Using Multiple Intelligences in Testing & Assessment

Information on using Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences (MI) in student assessments is found here. New teachers, who are just getting acquainted with MI will find this resource particularly valuable.
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Updated on: January 26, 2001
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Build Your Own Assessment Repertoire

To create successful assessment strategies, familiarize yourself with your students' individual learning styles. Knowing how your students learn best can help you choose approaches that will reach them most effectively. Here are some specific strategies that can make assessment productive and fun:

Linguistic

  • Ask students to write in a journal regularly.
  • Give oral exams and/or essay tests.
  • Emphasize creative writing – have students write poems, plays, and stories.
Logical/Mathematical

  • Assign science labs and experiments.
  • Have students complete logic problems and games.
Bodily/Kinesthetic

  • Challenge students to write and perform plays.
  • Have students build models or use other hands-on techniques to show what they learned.
Visual/Spatial

  • Invite students to create collages, murals, and posters.
  • Encourage students to illustrate their ideas using maps, charts, and graphs.
  • Help students use school equipment to make a video or slide show.
Interpersonal
  • Stage a classroom debate.
  • Have students work collaboratively to brainstorm and prepare a project.
Intrapersonal

  • Ask students to identify their own academic strengths and weaknesses.
  • Have students think of personal goals and give progress reports.
Musical

  • Challenge students to identify and explain patterns in music or poetry.
  • Ask students to write new lyrics to familiar melodies or to compose a new song.
Naturalist

  • Ask students to keep environmental journals and to share their observations.
  • Invite students to lead classmates on a nature walk to point out interesting plants and animals they found during independent study.

Note that many of these assessment strategies evaluate more than one kind of intelligence. You can use strategies like these and other combinations of projects, performances, and portfolios to assess students' progress.

There is no "right" way to use multiple intelligences in testing and assessment. You don't have to overhaul your whole curriculum. But you can make an effort to address each student's strengths and weaknesses by using creative alternatives to traditional testing in your classroom.

Articles and practical applications for Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences.

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