Multiple Intelligences and Software

by Ellen Johnson

What is Multiple Intelligences?

Multiple Intelligence theory was developed by Howard Gardner who brought the educational world the idea that "an intelligence is a psychobiological potential to process information so as to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in at least one cultural context" (Gardner, 2004,pg.3) (This theory differs from the classical view of intelligence which is traditionally assessed by an IQ test.) His first mention of Multiple Intelligences came in his book Frames of Mind. In this book he theorizes that each individual is in possession of various degrees of 7 (now 8 and a proposed 9th) identified forms of intelligence. Human Beings coordinate the use of these intelligences to accomplish certain tasks.
Therefore the question is not "Am I smart?". The question is "How am I smart?".

Below are the 7 original Intelligences initially proposed by Howard Gardner:

external image multiple_intelligence_wheel.jpg

To learn more about these intelligences as well as the additional intelligences of Naturalism and Existentialism please see The Nine Types of Intelligence.

8 Criteria to be an Intelligence

An intelligence as defined by Howard Gardner must meet 8 criteria:

  1. Isolation as a Brain Function
  2. Existences of Prodigies, Savants, and Exceptional Individuals
  3. Set of Core Operations
  4. Developmental History with and Expert End Performance
  5. Evolutionary History
  6. Supported Psychological Tasks
  7. Supported Psychometric Tasks
  8. Encoded into a Symbol System

According to Gardner, the classical view of intelligence and the main focus in our educational system only recognizes the Verbal Linguistic Intelligence and the Logical/Mathematical Intelligence and thus is systematically unfair to a large part of the population who have strengths in many other types of Intelligence.

Howard Gardner on the Educational System:

external image moz-screenshot-6.png

Know Thyself and Know Thy Learners

Ancient Greek aphorism "know thyself" is important when developing lessons that incorporate the multiple intelligences because it brings awareness to the intelligences the instructor brings to the table. Once the instructors' intuitive approach is accounted for, the students' perspective must be considered. Research done by Monica W. Tracey (2007) emphasizes the importance of using the multiple intelligence profiles of the students in her study on design and development of instructional systems. These ideas were echoed is Osciak and Milheim's (2001) research on developing on-line learning experiences that are "diversified, exploratory, guided and soundly constructed" (Osciak & Milheim, 2001, pg. 4). The multitude of technological tools available in an online setting helps instructors meet the students' preferred method of delivery as defined by their intelligences.

(Tracey, 2007)

Take the Learning Style Quiz to get an idea of which of the Intelligences you favor most.

Here is a checklist for your students to assess their profile of intelligence: M/I Checklist
and here is one if you want students to assess themselves: Multiple Intelligence Checklist

How do you incorporate Multiple Intelligences in your curriculum?

While traditional education may still emphasize Verbal / Linguistic and Logical / Mathematical areas of intelligence, more and more teachers are recognizing the benefits of addressing lessons with multiple intelligences in mind. This perspective taking may influence a teacher to use music, art, movement, student to student interaction etc.. in addition to the reading and writing to create an impact for their students that may be more easily reached by another form of intelligence.

In the Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, in Gainesville, Georgia the students experience a variety of different learning opportunities to practice their different "smarts" (the kid friendly word for intelligences). The school has built it's own school village called Smartville in which the students perform the functions of post office workers, bankers, etc... They use the multiple intelligences to keep the students motivated and engaged.

Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, in Gainesville, Georgia

Below is a short video describing a K-12 Indianapolis public school that is called Key Learning Community. At this school, multiple intelligences are the main focus as students are allowed to experiment in a variety of learning styles and create projects that flow from their natural interests. Technology is an important part of the process as students access it to present and teach others what they have investigated and learned.

To Read more about Key Learning Community and the amazing things they are doing see The Key to Learning: A Place for Meaningful Academic Exploration by Sara Armstrong.

Here is a task list for incorporating different "smarts" into your classroom: Task Choices for Multiple Intelligences

Multiple Intelligences and Technology

McCahill (1994) studied the empowerment of learners as she followed 10th grade students creating their own Cloze Encounters puzzle on any topic. Students were invited to be creative in designing their clues and to incorporate graphics, animation, music, thought provoking questions as they saw fit. Students used their communicative strengths to drive the creative process of this project and thus procedures were not dictated by the teacher. They were also called to consider the perspective of other students who might not share their particular strengths in order to review and revise the puzzle. The task structure encouraged the learners to use higher-order thinking and to direct their learning. The project was evaluated by a variety on angles including the teacher, the student themselves, and peers who experienced the presentation and puzzle.

