Give me an essay, a document to edit, or a LOL wedding speech to write and I will not disappoint you. Ask me to calculate the circumference, volume or whatever of that thingy there, and I’ll change the subject (“Speaking of circumference, did you see that goal last night?”) Just yesterday I was trying to explain to my boss how much I suck at math:
“You know what I hate the most? Those thingies…you know…with the numerator and the denominator? And the line in the middle…?”
*sheepish giggle* “Ya those. I hate those.”
*Trying to stifle a laugh*
Math aside however, I’m pretty good at debating philosophical stuff, good with animals, and not too too shabby with logic puzzles.
And that’s the point: Intelligence is multifaceted. Traditional definitions of intelligence can be limiting in terms of explaining cognitive ability. That’s where Howard Gardner, pioneer of the theory of multiple intelligences, comes in. He took a bold step when he broke away from classical views of IQ. “I say, pay one’s respect to school and to IQ tests,” he concluded, “but do not let them dictate one’s judgment about an individual’s worth or potential. In the end, what is important is an individual’s actual achievements in the realms of work and personal life.” Gardner believed that each individual has the potential to manifest varying levels of different intelligences, if the time and effort is taken to develop them – and our latest research shows that it may well be worth the endeavor.
Analyzing data from our Multiple Intelligences & Learning Style Test, we discovered that students who perform in the top 5% excelled in six out of eight intelligence types, including Linguistic, Visual-Spatial, Musical (which tends to correlate very strongly with Visual-Spatial), Intrapersonal, and Naturalistic. The gap between top students and below average students was prominent in Logical-Mathematical intelligence, where the two groups were separated by a nine-point gap (76 vs. 67, on a scale from 0 to 100). Students with average grades excelled in Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence.
Our stats also reveal that nearly half (44%) of top-performing students frequently used 4 or more intelligence types (scores of 85 or more), 26% have 5 or more, and 15% have 6 or more, compared to 29%, 15%, and 7% respectively for below average students. Interestingly, both below average and top students indicated that they learn best through hands-on learning, and are very visually-oriented. This begs the question: If they share this preferred style of learning, why the large gap in performance?
Here’s our theory: Top students are more likely to nurture more than one intelligence type, while below average students may be focusing only on those they are best at. Top students will strive to turn their weaknesses into strengths, and will take advantage of opportunities to develop their intellectual capacities in many different ways. And results from our study bear this theory out. For example, 48% of top students enjoy engaging in strategy games like chess, compared to 34% of below average students. 70% of top-performing students also read as a pastime. So given the opportunity to develop different forms of intelligence, teachers, parents, and students themselves may be surprised at the amazing things that can be accomplished.
Here are some tips to develop each of the intelligence types:
Maximizing Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
- Take a hands-on approach to new tasks rather than having things explained verbally.
- Take up a sport or any other physical activity (dance, acting, etc.).
- Power up your PC. Using computers and interactive programs can improve hand-eye coordination.
Maximizing Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
- Play strategy games like chess or dominoes, or do brainteasers.
- When brainstorming, use techniques like Forced Relationships/Analogies.
- Categorize or organize your work and ideas using tables, charts, graphs, etc.
Maximizing Linguistic Intelligence
- Do crossword puzzles or play word games online (like Scrabble ™, Text Twist ™, etc.).
- Make it a point to learn a new word every day.
- Talk yourself through a problem – it allows you to gain a greater perspective of it.
Maximizing Visual-Spatial Intelligence
- Take up a sculpting, painting, photography, or graphics design class.
- Use visualization techniques when you need to motivate yourself to complete a goal (e.g. imagine how happy you’ll be once the goal is achieved).
- When studying or memorizing, use flash cards or highlight the material you need to remember. These are good ways to pick up and absorb new knowledge.
Maximizing Musical Intelligence
- Learn to play an instrument or take singing lessons.
- Study, brainstorm, or work with music in the background. Take breaks by listening to music.
- When memorizing material, organize the information in the form of a song or a limerick.
Maximizing Intrapersonal Intelligence
- When tackling a project or task, find some time to brainstorm on your own. Take a walk, get some fresh air, etc.
- Relate new material you learn to real-life experiences. Take your time to ponder and process new information.
- Get to know yourself better. Figure out what motivates you, what your strengths and weaknesses are, ponder your values and beliefs, and find out which are your strong personality traits.
Maximizing Interpersonal Intelligence:
- When tackling a project or task, try working with a partner or at least have someone to bounce ideas off of.
- Get actively involved in brainstorming sessions; problem-solve in groups.
- Attend courses or read up on how to improve your people skills.
Maximizing Naturalistic Intelligence
- When learning new material, try classifying it into different categories.
- Get some fresh air when you want to clear your head or brainstorm new ideas.
- Take up bird-watching, whale-watching, rock-collecting, or gardening.