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Theory Of Multiple Intelligences And Sternbergs Triarchic Theory Education Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 5485 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The focus of the assignment will be on Gardners Theory of Multiple Intelligences and Sternbergs Triarchic Theory of Intelligences. The reason why I have chosen these two theories is because they are very similar in their description of human intelligence. I am planning to use them in my future teaching practice and I would like to make some comparisons as much as possible with each other and also to discuss the value of each theory for my teaching practice. So my plan in this assignment is to cover the aspects/dimensions which are what sorts of theories they are? Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences and Sternberg’s Traircgic Theory of Intelligence in contrast a unitary view of intelligence, what the intelligences are? How the intelligences can be assessed, and how the intelligences can help in teaching.

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1. Aspect: What sorts of theories Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences and Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence are?

The first main thing Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and Sternberg’s theory of intelligence both are about multiple intelligences. They have a wider and more holistic view of intelligence than the traditional unitary view of intelligence in the sense of there is a single factor of intelligence, g, which classifies intelligence as proposed by Spearman. Gardner sees that “people have a wide range of capacities” (Gardner, 1999, p. 31).

The traditional theories identified intelligence as a hereditary ability exists from birth and this ability does not change throughout life. The theory of multiple intelligences, by contrast, suggests that there are several different types of intelligences and human beings possess all intelligences, but each one has a unique collection or profile. In addition to humans can develop each intelligence and some of them may rapidly evolve one intelligence more than others.

The intelligence, according to traditional notion, is measured by tests, such as Stanford-Binet Intelligence Quotient. This test is a developed version of Binet Simon Scale. The other tests are Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), Woodcock Johnson Test of Cognitive Ability, Wechsler Preschool/Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI), Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale and Scholastic Aptitude Test.

However, on the other hand Gardner in his 1993 book Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice gives dissatisfaction the traditional view of intelligence and asserts that the human intelligence can not be described or measured. He states that he “believes that we should get away altogether from tests and correlations amongst tests and look instead at how peoples around the world develop skills important to their way of life” (Gardner, 1993, p. 7). Accordingly, the intelligence can increases and develops by training and learning. Even more, Gardner believes that intelligence is a pluralistic and each type is independent of other types, therefore can grow independently from other kinds.

In traditional practice of intelligence teachers give the same subject to everyone, whereas the teachers in multiple intelligence theory teach learners and make assessing in a different way taking into account their intellectual weaknesses and strengths. Gardner emphasizes in this regard defining intelligence as “to focus on those intellectual strengths that prove of some importance within a cultural context” (Gardner, 1983, p. 60).

The teachers develop new strategies allowing students to show multiple ways of absorbing their uniqueness, but in the concept of traditional view of intelligence the teachers just teach a subject.

1.1 Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Gardner defines intelligence as “an ability or set of abilities that permits an individual to solve problems or fashion products that are of consequence in a particular cultural setting” (Walters and Gardner, 1986, p. 165).

Gardner determines seven different intelligences as follows:

Linguistic/Verbal intelligence -“sensitivity to spoken and written language, and the ability to learn languages, and to use language to accomplish certain goals” (Gardner, 1999, p. 41). This intelligence includes writers.

Logical/Mathematical intelligence -“the ability to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically” (Gardner, 1999, p. 42). This intelligence includes scientists and engineers.

Musical intelligence -“skill in the performance, composition and appreciation of musical patterns” (Gardner, 1999, p.42). This intelligence includes musicians and singers.

Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence -“the potential of using one’s whole body or parts of the body (like the hand or mouth) to solve problems or fashion products” (Gardner, 1999, p.42). This intelligence includes athletes.

Visual/Spatial intelligence -“the ability to receive visual or spatial information, to transform and modify this information and to recreate visual images even without reference to an original physical stimulus” (Gardner, Kornhaber and Wake, 1996, p. 207). This intelligence includes architects.

Intrapersonal intelligence -“the ability to understand oneself, to have an effective working model of oneself – including one’s own desires, fears, and capacities – and to use such information effectively in regulating one’s own life” (Gardner, 1999, p. 43). This intelligence includes philosophers.

Interpersonal intelligence -“the ability to notice and make distinctions among other individuals and, in particular, among their moods, temperaments, motivations and intentions’ (Gardner, 1983, p. 240).

Gardner in his 1999 book Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century added the eighth intelligence to his list.

Naturalist intelligence -“expertise in recognition and classification of the numerous species – the flora and fauna -of his or her environment” (Gardner, 1999, p. 48). This Intelligence includes conservationists and farmers.