Howard Gardner on Technology and Ethical Standards

While technology certainly increases the capacity for self-directed learning makes it possible to individualize learning based on individual preferences of certain intelligences it is important to be ethical when it comes to digital media. Below is Howard Gardner as he talks about the research he has done addressing the ethical concerns as we immerse students in digital media.

5 Ethical Issues
  1. Sense of Identity
  2. Sense of Privacy
  3. Sense of Authorship / Ownership
  4. Trustworthiness / Credibility
  5. What it means to be a Community (of unknown size and duration)

Technology Resources that Utilize Multiple Intelligences

The nature of multiple intelligences gives an instinctual draw to using certain forms of technology in which to best communicate learning. Below is a spreadsheet compiled from

Technology Resource Table

Verbal Linguistic
Logical / Mathematical
Visual / Spatial
Bodily / Kinesthetic
Musical / Rhythmic
being the secretary, taking notes, and using the word processor, organizing the group's text and putting the project together, researching, listening, reading, and writing aspects of a research project
collecting data, conducting experiments, and solving problems, creating spreadsheets, databases, charts, and other data organization and calculation projects would be their contribution to a group, problem solving, measuring, sequencing, predicting, experimenting, classifying, and data collection aspects of a research project
illustrating the project, identifying the visuals, color-coding the presentation, and creating the storyboard for the project, identifying project visuals and visualizing aspects of a research project
gathering and organizing physical materials, keyboarding, acting out roles, or manipulating objects, run the camera, operate the mouse, or take the pictures
choose and compose music for multimedia presentations, see and hear patterns, so they may be good at sequencing a presentation, ask them to look for things that might be missing after watching a videotape
setting and pursuing goals and assessing work, working independently toward a group goal
rallying the group together and getting discussions going, teaching other members of the group and coordinating activities, good at peer editing.
enjoy field trips that involve observation and recording the world around them
seeing the "big picture" of human existence by asking philosophical questions about the world.
Web development tools
Organizational tools
(databases, calendars)
Photo sharing websites
Keyboarding, mouse, joystick, and other devices for movement
Video and audio recorders
Computer-based journaling
Audio and video cameras

PDF files
Calculation tools (spreadsheets)
Comics and Sequential art
Scientific probes and microscopes
Sound and music files
Concept maps
Email projects
Digital cameras

Word processing (Word, Appleworks)
Online calculation tools and utilities
CAD - Computer-Aided Design
Video production - skits, dances, sports, role playing, demonstrations
Music clips
Problem solving software - self paced software
Word processing to journal natural information

Concept Mapping Tools (Kidspiration, Inspiration
Scientific equipment (probes)
Animation software
Animation - Macromedia Flash
Music generation software
Internet research - self paced
Word processing - chain writing, group editing, peer writing, brainstorming
Data organization and calculation (database, spreadsheet) - observations

Writing a video script
Science and math software
Puzzle building tools
Claymation - sequence of movement
Animation - Macromedia Flash
Word processing - brainstorming, diaries, journals
Desktop presentations (Powerpoint) - show tends and changes over time
interactive communication

Voice annotation in word processing
Draw programs - Illustrator, CorelDraw
Handheld Palms and Alphasmart - you can carry them everywhere
Music composition software
Video projects - record personal ideas
Forums and discussions
Use microscopes and probes - nature up close

Using comments in word processing
Paint programs - Photoshop, Paint, KidPix, AppleWorks
Virtual Field Trip - using and creating
DVDs and CD-audios
Multimedia portfolios
Video and teleconferencing
Geocaching - GPS

Desktop publishing (Publisher, Pagemaker) - the text aspect, bookmaking
Graphing calculators and software
Timeline making - Tom Snyder's Timeliner
Lego Logo and Robotics - other construction kit projects
Interactive books with audio elements
Group decisions software - Tom Snyder's decision

Desktop presentation (PowerPoint, Astound) - the text organization aspect
Multimedia authoring (HyperStudio) - show results, animate
Imaging software - Fireworks
Digital still and video cameras - skits, plays, role playing, demonstrations
Audio notation in word processors

Social networks

Story-creation software (poems, essays, letters)
Videotape - experiments, demonstrations, data gathering
Desktop publishing (Publisher, Pagemaker) - layout aspect
Virtual worlds
Music sharing sites

Webquests with collaborative elements

Multimedia authoring (HyperStudio) - the text aspects
Animation - demonstrate an experiment
Desktop presentation (PowerPoint, Astound) - visual layout aspect

