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Traditional vs. Multiple Intelligences Assessments

Instructor: Jaclyn Scotto

Jaclyn is a high school English teacher and college professor. She has a doctorate in Education.

It is important to keep in mind that according to the multiple intelligences theory, students process in different ways and should be assessed as such. Read on to learn about the difference between traditional and multiple intelligences assessments.

Traditional versus Multiple Intelligences Assessments

Think about your time in elementary and secondary school. Most likely, the majority of the assessments you took fell under the category of traditional assessments. Traditional assessments usually consist of multiple choice, matching, and fill in the blank questions, and are taken with pencil and paper. A major issue with solely using these types of assessments is that, as a teacher, you are taking a one-size-fits-all approach. All students are required to take the traditional assessment, regardless of individual needs or learning style. This can set students up for failure.

Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences suggests that students have different strengths and weaknesses based on several areas: verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, musical, naturalistic, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. There are many quizzes available for free online that you can use with your students in order to determine their multiple intelligence areas of strength. Multiple intelligences assessments are tailored to meet individual learners' needs based on their strengths. This means that the teacher provides assessment options for students based on their learning styles.

Teaching Scenario

Ms. Stevens just finished teaching Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to her ninth grade English class. She wants to give them a final assessment. Instead of giving a traditional final test or exam, she decides to create multiple assessments that speak to the different areas of multiple intelligences. First, she has each student take a multiple intelligences inventory to determine their areas of strength.

Multiple Intelligences Areas

1. Students who show strength verbal-linguistic intelligence perform best on assessments that involve words and language skills, such as writing or speaking.

2. Logical-mathematical students do well with problem-solving and dealing with the abstract.

3. Students with strong visual-spatial intelligence perform well on assessments that involve drawing or making charts/graphs.

4. Musical intelligence students are able to focus on sound and verse, and identifying patterns.

5. Students who exhibit naturalistic intelligence are fascinated with the outside world and their surroundings.

6. Bodily-kinesthetic students are very hands-on and perform well with assessments that require the body and movement.

7. Students who show strength in the area of interpersonal intelligence do well when working collaboratively.

8. Intrapersonal students perform best when working individually.

Teaching Scenario Continued

Ms. Stevens offers multiple assessment options for her Romeo and Juliet final assessment and asks students to pick one assessment that speaks to their strengths. Here are the choices:

1. Verbal-Linguistic Option: Write a compare and contrast essay discussing two characters from the play.

2. Logical-Mathematical Option: Pretend you are a mediator between the Capulets and the Montagues. Come up with some ways to help the two families problem-solve and resolve their issues.

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