According to Howard Gardner, all humans possess varying degrees of these intelligences that are based on genetics and an individual’s own experiences. His research was to have a strong influence within the educational community as educators began to link a person’s “intellectual profile” with the need to develop more effective instructional strategies to meet the needs of diverse learners.

The theory of multiple intelligences has a profound impact on differentiated instruction for a number of reasons. First, it supports the notion that all students can learn, though not in the same way. As long as instruction is delivered in a way that plays to a student’s innate strengths, abilities, and interests, that student will more likely be engaged in his or her learning process. Second, at a time when the numbers of non-English speaking students and those with learning and behavioral disabilities increase in our classrooms, differentiated instruction provides educators with a framework that helps all students succeed.

Gardner developed his theory of multiple intelligences in 1983. He contended that the traditional idea of what is considered "intelligent" based on IQ tests was far too limited. Instead, he believed that individual intelligence was based on a more broad spectrum. In his book,

According to this theory, "we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences - the so-called profile of intelligences -and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains."

  • visual/spatial- visually, or picture smart; able to think in pictures
  • kinesthetic/body- physically smart; uses the body to express oneself, whether through sports or acting
  • logical/mathematic- strength lies in being able to solve mathematic or complex logic problems
  • interpersonal- has the ability to understand other people's emotions, desires, motivations
  • intrapersonal- has strong self-awareness, emotions, desires, and motivations
  • musical- strengths lie in creating and understanding music
  • linguistic- verbally strong, understands through words
  • naturalist- shows a strong awareness of nature and the environment; able to classify and see patterns in nature easily

Additional Resources:
Differentiating Instruction Through Technology
Edutopia: Big Thinkers: Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences
How to Address Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom
Concept to Classroom: Tapping into Multiple Intelligences
Teacher Tap: Technology and Multiple Intelligences
The Upside Down Schoolroom: Learning Styles
Using Technology to Differentiate Instruction

Technology and Differentiated Instruction