Video recording - sharing with others through skits, debates, role plays

Audio recorders and digitizers - recording oral histories and interviews
Desktop presentation (PowerPoint) - show results
Computer-generated charts, graphs, and tables (Graph Action; Graph Club)

Collaborative computer software or games

Video recording - text aspect
Online data collection
Spreadsheets for charts and graphs

Group presentations (PowerPoint)

storytelling, news program, interview, scripting, choral reading, retelling,
Problem solving software
Web development tools

Telecommunications projects - Flat Stanley

speaking, debating, dramatizing
Digital drawing pads

Peer tutoring

Computer-aided design - for problem solving
3D and morphing software

Virtual worlds

Discussion lists and forums - discussing, debating
Strategy, logic, and critical thinking software
Multimedia authoring (HyperStudio)

Social networks

Map making tools (Tom Snyder's Mapmaker)


Video conferencing

Reading and interpreting web information

Scrapbooking, photo albums, and slide shows: oral history projects

Electronic reference tools - encyclopedia, dictionaries

Visual information materials: photographs, clipart, charts, graphs, tables

CD-ROM Interactive books on CD, e-books, and text-based software

Color-code projects and ideas

Crossword puzzle maker

Match pictures to vocabulary words

Websites with visual organizers or use color

Visual Artwork

Computer-generated Board Games


Digital Camera

Concept Mapping Tools and Diagrams

*Notice how many of the programs, software, and devices appeal to a wide variety of intelligences.

Multiple Intelligence Game Sites

Big Brain Academy for Wii and DS is an edutainment game that while is intended to focus on functions of the brain like identify, memorize, visualize, compute, and analyze. However, it's graphics, movement, music, puzzles etc. lend itself to a multiple intelligences approach. Here is a review on it. (The first 30 seconds is an opening for the reviewer.)

Walter McKenzie's One and Only Surfaquarium MI Immersion has activities for all the intelligences on the site MI Game

This Multiple Intelligence and Technology site has many game resources for all the intelligences: MI & Technology

Fun Brain Puzzle is another site dedicated to offering games that speak to the multiple intelligences: Funbrainpuzzle

Variety of Intelligences...More is More

While most of Multiple Intelligence Theory suggests that instruction should be paired with the students' most prominent intelligence for maximum learning, not all research indicates as such. Kelly's (2008) research indicates that greater learning is actually achieved when a variety of resources are used. Particularly greater learning gains were made when the use of resources were mismatched to the students preferred intelligence. Participants in the study ranged from 12 to 17 years of age and put into three groups. The first group had complete learner control. The second was adaptively guided to resources they prefer. The third group was adaptively guided to resources they did not prefer. Interestingly and unexpectedly the highest level of learning appeared in those students who had presentations that were mismatched in relation to their preferences. Results indicate that the mismatch may have encouraged students to investigate other sources which in turn increased learning gains.

One limitation of this study is that it only touched on four of the nine intelligences. It could be that the students in the study were not presented with their actual preferred intelligence. Thus they were forced to seek out other angles. However, this too indicates that the use of a variety of intelligences is more effective to student learning than on relying on a single method whether or not this matches the students' preferred intelligence.

Helpful Links


Journal Article Resources:
Gardner, H. (2004). Selected Papers and C.V.: The 25th anniversary of the publication of Howard Gardner’s Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
Retrieved April 23, 2011, from Howard Gardner:
Kelly, D. (2008). Adaptive versus learner control in a multiple intelligence learning environment. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia , 17 (3), 307-336.
McCahill, P. (1994). Beyond traditional boundaries: Coping with multiple intellingences in today's classrooms. National Educational Computing Conference, (pp.
245-250). Boston.
Osciak, S. Y., & Milheim, W. D. (2001). Multiple intelligences and the design of web-based instruction. International Journal of Instructional Media , 28 (4), 355-361.
Schrand, T. (208). Tapping into active intelligences with interactive multimedia: A low-threshold classroom approach. College Teaching , 56 (2), 78-84.
Tracey, M. W. (2009). Design and development research: A model validation case. Education Technology Research and Development , 57, 553-571.

Internet Resources:
IQ Test
Frames of Mind
Howard Gardner Site
Nine Types of Intelligence
Know Thyself
MI Criteria
Smartville Article
MI Checklist
MI Task Choices
HG on Educational System
HG on Digital Youth
Curriculum based on MI
Technology and multiple intelligences