In today’s society not everyone has heard of the theory of multiple intelligences however most people have heard of learning styles. Even in the education field, educators may not be able to correctly define both. Are multiple intelligences and learning styles two different names of the same thing? This paper will discuss their differences and similarities. According to Dunn, Denig, and Lovelace (2001) “Multiple Intelligences addresses what is taught, while learning style addresses how it is taught, and in what context” (p. 11).Learning style research has evidenced that any content can be mastered when taught through students' strengths. The Oxford dictionary defines Intelligence as the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. The word intelligence is derived from the Latin verb intelligere meaning to comprehend or perceive. The word intelligence was first used in the 14th century. Early beliefs in intelligence stated that intelligence could be tested with a series of questions and the higher a person scored the more intelligent that person was believed to be.
The first intelligence test used was developed by psychologist Alfred Binet in 1904 (Wade & Tarvis, 2012). The first intelligence tests used were used for the purpose of identifying slow children in school. Binet’s intelligence test tested the mental age of children. In 1905 Binet and his colleague Theordore Simon developed a test that measured memory, vocabulary and perceptual discrimination.
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Later a scoring system was developed to determine the intelligence quotient based on mental age and chronological age. The early intelligence quotient test did have some flaws and the scoring system did not work well for adults so today’s intelligence quotient tests are scored differently than the beginning of the intelligence quotient tests. Multiple intelligences is a theory developed by Howard Gardner in 1983 that shows that mathematics and language were not the only way to test intelligence.
Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory rejected the traditional and long-held view that aptitude consists solely of the ability to reason and understand complex ideas (Edutopia Staff, 2009). Gardner based his theory on previous physiological studies and had no empirical research to support his theory. Even without research to support the theory, his theory still has popular support. Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences states that there are at least nine different kinds of intelligences.
These are the nine different kinds of intelligences, Linguistic: talent for reading, poetry and all things literary and linguistic; Logical-mathematical: talent for math and science; Spatial/visual: talent for images, drawings, construction games and tactile puzzles; Kinesthetic: talent for using a person’s whole body or parts of the body, activities that involve touch and movement; Interpersonal: talent for working with others; Intrapersonal: talent for understanding oneself; Naturalistic: talent for the natural world, plants, animals, and rocks; and Existential: talent for understanding philosophically and theoretically.
Learning styles are the preferred style of learning that a person believes works the best for that person to gain knowledge based on their strengths, weaknesses and preferences. Learning styles are sometimes called learning preferences. “So, a learning style is a preferred way of learning and studying; for example, using pictures instead of text; working in groups as opposed to working alone; or learning in a structured rather than an unstructured manner” (Pritchard, 2009, p. 41). There are three learning style: Auditory: prefer to learn by hearing; Visual: prefer to learn by seeing; and Kinesthetic: prefer to learn by doing.
According to Dunn, Denig, and Lovelace (2001) learners are influenced by twenty one elements although not all learners are affected by all 21, most are affected by six to fourteen elements. These twenty one elements that affect learners are classified into five different variables: Psychological: perceptual, intake, time and mobility; Environmental: sound, light, temperature and design; Emotional: motivation, persistence, responsibility and structure; Sociological: self, pair, peers, team, adult and varied and Physiological: global/analytic, hemisphericity, and impulsive/reflective.
By identifying each learners learning style teachers and learners can capitalize on the learner’s strengths and weaknesses. Most learners have a primary learning style however it may not be the only learning style that learner has. Some learners have a secondary learning style which can be used to reinforce initial learning. Pritchard (2009) found there is a possible drawback to helping children to identify their particular learning style: if a child is given a particular learning style
label, it is possible that they will center their learning on this one approach to learning and even refuse to work in other modes. Many people believe that Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles are the same thing just worded differently. The main difference between multiple intelligences and learning styles is multiple intelligences addresses what is learned and learning styles address how it is learned. Multiple intelligences and learning styles are similar in that both are that both are individualized to each learner.
It is important to understand the differences and similarities of multiple intelligences and learning styles so that each person can understand what works best for them and how they learn. The process by which people learn is different from person to person. This paper was used to highlight general intelligence, the types of multiple intelligences and learning styles. Multiple intelligences and learning styles vary greatly from person to person. Each person should figure out how they learn for their best opportunity for effective and lasting learning. A one size fits all approach to learning will never work for all learners.
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