One of the most serious criticisms of the theory of a single general intelligence is that people may be stronger in certain areas such as verbal skills, logical aptitude or spatial visualisation than in others. Dr. Richard Feynmann and Albert Einstein are examples of two successful geniuses who were extremely strong mathematically while being relatively weak verbally.
There are also well documented cases of people who may otherwise be regarded as generally retarded, who possess phenomenal skills in one particular field, for example: art, music, and mathematics. And then there are critics who point out that IQ tests don't measure social skills or wisdom or the type of physical intelligence demonstrated by athletes. It's people like this who provide us with strong evidence for a multiplicity view of intelligence.
Meet Robert, he performed poorly on IQ tests in elementary school however when his fourth grade teacher recognised his potential everything changed. Robert went on to experience considerable academic and professional success. Amongst other things he graduated with distinction from Yale University, received an Award for Excellence from the Mensa Education and Research Foundation and served as the President of the American Psychological Association.
The boy who didn't rate on IQ tests grew up to be Robert J Sternberg, Professor of Psychology and Education at Yale University. He knows a thing or two about intelligence and in 1996 he introduced the world to the Triarchic Theory of (Successful) Intelligence. Sternberg argues that traditional measures of intelligence such as IQ tests capture only a part of what it means to be intelligent.
"IQ problems tend to be "clearly defined, come with all the information needed to solve them, have only a single right answer, which can be reached by only a single method, [and are] disembodied from ordinary experience . . . Practical problems, in contrast, tend to require problem recognition and formulation . . . require information seeking, have various acceptable solutions, be embedded in and require prior everyday experience, and require motivation and personal involvement."
Sternberg believes more than mere analytical ability, humans need creative and practical abilities to succeed in life.
"I define [intelligence] as your skill in achieving whatever it is you want to attain in your life within your sociocultural context by capitalising on your strengths and compensating for, or correcting, your weaknesses"
Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Intelligence or 'successful intelligence' (and sometimes referred to as Practical Intelligence) includes three factors:
1. Analytical Intelligence
This component refers to problem-solving abilities. It enables an individual to evaluate, analyse, compare and contrast information.
2. Creative Intelligence
This aspect of intelligence involves the ability to deal with new situations using past experiences and current skills. It helps us to generate invention, discovery, and other creative endeavours.
3. Practical Intelligence
This element refers to the ability to adapt to a changing environment. Practical abilities tie everything together by allowing individuals to apply what they have learned in the appropriate setting.
To be successful in life an individual must make the best use of his or her analytical, creative and practical strengths, while at the same time compensating for weaknesses in any of these areas. This might involve working on improving weak areas to become better adapted to the needs of a particular environment, or choosing to work in an environment that values the individual's particular strengths.
A central feature of the theory of successful intelligence therefore is adaptability - both within the individual and within the individual's social and cultural context.
'Well, first of all, we did lots of studies where we show practical intelligence doesn't correlate with G. We have probably two dozen studies that practical intelligence better predicts job success than IQ.' Robert Sternberg
There are critics of the triarchic theory who argue that Sternberg's test is reliable but not a valid measure of success and that that practical intelligence is little more than job knowledge and can be explained better by traditional definitions of intelligence
Sternberg, Robert J. "Toward a triarchic theory of human intelligence." Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 1984. (Nov. 19, 2010)
Plucker, J. A. (Ed.). (2003). Human intelligence: Historical influences, current controversies, teaching resources
Taub G. E., Hayes B. G., Cunningham W. R., & Sivo S. A (2001) Relative roles of cognitive ability and practical intelligence in the prediction of success. Psychological Reports 88,
Herrnstein, R. J., & Murray, C. (1994). The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life. New York: Free Press.
Jensen, A. R. (1993). Test validity: g versus "tacit knowledge". Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2(1), 9-10.
Standard IQ test measure an individual’s ability with linguistic and logical mathematical challenges as well as some visual and spatial tasks. However, Professor Howard Gardner believes that we have a repertoire of skills for solving different kinds of problems therefore it's not “how smart you are but how you are smart".
Gardner, a psychologist and professor of neuroscience from Harvard University, developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) in 1983. According to Gardner, intelligence is much more than IQ because a high IQ in the absence of productivity does not equate to intelligence. He believes that standardised intelligence tests (like the Wechsler scales and the Stanford-Binet) only measure linguistic and logical/mathematical intelligences,which is insufficient.
"The tasks featured in the IQ test are decidedly microscopic, are often unrelated to one another, and . . . are remote, in many cases, from everyday life. They rely heavily upon language and upon a person's skill in defining words, in knowing facts about the world, in finding connections (and differences) among verbal concepts . . Moreover, the intelligence test reveals little about an individual's potential for further growth."
Consequently, instead of intelligence being a single entity described with an IQ score, Gardner views it as many things and so he endeavoured to define intelligence in a much broader way. He began by determining that human intelligence includes these three basic characteristics:
He expanded on this in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) where he proposed that human beings have eight different ways of interacting with the world. Each person has a unique combination, or profile. He expands on this in more detail in the following video.
Verbal-linguistic learners have highly developed auditory skills, enjoy reading and writing, like to play word games, and have a good memory for names, dates, and places. They like to tell stories, and get their point across. You learn best by saying and hearing words. Poets, writers, and people who speak a great deal in their jobs (like teachers) probably have a high degree of verbal-linguistic intelligence.
Logical Mathematical Intelligence
Logical-mathematical intelligence is often linked with the term "scientific thinking." Logical-mathematical people like to explore patterns and relationships, like to experiment with things you don't understand, ask questions, and enjoy well-ordered tasks. They like to work with numbers and relish opportunities to solve problems via logical reasoning. They learn best by classifying information, using abstract thought, and looking for common basic principles and patterns. Many scientists have a high degree of logical-mathematical intelligence.
Visual Spatial Intelligence
Spatial people work well maps, charts, diagrams, and visual arts in general. They are able to visualise clear mental images. They like to design and create things. They learn best by looking at pictures and watching videos. Sculptors, painters, architects, surgeons, and engineers are a few professions that require people with well-developed spatial abilities.
Musical learners are sensitive to the sounds in their environment, including the inflections in the human voice.They enjoy music, and may listen to music when they study or read. They are skilled at pitch and rhythm. Learning through melody and music works well for people with high musical-rhythmic intelligence. Singers, conductors, and composers obviously have a high musical-rhythmic intelligence. Anyone who enjoys, understands, and uses various elements of music probably has a high degree of musical intelligence
Bodily Kinaesthetic Intelligence.
Kinaesthetic learners use bodily sensations to gather information. They have good balance and coordination and are good with their hands. Learning activities that provide physical activities and hands-on learning experiences work well for them. People with highly developed kinaesthetic abilities include carpenters, mechanics, dancers, gymnasts, swimmers, and jugglers.
Interpersonal Social Intelligence.
Interpersonal learners are "people-persons." They enjoy being around people, like talking to people, have many friends, and engage in social activities. They can develop genuine empathy for the feelings of others. They learn best by relating, sharing, and participating in cooperative group environments. The best salespeople, consultants, community organisers, counsellors, and teachers have a high interpersonal intelligence.
Intrapersonal learners are aware of their own strengths, weaknesses, and feelings. They are aware of self, being a creative and independent, and reflective thinker. They usually possess independence, self-confidence, determination, and high motivation. They may respond with strong opinions when controversial topics are discussed. They learn best by engaging in independent study projects rather than working on group projects. Pacing their own instruction is important to them. Entrepreneurs, philosophers, and psychologists are a few professions where strong intrapersonal skills are a benefit.
Since Gardner’s original listing of the intelligences in 1983, there has been a great deal of discussion as to other possible candidates for inclusion (or exclusion). Subsequent research and reflection by Gardner and his colleagues identified three additional possibilities:
Naturalistic Intelligence (1995)
Naturalistic learners are in touch with nature - the outdoors in terms of geography, animals, conservation, etc. They sense patterns and are good a categorisation. They are also good planners and organisers of living areas. Naturalistic learners learn best studying natural phenomenon in natural settings, learning about how things work. They may express interest in biology, zoology, botany, geology, meteorology, paleontology, or astronomy - fields directly connected to some aspect of nature.
Existential Intelligence (1999)
Gardner describes this as the ability and proclivity to pose (and ponder) questions about love, life, death, and ultimate realities.
Pedagogical intelligence (2016)
During an interview with BigThink (January 2016 - see video) Gardner proposed a teaching-pedagogical intelligence, "which allows us to be able to teach successfully to other people"
The fundamental criticism of MI theory is the belief that each of the multiple intelligences is a cognitive style and that Gardner's method of describing the nature of each intelligence with terms such as abilities, sensitivities, skills and abilities is evidence that the "theory" is really a matter of semantics rather than new thinking on multiple constructs of intelligence. (Morgan, 1996).
Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple intelligences: The theory in practice. New York: Basic Books.
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Morgan, H. (1996). An analysis of Gardner's theory of multiple intelligence. Roeper Review 18, 263-270.
Plucker, J. A. (Ed.). (2003). Human intelligence: Historical influences, current controversies, teaching resource
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This is an online interactive worksheet which produces a Multiple Intelligences wheel based upon Gardner's eight multiple intelligences. When you have finished you can print the intelligences wheel and the unique number on the sheet will allow you to re-visit your wheel at any time. Time approx 15 minutes.
This alternative quiz of 60 questions is based on Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences will help you to discover your unique preferences and style of thinking Contains 60 questions Time approx 10 minutes
VAK (or VARK or VACT) learning styles models offer relatively simple and accessible methods to understand and explain people's preferred ways to learn and develop. The VARK model was developed by Neil Fleming, a New Zealander, when working with students and teachers at Lincoln University.
VARK isn't technically a learning style as a learning style has 18+ dimensions (preferences for temperature, light, food intake, biorhythms, working with others, deep and surface approaches). VARK is about one preference - your preference for taking in, and putting out information in a learning context. Although it is a part of learning style Fleming considered it an important part because people can do something about it. Some other dimensions are not open to change.