Existential intelligence: this intelligence interests in the other issues of life, such as the meaning of death and the final destiny of the material and spiritual world. It is reflected in philosophers and lawyers. Gardner did not include this intelligence in his list of intelligences as I know because some criteria did not apply on it, such as the potential for brain isolation by brain damage which means that person lives in isolation from others.

“… the monopoly of those who believe in a single general intelligence has come to an end” (Gardner, 1999, p. 203).

1.2 Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence.

Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence is complementary to Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. It shares with multiple intelligences theory in its critique of the traditional unitary view of intelligence. It is also a theory with multiple abilities which considers that individuals have a unique profile of intelligence. Both theories are critical of the one general intelligence that believes there is just one factor, g, of intelligence.

Sternberg in his book Beyond IQ: A Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence criticized through his contextual theory the narrow traditional trend of intelligence that limits intelligence in the academic activities that predict success in the academic achievement and not in the professional and social domains. He insisted on broadening the concept of intelligence to include a broad spectrum of daily individual’s activities. Sternberg reminds researchers that the meaning of intelligence word for specialists is not the same for ordinary people. While the two parties share considering intelligence is the ability on the academic distinction and solving problems, the ordinary people more interest for social ability, such as sensitivity for other needs and choosing the appropriate emotion for the situation.

Sternberg and Gardner gave a summary of the traditional notion of intelligence as follows: “general intelligence can be understood componentially as deriving in part from the execution of general components in information processing behavior” (Sternberg and Gardner, 1982, p. 251).

There is a general agreement on the line that there are various levels of abilities and individuals have different capacities of intelligence. That is, “individuals differ from one to another in their ability to understand complex ideas, to adapt effectively to the environment, to learn from experience, to engage in various forms of reasoning, to overcome obstacles by taking thought” (Neisser et al., 1996, p. 77).

However, although the fact that Sternberg’s triarchic theory is consistent with multiple intelligence theory in the multiplicity of intelligence or in other words, there are several types of intelligence, but it is disagree on how many different kinds of intelligence there are. Sternberg believes there are three abilities of intelligence, whereas Gardner suggests that there are seven or nine of components intelligences.

Both of Sternberg’s theory and Gardner’s theory take into account creative or musical intelligence, but Sternberg categorizes the other intelligences of Gardner’s theory into two various sorts of intelligence one of them is analytic and the other is practical.

Sternberg built his theory depending on three theories of intelligence preceded him with a little difference in the emphasis on some of the abilities and the extent to understanding it. These theories are Guilford’s theory which suggested that intelligence can be understood in three aspects; operations, context and products. After that Cattell’s theory that concluded to three types of abilities; general mental, special mental ability and the primary factors that form from culture and science. Sternberg also depended on what Renzulli said in his suggestion for three human aspects which are above average ability, creativity and task commitment.

Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence consists of three fundamental subtheories which are analytical (componential), practical (contextual) and creative (experiential). Sternberg considers these three abilities as a form of thinking.

Analytical thinking: it involves critical thinking and academic problem -solving skills and it is usually measured to any important extent by traditional methods of intelligence. Sternberg believes that analytical based on the joint work of metacomponents and finally the knowledge acquisition components which we use to win new knowledge. This analytical is used when we ask the learners to contras, comparison, analysis, criticism, judgment, and explanation.

Practical thinking: it is used when someone is asked to apply, and show how and when he uses and adapts to his environment. It is measured mental skills, attitudes and emotional factors that impact the measured intelligence.

Creative thinking: people who have this ability can find the solutions for problems and think effectively to new situation.

1.3 The Value for the Teaching.

In respect of the value of these ideas on my teaching practice, as teachers each of us can express him/herself in various ways and also our students do. Lessons that based on multiple intelligences introduce real education where pupils are more active and co-operated.

As a teacher, I personally suppose teaching based on MI theory and I see that teaching which depends on the old traditional notions of intelligence is considered an ineffective teaching because it ignores many things and just depends on two things, linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence, to judge on individuals as intelligent or not and in my own opinion this is unfair at all. So, as a teacher I consider that the ideas of Gardner and Sternberg are important for me.

My plan in classroom aims to make students understand Gardner’s theory and at the same time compare this theory with conventional notion of intelligence. I began my lesson by giving about five minutes to explain the conventional definition of intelligence and encourage students to answer some questions, such as what does it mean to be smart in this world?, and how to measure the intelligence of someone?

