Agustina, M. Pd.

Widyaiswara Muda


Howard Gardner has proposed the Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory that can be adopted to promote students’ success in the classrooms. For years schools have focused merely on logical and linguistic intelligence, which was shown by the various uses of IQ tests. In fact, pedagogy is most successful when these learner differences are acknowledged, analyzed for particular groups of learners, and accommodated in teaching. This article exposes what MI approach is, why teachers should accommodate these eight intelligences among their students, and how this model is applied in the classrooms so that the teachers and students can get their maximum personal development.

Key Words: Multiple Intelligence (MI)


Teori Kecerdasan Majemuk yang dikembangkan oleh Howard Gardner bisa diadopsi oleh guru untuk meningkatkan keberhasilan siswa di kelas. Selama ini sekolah konvensional seringkali hanya berfokus pada kecerdasan logika dan linguistic (berbahasa), salah satunya dengan digunakannya tes-tes serupa test IQ dan sejenisnya untuk mengukur kecerdasan. Padahal pedagogis akan lebih berhasil saat perbedaan (kecerdasaan, gaya belajar, gaya berpikir dan sebagainya) dalam peserta didik diakui, dihargai dan diakomodir dalam pembelajaran. Artikel ini membahas apa yang dimaksud dengan pendekatan Kecerdasan Majemuk, mengapa para guru sebaiknya mengakomodir semua jenis kecerdasan ini dan bagaimana penerapannya di kelas hingga baik guru dan siswa dapat memaksimalkan pengembangan dirinya.

Kata Kunci: Kecerdasan Majemuk


Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory proposed by Howard Gardner has attracted much attention over the past 20 years. Instead of confirming that intelligence can be objectively measured and reduced to a single score, Gardner proposed the existence of at least eight basic intelligences namely; linguistic intelligence, logical intelligence, visual intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence, musical intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence and naturalistic intelligence.

As we have known that for years schools have focused on assessing intelligences mostly through reading and writing ability, which actually belonged to logical intelligence and linguistic intelligence. The various uses of IQ tests are also its proof. Thus, Gardner argues that students will be better served by a broader vision of education. As Campbell (1996) says, “Of the seven different ways we learn, schools focus on only two. Add the other five, and you increase the chances of success”.

MI theory can be described not only as a philosophy or an attitude toward learning but as possible techniques to be developed in the classroom as well. The teacher’s role in an MI classroom, for example, contrasts sharply with that of a teacher in a traditional classroom. In the traditional classroom, the teacher lectures while standing at the front of the classroom, writes on the board, questions students about the assigned readings or handouts, and waits as students finish written work. In comparison, in the MI classrooms, the teacher frequently swings method of presentation in creative ways. It also assists teachers expand their teaching repertoire to include a broader range of methods, materials, and techniques for reaching an ever-wider and more diverse range of learners. Thus, this article tries to expose how MI approach can be applied well in the classrooms.

  1. Discussion

Gardner as cited by Richards and Rodgers (2006) argues that all humans have the eight kinds of intelligences, but people differ in the strengths and combinations of intelligences. He believes that all of them can be enhanced through training and practice. Learners are viewed as possessing individual learning styles, preferences, or intelligences. Pedagogy is most successful when these learner differences are acknowledged, analyzed for particular groups of learners, and accommodated in teaching. Obviously, they said schools that use MI theory encourage learning that goes beyond traditional books, pens, and pencils. As a result of strengthening such differences, individuals are free to be intelligent in their own ways.

How to apply MI approach in the classrooms? Disney’s website as cited by Giles, Pitre and Womack (2003) suggests two approaches for implementing Multiple Intelligences theory in the classrooms. One is using a teacher-centered approach, in which the instructor incorporates materials, resources, and activities into the lesson that teach to the different intelligences. The other is a student-centered approach in which students actually create a variety of different materials that demonstrate their understanding of the subject matter. The student-centered approach allows students to actively use their varied forms of intelligence. In a teacher-centered lesson, the number of intelligences explored should be limited to two or three. To teach less than two is nearly impossible since the use of speech will always require the use of one’s Verbal/Linguistic intelligence. In a student-centered lesson, the instructor may incorporate aspects of project-based learning, collaborative learning, or other inquiry-based models. In such a case, activities involving all nine intelligences may be presented as options for the class, but each student participates in only one or two of the tasks. 

