This qualitative study was based on Howard Gardner's theory of
Multiple Intelligences (1983), and the assumption that students are intelligent in different ways from each other and a multiplicity of ways within themselves. The study was undertaken with the goal of discovering ways to reach and develop students' intelligences, and to answer the questions: 1) What will happen when students are taught the theory and apply it to themselves and each other?; and 2) What will happen when students are given opportunities to choose activities based on all the intelligence areas during a daily choice period and to choose
their own, differing modes for research projects? The study took place at Greenhill Elementary School in Newberry, Oregon (all place names are fictional), in my classes of fourth and fifth·graders. Information was gathered through observations, interview notes and student work samples gathered from my fourth grade classes of '93-'94 and '94-'95, and from my multi age fourth and fifth grade classes of '95-'96 and '96-'97. Written surveys and questionnaires are based only on the '96-'97 school year. One of those questionnaires was completed by students from two other 4/5 classes as well as my own. All individual names used in the study are pseudonyms. My research indicated a strongly positive response from students, both to learning and thinking about the theory, and to having the opportunity for choices. Student attitudes toward themselves and others appeared to be significantly, and positively, affected by learning about and accepting the multiple intelligence theory. Students showed an overwhelming appreciation of Learner's Choice. They did significant learning during this period of the day, and were highly engaged and involved. The activity provided excellent
information to me as a teacher regarding student's strengths,weaknesses and needs. It also provided me with opportunities for interacting with individual students, and with student-based starts for large group or whole class activities.
All students indicated an appreciation of doing projects with this multiple intelligence format: they chose their own topics, modes of researching and presenting information, and timelines. Students' learning was strongly apparent in the processes they utilized, the products they created, and the presentation of their projects to the class. Students also expressed enjoyment of the variety of each others' projects.
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