I held the class discussion about what student said and after that I introduce Gardner’s theory using classroom sheets. With my students we have read about the meaning of these intelligences, and then I asked students to identify which intelligence is valued by schools and is it ok for everyone to possess much intelligence?

I passed out papers of the classroom sheet: Sheets about genius people, such as Einstein and Thomas Edison and asked them to specify intelligence kind described by each individual and asked them about the value of those persons in the society? And how the intelligence of those people fit the conventional intelligence definition? I took few minutes to see responses of students emphasizing that Gardner’s intelligences do not match the conventional definition. Lastly, I asked students if they started to look at intelligence in another way.

I divided the class into groups and asked them to discuss the results of MI theory in schools and also to share some their core ideas. Through evaluation I found that most students participated in classroom debates through their classroom sheets and worked in active groups to improve ideas about how schools can be organized according to the concept of MI theory.

2. Aspect: What the intelligences are?

2.1 Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

This diagram created using Inspiration® by Inspiration Software, Inc. 

This theory has formed a new model and provided an excellent framework in activating human mental abilities. Gardner’s theory has exceeded the methodological problems that proposed by intelligence tests. These tests ignored cultural context multiplicity. Intelligence, according to Gardner, is a “bio-psychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture” (Gardner, 1999, p. 34).

Gardner in his book Frames of Mind suggested seven different intelligences and then later on he added two intelligences. These intelligences are:

Logical/Mathematical intelligence -this intelligence in its primary level is the individual’s ability to carry out counting, knowing numbers and linking numerical codes with its equivalence of objects. It appears in its complex level in the individual’s ability to carry out organized mathematical calculations and using it in solving problems. In the genius level, logical/mathematical intelligence is the ability to finding unknown quantities in mathematical operations and using metacognitive activities as well as logical thinking.

Linguistic intelligence -the ability to use words effectively, e.g. narrators, preachers, and politicians.

Bodily-Kinaesthetic intelligence -the individual’s ability to use his body to express his thoughts and feelings, such as actors, athletes and dancers. This intelligence includes specific physical skills, for example harmony, balance, dexterity, strength, flexibility, speed and individual’s ability to sense the dimensions of his body.

Musical intelligence -the ability to recognize melodies and musical forms and differentiation between them. This intelligence includes sensitivity to pitch, rhythm, and melody.

Visual/spatial intelligence -the ability to visual perception for place, such as hunters and guides.

Intrapersonal intelligence -the ability to self-knowledge. In this intelligence individuals have an accurate view of his strengths aspects and awareness of his internal mood and the ability to self-discipline and self-understanding.

Interpersonal intelligence -the ability to understand others’ mood and their intentions, motivations, feelings and discrimination among them. It includes sensitivity to facial expressions, voices, gestures and ability to distinguish between different kinds of temperament. It also includes the ability to distinguish between many types of social signals and responding appropriately to these signals in a particular way that helps to influence group of individuals to urge them to do certain work.

Naturalist intelligence -the ability to recognize the different characteristic of animals and plants species and also the ability to classify and identify shapes and structures within nature.

Existential intelligence -Gardner has reached to this intelligence as hypothesis still needs to scientific evidences particularly on the basis of its nervous system. This intelligence is determined by the man’s ability to try to answer the big questions related to human existence and the profound meaning of life, such as why do we live or die? Why there is evil?

Gardner pointed out to important points in his theory as following:

Each person has all eight intelligences.

Most people can develop each intelligence to appropriate level.

Intelligences work together with complex forms.

There are many ways to express each intelligence.

Appearance of some intelligences may be delayed.

Intelligence is more than measured by paper test.

2.2 Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence.

This theory was developed by Sternberg. It goes against psychometric method of intelligence. It is a “comprehensive theory, more encompassing … because it takes into account social and contextual factors apart from human abilities” (Li, 1996, p.37). Sternberg defined intelligence as “a mental activity directed toward purposive adaptation to, selection and shaping of, real-world environments relevant to one’s life” (Sternberg, 1985, p. 45). That is, the intelligence is how the person acts with environmental changes over his life period. Sternberg’s theory is subsumed of three subtheories which are used to clarify the internal mental world of learners and how they use intelligence to interact with their environment.

The three subtheories are componential, experiential, and contextual subtheory.

Componential Subtheory: This theory is defined information processing components which are acted the internal representation of expertise. It is also used to describe the internal mental events of learner (Fetsco and McClure, 2005).

Sternberg in his theory suggests that intelligence can be understood through its inclusion of three aspects and their relationship with external and internal world of individual and also through the experience that mediates the relationship between two these world.

Sternberg also sees that intelligence should be understood through its relationship within three interrelated sides which are the internal world of individual that includes mental construction and processes and the cognitive base. The second one is external world of individual that includes work and home environment. The third significant side is individual’s experience which includes novelty.

Sternberg has distinguished between three types of information processing components that he had mentioned it in his 1990 book Metaphors of Mind and according to him, these components are:

A. Metacomponents – are executive skills or higher mental processes used in executive strategy, observation, and evaluating individual’s performance for task. They are also used in solving problems and making decisions. They are similar to what Brown called metacognitive processes (Sternberg, 1990).

Metacognitive processes are also executive processes used by student when he plans, observes and assesses learning or performance. It is worth mentioning that metacognitive processes helps person on determining the range and way of his learning.

B. Performance components – are mental processes less than metacomponents. They are main processes used in carrying out different strategies to performance a certain task, such as perceiving problems, understanding relations between objects. Performance components carry out orders coming from metacomponents. There are three examples of this type of components; encoding components which are used to discover what is the meaning of each word, concluding the relationship between two similar symbols in some points and difference in other aspects by inference and the last one is applying the previous conclusion on a similar new case.

C. Knowledge acquisition components -are learning processes new information and storing it in memory. Virtuosos are skilled in using these components due to that they have ability to learn new information at a higher rate (Sternberg, 1997).

Sternberg believes that the most important knowledge acquisition components in intelligent performance are:

1. Selective encoding -the process of extraction and separation new relevant information from new information that is irrelevant.

2. Combination selective -is information gathering process that has been encoded optionally and this increases internal cohesion of this information.

3. Selective comparison -in this process the information that has been encoded is kinked with information already existing in memory to increase correlation between cognitive structures that has newly organized with previous cognitive structures (Sternberg, 1990).

Sternberg believes that the previous components are interactive that is, metacomponents activates performance components and knowledge acquisition components which provide the first component with feedback. When solving problems that require analysis, evaluation and comparison, the components in this case reflect analytical abilities. In other words, when individual faces problem, how can he change himself to adapt to environment or how can he change the environment to suit him (Sternberg and Grigorenko, 2002).

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Experiential subtheory: Sternberg believe that the best way to measure intelligence is task that include mental skills, such as novelty and automation, these skills are used with tasks which are new for learners. Individuals’ ability to automate certain skills and their ability on dealing with novelty are considered an effective approach to measure individuals’ abilities to apply their expertise (Sternberg and Davidson, 1986). In other words, this subtheory links between intelligence and experience. It indicates to that the standard of intelligence measure depends on one or both of the following skills:

Novelty -the ability to deal with new tasks and new situation requirements.

Automation -the ability to information processing spontaneously whether information was complex or simple. Intelligent individuals perform this processing well, while individuals who have less intelligence need to car in order to accomplish the same task.

Contextual subtheory: This theory reflects Sternberg’s belief that the main objective of intelligent behavior is to achieve practical aims (Sternberg, 1985, 1997). For doing that people use their information processing components to adapt to their environment requirements and modify or choose the environment (Fetsco and McClure, 2005). Sternberg believes that the implication of this subtheory in environmental intelligence can not fully understood outside socio-cultural context and may differs for the same person from one cultural to another. Person who has less intelligence in a particular environment may appear a higher intelligence in another one and vice versa (Sternberg, 1986).

2.3 The value for the Teaching.

My first try was to apply Gardner’s theory in classroom because I am really impressed by what Gardner introduced in the field of education, so I went to the Libyan school in Sheffield City and met with the director of the school and told him that I need to apply Gardner’s theory on students. The director liked the idea and showed his interest and said to me do what you think is right. I was very happy with his consent. I chose secondary class of ten students. In the first meeting with students they did not know anything about this theory, but after my explanation of this theory the things started to be clear to them.

I planned to take students outside to the Mosque in an attempt to make students recognize on naturalistic intelligence, but I was not allowed me to go with students alone, therefore went with us some teachers. In our trip we visited many places, such as post office and the University of Sheffield and we passed many shops and other buildings in the city center. I took opportunity to name these building in English to students. The students were very delighted to talk to me. This trip, in my own opinion, was the secret of my success. In class all students finished every task and I was surprised of the student’s interaction with me. In respect of verbal-linguistics/intrapersonal intelligence, I introduced a brief description of the trip after that asked students to give their ideas of what they saw. Although they found difficulty to express their opinions in English, but with some help they reached to describe buildings and social life in city center.

The visual-spatial/interpersonal intelligence was visible in which students made colored papers. They worked in groups and designed models of the Mosque and the road leading to it. They also drew other buildings and some parks in the city. I was surprised to see them putting some extra information, such as doors and windows of the buildings. After that I moved on musical intelligence with the help music teacher who introduced a short introduction of musical instruments. Students brought some boxes and cans, so they had to create instruments and one of students sang a song and the rest of students danced with him in Libyan style.

3. Aspect: How the intelligences can be assessed?

“Because a student does not perform well on a written or standardized test does not mean he or she lacks an understanding of certain concepts. Not all students know, understand, and learn in the same way. We must honor these differences if we are to gain an accurate picture of students’ learning and help them succeed in school. If we are genuinely concerned to reach all students and teach them things they need to succeed in the larger world, we must put an end to the assembly lime approach to assessment and testing” (Lazear, 1994, p. 8).

According to Gardner’s theory tests, such as the Wechsler Scales and Stanford-Binet measure just linguistic and logical intelligence and this is not considered sufficient in regard to intelligence. In Gardner’s view, assessment must go beyond these instruments to be useful. He suggests many improvements with regard to this matter. Gardner argues that assessment should be meaningful for both students and teachers. In other words, students must work on problems that control their interests. Additionally, students must be told about the objective of the task and encouragement to work in groups. Thus, the analysis goes beyond individual’s skills involving social context and providing useful feedback to them and the society. Assessment, according to Gardner, yields data around the ability of individual on the reverse proxy.

Gardner believes that intelligences are evaluated in a better way through contextual settings which based on what he called “intelligence-fair” instruments (Gardner, 1993, p. 176). In contrast paper and pencil tests that biases to logical and linguistic skills. Consequently, Gardner strongly declares that we must avoid to measure intelligence only through logical or linguistic skills, but at the same time he admits these methods of assessments are not easy to implement.

Gardner asserts two points about assessment; the first is that intelligence’s assessment must include many measures. Secondly, assessments must take individual differences into account. Finally, Gardner is in favor of goals that help students rather than classifying them. Gardner realized that findings multiple intelligences kinds is difficult, so he put tips as substitutes to unite testing; confirm assessment more than testing, find a definition of assessment as natural and happening on constant schedule, using reverse ways to measure intelligence.

The main target of Gardner in producing his theory was to expand psychological notions of intelligence. However, it was accepted by educators, but it faced opposition from both psychological researchers and theorists. Whole schools and classrooms were reorganized in order to integrate this theory into curricula. Gardner attributes the success of his theory to its general view and interpretation of intelligence. He declares that his theory will allow teachers to take a look carefully of children and to apply new methods to teaching.

Gardner has developed his ideas in his book Frames of Mind through Project Zero that acts on performance’s design depends on assessment, education for the purpose of comprehension and the application of multiple intelligences to accomplish self-curriculum and assessment. He said that his theory could not be always applied in classrooms. In his 1991 book The Unschooled Mind Gardner demonstrates that he “have posited that all human beings are capable of at least seven different ways of knowing the world — ways that I have elsewhere labeled the seven human intelligences. According to this analysis, we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of others individuals, and an understanding of ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences — the so-called profile of intelligence — and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains” (Gardner, 1991, p. 12).

Teachers must know that every classroom contains many students who are different culturally and socially and every student has various interests, weaknesses and strengths. Thus, teachers should be aware that each of them has his own individual intelligence profile. Accordingly, it can be said that these elements have an impact on the educational process in classroom.

Teachers in conventional classroom deal with their students on the basis that they are equal. Teachers give their students the same exercises and students’ answers must be in the same level with focus on the linguistic and logical/mathematical use. The academic approaches in learning depend mainly on tests that assess students, whereby student who shows a higher skill in memorization obtains the highest scores. Gardner states “… some acknowledgement that people do learn, represent and utilize knowledge in many different ways is important to my argument … these differences challenge an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way and that uniform, universal measure suffices to test student language. … I argue that a contrasting set of assumptions is more likely to be educationally effective students learn in ways that are identifiably distinctive. The broad spectrum of students — and perhaps the society as a whole — would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a number of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means.” (ibid, p. 12-13).

Sternberg has not written so much about assessing the three abilities. He actually developed his own triarchic intelligences test, but it is not really school use. In other words, he does not write very much about how to assess the intelligences, but he does write quite a lot about assessing through the intelligences.

Through the experience of Sternberg in the field of intelligence testing in primary schools made him create his own intellige


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