In years past, I tried using a Multiple Intelligences Inventory like the surveys that many of us have seen, but found it to be counterintuitive. Instead, I use centers as a way of assessing and identifying my students’ needs. At the beginning of the school year, I arranged the classroom into centers with different types of math activities for them to explore. For example, one center focused on visual learners by engaging the students in an art activity involving mathematics. Another center focused on linguistics learners and involved word problems and logic puzzles. A third center focused on kinesthetic learners and had manipulatives for the students to explore mathematical concepts. At each of these centers, I had activities for the students to engage in independently (i.e. intrapersonal learners) or with a friend (i.e. interpersonal learners). By allowing the students to choose the center and activity they would like to participate, I was able to assess their style of learning as well as their learning needs.
In one class that I did this, I learned that many of my students appealed to the center that involved art, while a small number of them appealed to the center that involved word problems and logic puzzles. For this class, I approached mathematics from a more visual perspective, while providing the students with resources online for them to engage in further reading. I had students complete daily math journals where they had to summarize their learning by writing or illustrating their thoughts. I also provided the students with the means to solve problems visually (e.g. bar diagrams) or linguistically (e.g. written explanations).
In another class, I found that many of my students were absolutely uninterested in the logic games. Interestingly, this was my Geometry class, which addresses deductive and inductive logic throughout most of the course. After reflecting on the students’ needs, I decided to steer away from the traditional axiomatic approach to Geometry, and embraced a more project-based approach. Many of these students were interpersonal, linguistics, and bodily-kinesthetic learners. Therefore, I designed a variety of activities for them to explore the concepts of Geometry while collaborating in groups on projects that they designed and built.
For more information on the application of Multiple Intelligences Theory in Mathematics Education:
- Math for Multiple Intelligences by Gretchen Buher
- Multiple Intelligences and Mathematics Teaching by John Munro
- Multiply Using Multiple Intelligences by Jody Kenny Willis and Aostre N. Johnson