When reviewing criticism of Multiple Intelligences theory, addressing the historically ever-present question of whether intelligence is one thing or many things is unavoidable. The fundamental criticism of MI theory is the belief by scholars that each of the seven multiple intelligences is in fact a cognitive style rather than a stand-alone construct (Morgan, 1996). Morgan, (1996) refers to Gardner's approach of describing the nature of each intelligence with terms such as abilities, sensitivities, skills and abilities as evidence of the fact that the "theory" is really a matter of semantics rather than new thinking on multiple constructs of intelligence and resembles earlier work by factor theorists of intelligence like L.L. Thurstone who argued that a single factor (g) cannot explain the complexity of human intellectual activity. According to Morgan (1996), identifying these various abilities and developing a theory that supports the many factors of intelligence has been a significant contribution to the field. Furthermore, he believes that MI theory has proven beneficial to schools and teachers and it may help explain why students do not perform well on standardized tests but it in Morgan's opinion it does not warrant the complete rejection of g.
Accepting Gardner's TheoryofMultipleIntelligences has several implications for teachers in terms ofclassroom instruction. The theory states that all seven intelligences are needed to productively function insociety. Teachers, therefore, should think of all intelligences as equally important. This is in great contrastto traditional education systems which typically place a strong emphasis on the development and use of verbaland mathematical intelligences. Thus, the TheoryofMultipleIntelligencesimplies that educators shouldrecognize and teach to a broader range of talents and skills.
Gardner (1995) admittedly avoided addressing criticism of his theory for nearly a decade after the publication of Frames of Mind. However, in a 1995 article that appeared in Phi Delta Kappan he responds to several "myths" about the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. These myths provide a summary of the major commentary on and criticism of Gardner's theory. The first myth is that if there are seven intelligences we must be able to measure them with seven specific tests. Gardner is vocal about his disdain for a singularly psychometric approach to measuring intelligence based on paper and pencil tests. Secondly, he responds to the belief that an intelligence is the same as a domain or a discipline. Gardner reiterates his definition of an intelligence and distinguishes it from a domain which he describes as a culturally relevant, organized set of activities characterized by a symbol system and a set of operations. For example, dance performance is a domain that relies on the use of bodily-kinesthetic and musical intelligence (Gardner, 1995).
Gardner concluded from his work with these two populations that strength in one area of performance did not reliably predict comparable strength in another area. With this intuitive conclusion in mind, Gardner set about studying intelligence in a systematic, multi-disciplinary, and scientific manner, drawing from psychology, biology, neurology, sociology, anthropology, and the arts and humanities. This resulted in the emergence of his Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI Theory) as presented in Frames of Mind (1983). Since the publication of that work, Gardner and others have continued to research the theory and its implications for education in general, curriculum development, teaching, and assessment. For the purposes of this Hot Topic, the focus will be on a description of the theory, major criticisms, and the implications for assessment.
Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences strains credulity
To qualify as an "intelligence" the particular capacity under study was considered from multiple perspectives consisting of eight specific criteria drawn from the biological sciences, logical analysis, developmental psychology, experimental psychology, and psychometrics. The criteria to consider "candidate intelligences" (Gardner, 1999a, p. 36) are:
1) the potential for brain isolation by brain damage,
2) its place in evolutionary history,
3) the presence of core operations,
4) susceptibility to encoding,
5) a distinct developmental progression,
6) the existence of idiot-savants, prodigies and other exceptional people,
7) support from experimental psychology, and
8) support from psychometric findings (Gardner, 1999a).
Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences – Teacher Education
According to Gardner, all humans possess and exhibit these sevenintelligences, and individuals possess varying amounts of these intelligencesand combine them and use them in personal and idiosyncratic ways. Thesedifferences exert profound effects upon the child as a student, determining, forexample, which "entry point," (a story, an image, hands-on activity)is most likely to be effective for a given student in encounters with newmaterial, and less happily, which concepts are likely to be confused with oneanother. We might think of the topic as a room with at least five doors or entrypoints into it. Students vary as to which entry point is the most appropriatefor them and which routes are most comfortable to follow once they have gainedinitial access to the room. Awareness of these entry points can help the teacherintroduce new materials in ways which they can be easily grasped by a range ofstudents; then as students explore other entry points, they have the chance todevelop those multiple perspectives that are the best antidote to stereotypicalthinking (Gardner, 1991).
Finally, Gardner (1999a) draws his last two criteria from traditional psychology and psychometrics to determine if a candidate intelligence makes it onto the list of specific abilities he calls Multiple Intelligences. There must be support from experimental psychology that indicates the extent to which two operations are related or different. Observing subjects who are asked to carry out two activities simultaneously can help determine if those activities rely on the same mental capacities or different ones. For example, a person engaged in working a crossword puzzle is unlikely to be able to carry on a conversation effectively, because both tasks demand the attention of linguistic intelligence, which creates interference. Whereas, the absence of this sort of competition allows a person to be able to walk and converse at the same time suggesting that two different intelligences are engaged. In spite of the fact that Gardner proposed his theory in opposition to psychometrics, he recognizes the importance of acknowledging psychometric data (1999a).
Howard Gardner’s theory is bases on multiple intelligence
Moran et al. (2006) indicated that multiple intelligences theory proposes viewing intelligence in terms of nine cognitive capacities, rather than a single general intelligence. Thus, a profile consists of strengths and weaknesses among "linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalistic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and (at least provisionally) existential" (p. 23). Overall, the theory has been misunderstood in application.