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Adult Multiple Intelligences

Research has shown that that instructional practices inspired by the Multiple Intelligences theory have resulted in high levels of authentic instruction and student engagement. Findings have also affirmed the value of teachers and students working closely to develop metacognitive skills in relation to their learning styles.


Mentor Teacher Group Guide: Adult Multiple Intelligences. Judy Hofer, NCSALL and New Mexico Coalition for Literacy, January 2004.
This guide provides detailed instructions for organizing a mentor teacher group to consider the implications of Multiple Intelligences Theory in instructional practice. A small group of practitioners meets with a mentor to learn about and discuss research on Adult Multiple Intelligences and to receive constructive feedback as the practitioners apply the research to practice. Practitioners meet four times as a group and participate in two individual classroom observations for a total of 20 hours of professional development.

Multiple Intelligences and Adult Literacy: A Sourcebook for Practitioners. (Link will open in a new window.)
Julie Viens and Silja Kallenbach, NY: Teachers College, Columbia University, 2004.
This sourcebook, developed specifically for practitioners, represents the culmination of the first study that applied Multiple Intelligences (MI) Theory to adult literacy. The study asked, “How can MI theory support instruction and assessment in adult basic education (ABE), adult secondary education (ASE), and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)?” The sourcebook introduces practitioners to MI theory and its major tenets. Then through teacher reflection and illustrations of actual classroom experiences, the guide addresses issues involved in applying MI to practice, such as how MI theory can be used to support student reflection and self-understanding, and how MI theory can be adapted for specific contexts and goals. It includes concrete examples of how teachers translated MI theory to their contexts and useful guidelines for planning MI-informed lessons. This book also details the study’s findings about students’ responses to MI practices. Questions for reflection and discussion guide readers to develop their understanding of MI theory and how it can be applied in adult literacy education, to develop an understanding of the promises and challenges of using MI theory for self-reflection in the classroom, to learn how to use MI theory to develop learning experiences that build on all intelligences, and to determine appropriate applications of MI theory in specific teaching and learning contexts.

Program Administrators' Sourcebook: A Resource on NCSALL's Research for Adult Education Administrators. Jackie Taylor, Cristine Smith, and Beth Bingman with Margaret Bott, Kim Gass, Bethany Lay, Douglas Ann Taylor, and Kristin Tiedeman, December 2005.
This sourcebook presents NCSALL's research findings in short sections related to key challenges that program administrators face in their work as managers of adult education programs. It also presents the implications of these research findings for program structure and services, as well as some strategies for implementing change based on these implications.

Seminar Guide: Adult Multiple Intelligences Theory. July 2006.
This 3-hour seminar introduces adult education practitioners to Multiple Intelligences (MI) theory and its use in adult education and literacy settings.

Seminar Guide: Adult Multiple Intelligences in Practice. July 2006.
In this 3˝-hour seminar, practitioners examine the experiences of practitioner researchers in using Multiple Intelligences (MI) theory. Research shows that instructional practices inspired by MI theory result in high levels of authentic instruction and student engagement.

Study Circle Guide: Adult Multiple Intelligences. A. Parrella and J. Hofer with S. Bupp, A. Finn-Miller, N. Graves, and P. Meador, January 2004.
The goal of this study circle is to improve practice as practitioners learn about and evaluate Multiple Intelligences (MI) research and use this in their work. Practitioners explore Howard Gardner’s theory of MI, review the eight intelligences, and identify the relationships among them. Participants reflect on their own intelligences, discuss approaches to MI-inspired instruction, identify the promises and challenges of building practice based on MI theory, analyze the common features of MI-inspired practice identified through teacher research projects, and plan how to apply MI theory to their own practice. This guide provides the necessary materials and clear instructions to plan and facilitate a three-session study circle (with an option for a fourth). Each session lasts three hours.

AMI Web Site (Link will open in a new window.)
This Web site provides information about the Adult Multiple Intelligences study and the teacher researchers who participated in the study. It includes details about Multiple Intelligences Theory, Multiple Intelligences and Adult Literacy: A Sourcebook for Practitioners, and other resources on adult multiple intelligences.



Multiple Intelligences in Practice: Teacher Research Reports from the Adult Multiple Intelligences Study. Edited by Julie Viens and Silja Kallenbach, NCSALL Occasional Paper, February 2001.
This document describes the Adult Multiple Intelligences (AMI) study, the first to apply Multiple Intelligences (MI) theory to adult literacy education. The study involves ten ESOL, ABE, and GED practitioners from across New England who participate in an eighteen month investigation of how MI theory supports instruction and assessment. Teachers participating in the project develop their research questions in relation to their specific context. Abstracts and the complete practitioner-research reports, which document the inquiry process, and findings are included. (See the annotations that follow.)

Open to Interpretation: Multiple Intelligences Theory in Adult Education—Findings from the Adult Multiple Intelligences Study. Silja Kallenbach and Julie Viens, NCSALL Report #21, May 2002.
This report details the findings of the Adult Multiple Intelligences (AMI) Study, the first systematic effort to investigate how Multiple Intelligences (MI) Theory supports assessment and instruction in ABE, ASE, and ESOL programs. Based on the work of Howard Gardner, MI Theory defines intelligence as “the biological potential to solve problems or make products that are valued in a culture” (Gardner, 1993, 2000). The report describes the theoretical background of the AMI Study, MI Theory and the adult literacy education context, and the teacher research process and its results. The document describes the data collection and analysis methods used to integrate two, connected qualitative research projects. The naturalistic approach supports analysis and comparison of applications of MI theory in various contexts. Findings suggest that MI-inspired instructional practices result in high levels of authentic instruction and student engagement. The study also affirms the value of teachers and students working closely to develop metacognitive skills in relation to learning styles. Implications for practice, professional development, assessment, program design, policy, and research are described. Abstracts of the class-based, teacher research projects are included.



