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Multiple intelligences in the classroom: How can they be encouraged?

22 May 1997


This qualitative inquiry is characterized by field observations in the natural setting of an elementary school. The observations took place in a fourth grade classroom. The purpose of the study was to discover the means by which multiple intelligences, as described by Howard Gardner, were addressed within the context of the classroom curriculum.

Specifically, I attempted to answer three questions through observations of the teacher and students, student work, surveys, interviews. Questions answered in this study were: In what ways are students encouraged to make use of multiple intelligences in the classroom? How is instruction implemented to address the students' individual strengths' and weaknesses with regard to multiple intelligences? Does a performance-based instructional approach foster the use of multiple intelligences on the part of the students?

Findings indicated that a performance-based approach to instruction and assessment allows students to make use of a diversity of intelligences. It also appeared that the teacher's bias in the areas of Interpersonal and Intrapersonal intelligences facilitated the students' ability to use a variety of intelligences as they successfully completed projects within cooperative groups and regularly practiced metacognition.

There are also implications in this research that modeling interpersonal and intrapersonal skills has an effect on how students view and make use of their own abilities, and that these particular intelligences have bearing on the success of the other five. Further research is suggested to determine if, in fact, this holds true.


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