Multiple Intelligences – Understanding Different Types of Learning Styles

Multiple Intelligences. No, I’m not talking about life-forms outside of Earth; I’m talking about the numerous ways that we, humans, learn new things by our different learning styles. I’ve only had 2 days of classes, and my Critical Thinking class feels more like a really fun Psychology class than anything else. I love psychology so, when it’s brought up in class, I get really excited.

We’re in our second week of school (out of 8 weeks) and we just read a chapter in the book that talks about Multiple Intelligences. There are 8 forms of dominant intelligences, 3 learning styles, and 8 personality styles – all which makes up the theory of Multiple Intelligences.

In 1983, Howard Gardner introduced the Multiple Intelligence Theory “as a model of intelligence that differentiates intelligence into various specific (primarily sensory) modalities, rather than seeing it as dominated by a single general ability.” (Wikipedia)

Here are the 8 Dominant Intelligences and what they each mean:

Visual/spatial– Picture smart- Thinks in pictures; Knows where things are in the house; loves to create images with pictures.

Verbal/Linguistic– Word smart- Communicates well through language; likes to write; good at spelling; great storyteller and loves to read.

Musical/Rhythm– Music smart- Loves to sing, hum and whistle; responds to music immediately; performs music

Logical/Mathematical– Number smart- Can easily conceptualize and reason; uses logic; good problem solving skills; loves math and science.

Body/Kinesthetic– Body smart- Learns through body sensations; moves around a lot; enjoys working with hands; some athletic ability

Interpersonal– People smart- Loves to communicate with people; great leadership skills; lots of friends; does extracurricular activities

Intrapersonal– Self smart- Deep awareness of own feelings; very reflective; requires time to be alone; no group activities

Naturalistic– Environment smart- Interest in environment and nature; recognizes plants, animals, rocks and cloud formations; may like camping, hiking and fishing.

There are various tests available to see what your Dominant Intelligence is, and how the others rank as well. My weakest happens to be verbal and then it’s Naturalistic; the others seem to be quite well-developed as I scored quite close in the rest of them despite having my strongest being Body/Kinesthetic.

The part that I found completely and truly fascinating was when it came to the 3 Learning Styles. Although the descriptions sound kind of like the 8 Dominant Intelligences, there is a difference.

So here are the 3 learning styles:

Visual Learning Style– Thinks in pictures; enjoys visual instructions and demonstrations; would rather read a text than listen to a lecture; avid note-taker; needs visual reference; likes charts and graphs.

Auditory Learning Style– Prefers verbal instructions; would rather listen than read; often tapes lectures; recites information out loud; enjoys talking and discussing issues and verbal stimuli; talks out problems.

Kinesthetic/Tactile Learning Style– Prefers a “hands-on” approach to learning; likes to take notes and uses a lot of scratch paper; learns best by “doing”; learns by moving; doesn’t concentrate well when sitting and reading.

The funny thing with the 3 Learning Styles for me is that I learn things by physically doing them, instead of watching someone else, but I also have a strong Visual Learning Style. I can’t sit in a class all day where the teacher is doing the lecture, I have to stay in my seat, and am expected to listen and understand what the teacher is saying. I have to move!

I can’t sit still for very long, and it can definitely be hard for me to concentrate when I’m just sitting down. I’m not exactly “easily distracted”, I just have to be doing something. So it’s quite interesting to see how these Learning Styles are incorporated into whom I am and how I learn, without me even realizing it.

I’m sure everyone knows about the 8 personality types (introvert, extrovert etc.). It’s also very important to see how your personality type either hinders or boosts your learning. It’s also important for teachers to know how each child/adult learns if they expect every child/adult in the classroom to really understand and comprehend what he/she is talking about in class.

Virtually my entire Critical Thinking class is all Body/Kinesthetic learners, so we learn best by “doing”, rather than just listening or watching. It’s important for my professor to know this so she knows how to reach each kid so they all understand.

It’s also good to know these things because it can and will affect your various jobs. One of my classmates said that he’s a good listener and likes to listen, but has a very difficult time following directions. It doesn’t mean, “Well then obviously you’re not a good listener”, because they might be the best listener you’ve ever met; just don’t give him/her directions on something.

They asked the Professor if she knew anything about it, and she was totally stumped – no one had asked that kind of question before. They ran their own test at home using a video game (that uses a lot of puzzles and requires you to follow directions before proceeding) to see why they have such a hard time following directions. They tried following the directions by repeating what they were told to do, in their head.

Ultimately they couldn’t figure out what to do and got frustrated. So they tried the same thing, but this time repeating the directions to them, but out loud. Surprisingly enough, they were able to do what the directions had said and were able to finally proceed. So they learned that they have an Auditory Learning Style.

I’m a have a very strong visual learning style. Like I said earlier, I can’t sit in class that does lectures and be expected to know what the teacher talked about before leaving the class. When I was in high school, that’s very much how high school was like. My math teacher would stand in front of the class, and lecture all day. Needless to say, I wasn’t doing very well in that class. I transferred to the local Alternative school so I could speed up my learning, and graduate high school before I was due to give birth to my daughter. The alternative school has teachers, just no lectures.

It was purely, “Here’s your packet of work, there’s your book. Do the work. If you can’t figure out from the book, THEN come ask me.” This was quite surprising to me. I felt confused at first, but yet so relieved that I wouldn’t have to waste my time listening to guy try to explain math to me in a way I wasn’t going to understand anyways. There was my packet, there was book, and there was my sweet grade. I passed the math class from the alternative school with a good grade (though I don’t remember what exactly it was). The math class I’m in right now (in college) is very much the same way. The teacher is there if you can’t figure things out on your own, but she doesn’t stand in front of class and explain math to me in a virtually foreign language.

Applying all of this to how I absorb information from work, as a new hire is quite funny. I worked as a waitress for over a year at a Mexican restaurant. My trainer handed me the menu and said, “Learn this.” Ok, I know I need to learn the menu if I’m going to be serving the food to people, but can you show me what this food is supposed to look like, too? I can’t learn my job if I’m just reading what I’m supposed to do. If it’s a serving job I’m doing, you better show me the food and tell me what’s in it, before you start quizzing me on the menu. I need to see the way it’s presented, and see what these weird ingredients are for me to know, “Oh, ok, that’s what that is!”

I always knew that was the case (I had to see, to know) but I didn’t realize how important it was in EVERYTHING I do; not just simply a waitressing job. If it’s a technical job, you better let me do it while your explaining it to me; don’t just say, “Ok watch what I’m doing,” and expect me to follow.

All of this stuff is/can be very valuable information to everyone. If you have young kids that are toddlers, watch them; see how they’re learning. If you know how your child learns, then it’ll be so much easier to communicate with them. When they did something wrong, do they need you to SHOW them what they did, or do they just need you to TELL them what they did? If they’re young enough that you can influence their learning styles, then that’s even better! Help them excel in all 3 learning styles so no matter HOW someone teaches new things to them, they’ll always be able to understand it.

Guest post written and submitted by Heather P. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow Heather P, and engage with her and fellow Hush Hush fans and Twilight book fans.

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