“Adding a Dimension to Career Counseling.” Jean Mantzarus, Focus on Basics, Volume 3, Issue A, March 1999.
The author describes how she used MI-inspired activities in a career center to help clients identify potential careers. She found that these MI-related exercises enhanced the discovery process as students assessed their intelligences and possible career paths.

“Differentiated Instruction: Adjusting to the Needs of All Learners.” Mary Ann Corley, Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue C, March 2005.
This article defines differentiated instruction and its research base; describes ways in which teachers can differentiate content, process, and product; suggests instructional strategies; and outlines challenges in implementing differentiated instruction.

“Differentiating Instruction for a Multilevel Class.” Catherine Saldana, Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue C, March 2005.
Differentiated instruction workshops prompted this teacher to tailor instruction to her students’ interests, abilities, and learning modalities and move from whole group and individualized instruction to small group activities.

“Emerging Themes in Adult Multiple Intelligences.” Silja Kallenbach, Focus on Basics, Volume 3, Issue A, March 1999.
The author states that, while there is no one way to apply MI theory to teaching, some common instructional approaches emerge as the ten teacher researchers in the Adult Multiple Intelligences (AMI) Study investigate how MI theory can be applied to adult literacy education. The author argues that using an MI framework leads teachers to expand their instructional approaches, offer a variety of learning activities, and promote constructivist learning. She also determines that MI theory supports and validates multimodal teaching and that teachers learn more about students’ strengths and build on them in instruction. Kallenbach asserts that MI activities can engage students in material that they may have resisted and that students sometimes find it useful to reflect on their learning styles. She advises that developing metacognitive skills is a lengthy process and requires a sense of trust and community and a shift in the balance of power in the classroom. The author concludes that teachers learn more about students and increase their expectations of their students and of their own teaching when using MI-inspired instruction.

“'I Can’t Learn This!' An MI Route Around Resistance.” Wendy Quiñones and Betsy Cornwell, Focus on Basics, Volume 3, Issue A, March 1999.
The authors assert that students’ conflicting goals often interfere with learning and argue that MI-inspired lessons can help overcome resistance to learning skills that are within students’ reach. They propose that, when given the opportunity to learn and express knowledge through various intelligences, students feel less threatened and can find their own path for learning.

“MI, the GED, and Me.” Martha Jean, Focus on Basics, Volume 3, Issue A, March 1999.
The teacher researcher asks whether GED-based, MI-informed activities help students use their intelligences as learners and GED test-takers. This study focused on two classes, one in which the author implements MI-informed activities, and the second a traditional GED class. The author discovers the importance of allowing students to choose from a menu of activities and develops “Choose 3” lessons in which students select three activities. The author determines that, by providing these options, students were able to use their strongest intelligences and notes increased student involvement and improved attendance and retention for all students, including those with learning disabilities (LD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD).

“ Multiple Assessments for Multiple Intelligences.” Meg Costanzo and Diane Paxton, Focus on Basics, Volume 3, Issue A, March 1999.
The authors argue that MI theory offers an extended framework for assessing students for demonstrated mastery of material. Costanzo, who teaches beginning and intermediate ESOL learners, and Paxton, who works with ABE, GED, and adult diploma students, explain their differing views on the value of asking students to assess their own intelligences and speculate that students’ cultural and educational backgrounds may influence their responses to this activity. Both authors determine that, when using MI-inspired activities, classes become student-centered as students reflect on their skills and the skills of others. Meaningful assessment and project-based activities encourage students to assume control of the learning process and to value themselves and others in a nontraditional, teaching and learning community.

“Putting Theory into Practice.” Terri Coustan and Leslie Rocka, Focus on Basics, Volume 3, Issue A, March 1999.
This article describes how teachers in two distinct contexts, one comprised primarily of Hmong immigrants learning beginning English and the other consisting of mothers receiving public assistance and having low literacy skills, use MI theory to assess students and then to shape instruction by building on their students’ intelligences. The two authors observe improvements in learners’ skills when they offer a variety of activities within lessons, allowing students to express their strengths and to explore new avenues of learning.

“Separate Yet Happy.” Barbara Garner, Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue A, June 2004.
This account describes how a community-college-based GED program designs a separate class for learners ages 16–21 years. The class integrates activities that are based on Adult Multiple Intelligences theory with positive results.

“Understanding Multiple Intelligences: The Theory Behind the Practice.” Julie Viens, Focus on Basics, Volume 3, Issue A, March 1999.
The author explains that the basic principle of MI theory is that there are many ways to be smart and that those abilities are expressed in performances, products, and ideas. Intelligence, therefore, is defined as the ability to create or solve a problem or fashion a product that is valued in one or more community or cultural settings ( Gardner , 1993). Viens states that, because MI is a theory and not an instructional approach or set of strategies, teachers must interpret the theory and then reflect on the implications for assessment and instruction in their particular contexts.


Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL