Student Achievement with MI Environments & Assessments

Instructor: Tawnya Eash

Tawnya has a master's degree in early childhood education and teaches all subjects at an elementary school.

Is there a link between teaching to the multiple intelligences and student achievement? Check out this lesson for explanations and examples of increasing student success using MI environments and assessments.

What are the Multiple Intelligences?

You have a variety of fifth-grade students in your classroom. Not only do they perform at various levels, but you notice that each child excels in a specific area. Jimmy likes to learn about math and science, so he typically performs well in those areas. Katie loves reading and working with others. She performs well with any type of collaborative work and in literature.

How do you increase Jimmy's achievement in literature and cooperative learning? How would you increase Katie's performance in math and science?

Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences suggests that all learners excel in a particular content area. There are eight defined intelligences that support the fact that students each have their own area of 'expertise,' so to speak. They may learn through all ways, but really show their colors in a specific area.

Overview of the Multiple Intelligences

A brief overview:

  • Interpersonal learners - great at working with others
  • Intrapersonal learners - work best by themselves
  • Visual/Spatial learners - do well creating and interpreting visual images
  • Bodily/Kinesthetic learners - enjoy physical activity and learn by actually doing something
  • Musical learners - great at using music and rhythm to express feelings
  • Logical/Mathematical learners - do well exploring, reasoning, solving scientific and mathematical problems
  • Linguistic learners - learn through language and use it to communicate their ideas
  • Naturalistic - in tune to nature, classifying, and figuring out patterns

Let's see how, when you use the multiple intelligences in your classroom and with assessments, you can increase student achievement.

Student Achievement

When each student is capable of using their strengths to learn new material, they're more successful. Students like Jimmy might work on improving linguistic skills while reading non-fiction texts describing animal adaptations. Katie might be able to enhance her mathematical skills while working in a small group to add and subtract fractions.

Research has shown that there's a link between integrating the multiple intelligences into the classroom and higher student achievement. Using the multiple intelligences helps students succeed in the following ways:

  1. Increased enjoyment and motivation results in better focus and retention.
  2. Students get to strengthen skills in all intelligence areas.
  3. Each student has a chance to excel in at least one area, enabling educators to meet the needs of all students.
  4. Specific content is learned in a variety of ways, which encourages repetition and a better chance of overall understanding.

Let's look at specific strategies and activities in a multiple intelligences environment.

Multiple Intelligences Environment

Creating a classroom environment that incorporates the multiple intelligences requires getting to know your students, careful planning, and use of appropriate resources.

In varying your instructional approaches, you'll be able to reach all of your learners. You can incorporate lessons that use direct teaching, indirect teaching, independent study, interactive instruction, and experiential instruction.Through careful planning, you can create meaningful, engaging lessons that allow each child to shine. Lessons that reach almost all of the intelligences, like the following example, are easy to plan.

  • You introduce inferences by modeling a short story. Students think independently, then discuss with partners how the character in the story feels. Next, you guide students through an inferencing PowerPoint. The stories allow for inferences on various topics: a child conducting a science experiment, a family preparing for severe weather, a student standing up to a bully, etc. Finally, students work independently on different inferencing task cards. When finished, they collaborate with a small group to classify their task cards into similar inferences (such as weather, feelings and places).

Another strategy to include the multiple intelligences into your daily activities is to create different stations. At the elementary level, during small group time in reading or mathematics, your students could work in stations such as:

  • Personal Work - work on individual projects or activities
  • Let's Work Together - use activities for working as a team
  • Music - create song or rhyme relating to specific content
  • Art - develop ways to demonstrate content through pictures or other designs
  • Get Moving - experiment, build, or create a physical activity (dramatize/dance)
  • Literacy - read, write, and/or talk about content
  • Math - use math games, math manipulatives, or other math activities
  • Science - work on experiments or other science activities
  • It's Natural - incorporate identifying patterns or relating to nature when applicable.

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