Table 1. Multiple Intelligences: Classroom Application (Table added by Brandy Bellamy and Camille Baker as cited in Giles, Pitre and Womack, 2003)

Teacher Centered
  • Present content verbally
  • Ask questions aloud and look for student feedback
  • Interviews
  • Student Presents Material
  • Students read content and prepare a presentation for his/her classmates
  • Students debate over an issue
  • Provide brain teasers or challenging questions to begin lessons.
  • Make logical connections between the subject matter and authentic situations to answer the question “why?”
  • Students categorize information in logical sequences for organization.
  • Students create graphs or charts to explain written info.
  • Students participate in web quests associated with the content
  • Use props during lecture
  • Provide tangible items pertaining to content for students to examine
  • Review using sports related examples (throw a ball to someone to answer a question)
  • Students use computers to research subject matter.
  • Students create props of their own explaining subject matter (shadow boxes, mobiles, etc…)
  • Students create review games.
Visual/Spatial When presenting the information, use visuals to explain content:PowerPoint Slides, Charts, Graphs, cartoons, videos, overheads, smart boards
  • Have students work individually or in groups to create visuals pertaining to the information:
  • Posters; timelines; models; power point slides; maps; illustrations, charts; concept mapping
  • Play music in the classroom during reflection periods
  • Show examples or create musical rhythms for students to remember things
  • Create a song or melody with the content embedded for memory
  • Use well known songs to memorize formulas, skills, or test content
  • Be aware of body language and facial expressions
  • Offer assistance whenever needed
  • Encourage classroom discussion
  • Encourage collaboration among peers
  • Group work strengthens interpersonal connections
  • Peer feedback and peer tutoring
  • Students present to the class
  • Encourage group editing
  • Encourage journaling as a positive outlet for expression
  • Introduce web logging (blogs)
  • Make individual questions welcome
  • Create a positive environment.
  • Journaling
  • Individual research on content
  • Students create personal portfolios of work
  • Take students outside to enjoy nature while in learning process (lecture)
  • Compare authentic subject matter to natural occurrences.
  • Relate subject matter to stages that occur in nature (plants, weather, etc)
  • Students organize thoughts using natural cycles
  • Students make relationships among content and the natural environment (how has nature had an impact?)
  • Students perform community service

Meanwhile, another different type of classrooms application was explained by Richards and Rodgers (2006). In some application, there are eight self-access activity corners, each corner built around one of the eight intelligences. Students work alone or in pairs on intelligence foci of their own choosing. This technique was also proposed by Campbell (1996). To implement Gardner’s theory in an educational setting, he organized the classroom into seven learning centers, each dedicated to one of the seven intelligences. The students spend approximately two-thirds of each school day moving through the centers – 15 to 20 minutes at each center. Curriculum is thematic, and the centers provide seven different ways for the students to learn the subject matter. Each day begins with a brief lecture and discussion explaining one aspect of the current theme. For example, during a unit on outer space, the morning’s lecture might focus on spiral galaxies. In a unit about the arts of Africa, one lecture might describe the Adinkra textile patterns of Ghana. After the morning lecture, a timer is set and students – in groups of three or four – start work at their centers, eventually rotating through all seven.

Students build models, dance, make collaborative decisions, create songs, solve deductive reasoning problems, read, write, and illustrate all in one school day. Some more specific examples of activities at each center follow:

  • In the Personal Work Center (Intrapersonal Intelligence), students explore the present area of study through research, reflection, or individual projects.
  • In the Working Together Center (Interpersonal Intelligence), they develop cooperative learning skills as they solve problems, answer questions, create learning games, brainstorm ideas and discuss that day’s topic collaboratively.
  • In the Music Center (Musical Intelligence), students compose and sing songs about the subject matter, make their own instruments, and learn in rhythmical ways.
  • In the Art Center (Spatial Intelligence), they explore a subject area using diverse art media, manipulables, puzzles, charts, and pictures.
  • In the Building Center (Kinesthetic Intelligence), they build models, dramatize events, and dance, all in ways that relate to the content of that day’s subject matter.
  • In the Reading Center (Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence), students read, write, and learn in many traditional modes. They analyze and organize information in written form.
  • In the Math & Science Center (Logical/ Mathematical Intelligence), they work with math games, manipulatives, mathematical concepts, science experiments, deductive reasoning, and problem solving.

Furthermore, Nicholson-Nelson as cited by Richards and Rodgers (2006) describes how MI can be used to individualize learning through project work. She lists five types of projects: 1. Multiple intelligence projects: These are based on one or more of the intelligences and are designed to stimulate particular intelligences. 2) Curriculum-based projects: These are based on curriculum content areas but are categorized according to the particular intelligences they make use of; 3) Thematic-based projects: These are based on a theme from the curriculum or classroom but are divided into different intelligences; 4) Resource-based projects: These are designed to provide students with opportunities to research a topic using multiple intelligences; 5) Student-choice projects: These are designed by students and draw on particular intelligences.


Multiple Intelligences with Corresponding Materials and Activities to Apply in the Classrooms


Interest Teaching Materials Teaching Activities
Linguistic reading, writing, telling stories, playing word games books, newspapers, journals, tapes and tape-recorder, paper, stories lectures, discussion, storytelling, debate, reading, writing, reports, presentation, journal writing, word games
Logical-Math experimenting, questioning, figuring out, logical puzzles, calculating materials to experiment with science materials, video-tapes showing scientific discovery, computer, software matching, gap-filling, data analysis, comparison & contrast, scrambles story, diagrams logical-sequential presentation, puzzles, computer games, statistical arguments, ordering, problem-solving, science video
Spatial designing, drawing, visualizing, doodling graphs, diagrams, mind maps, art, peripherals, LEGO, storyboards, VCR, movies, slides, puzzles, charts, illustrated books video show, illustrating concepts and things, reading maps and interpreting directions, imagination games, visual diagrams, cartoons, Ads designing
Kinesthetic dancing, running, jumping, building, touching, gesturing things to build, sports and physical games materials, tactile things, hands-on learning materials role play, drama, dancing, relaxation exercises, brain gym, craftwork, flashcards, acting out an event, cooperative or competitive games, investigations
Musical singing, whistling, humming, tapping feet and hands, listening song and music tapes, videos of concerts, musical instruments sing along, dubbing, background music, creating songs to summarize concepts or ideas, dictation of songs, make up story with songs, musical, anchor contest, composing
Interpersonal leading, organizing, relating, manipulating, mediating, partying materials for group games, surveys and polls, questionnaires, access to clubs and community mentors/apprenticeship hips resource group & circle work, pair work, brainstorming, peer teaching, questionnaires, surveys and polls, board games, interactive software programs, team problem solving, social gatherings, arrange party, English corner or club
Intrapersonal setting goals, meditating, dreaming, planning, reflecting quiet environment, self-paced projects, reflective materials, choices project work, independent study, individual instruction, writing, monitoring of own skills, researching and online activities, essay learning log & diaries, reflective learning activity, personal goal setting, pole-bridging activities
Naturalistic gardening, caring for earth, playing with pets, investigating nature, raising animals access to nature, opportunities for interacting with animals, tools for investigating nature, pictures and videos showing the nature outdoor learning, observation notes, classifying & categorizing activities, background music of sounds of nature, hands-on learning, picnic, taking nature walks or field trips, environmental protection activities

(adopted from Armstrong, 1994)


MI approach is becoming a promising and increasingly popular approach to characterize the uniqueness of learners and to develop instructions in response to this uniqueness. Teachers who use MI theory to inform their curriculum development find that they gain a deeper understanding of students’ learning preferences and a greater appreciation of their strengths. Students are likely to become more engaged in learning as they use learning modes that match their intelligence strengths. Students’ increased engagement and success in learning stimulates teachers to raise their expectations, initiating a powerful expectation-response cycle that can lead to greater achievement levels for all.  Therefore, integrating MI approach in the classrooms is worth experimenting to facilitate whole person development.



Armstrong, Thomas. 1994. Multiple Intelligences in the Classrooms. Virginia:


Campbell, Bruce. (1991). Multiple Intelligences in The Classroom.

Giles, E., Pitre, S., Womack, S. (2003). Multiple intelligences and Learning styles. Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology.

Richards, Jack C., and Rodgers, Theodore S. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching 2nd Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.