talents. (221-244)
M.J.A., Howe (comp.).
Leicester: The British Psychological Society.
Montessori, M. (1964). The Montessori Method. London: