Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory

Book Club: Gardner, H. (2011). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. Basic books. (review)

Domains of Intelligence


“The theory of multiple intelligences differentiates intelligence into specific ‘modalities’, rather than seeing intelligence as dominated by a single general ability. Gardner opposes the idea of labeling learners to a specific intelligence. Gardner maintains that his theory should “empower learners”, not restrict them to one modality of learning” (Wikipedia, 2017).

Learning Modalities

  • Active learning
  • Hands on
  • Exploration
  • Questionning
  • Transform understanding
  • Individuality in learning
  • Active assessments

Looks Like Learning Styles

A major criticism of the the theory, is that it is very similar to learning styles theory, and both are missing supporting evidence to support such an educational approach. This lack of empirical evidence is summarised by Waterhouse (2006).

The Educator Role

The end point is to empower the learner, and for the teacher to improve learning situations. Different learning intelligence’s may be considered more relevant in the diverse world of real work-life situations, especially when compared to standardised intelligence and validity of IT tests which can be classified as “mainstream” assessments. Is this a theory which is too hard to measure due to the individualistic and non-tangible aspects or simply lacking in hard evidence?

Supporting Resources

Gardner, H. (2011). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. Basic books (review).

Harvard Graduate Scool of Education (2017) Project Zero.

Hattie, J. (2011). Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning. New York, NY: Routledge. (summary).

Northern Illinois University (2017). Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.

Nursing Education Network. (2016) Learning Styles.

Waterhouse, L. (2006). Multiple intelligences, the Mozart effect, and emotional intelligence: A critical reviewEducational Psychologist41(4), 207-225.

Wikipedia. (2017). Theory of Multiple Intelligences.