Although Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences (MI) is over a decade old, teachers are still trying to find the best way to use this theory to assess students with different styles of learning and varied academic strengths. Multiple Intelligences shape the way students understand, process, and use information.
Gardner groups student capabilities into eight broad categories (each
student's unique learning style is a combination of these intelligences):
Since no single approach to teaching and assessment can possibly work best
for every student, teachers face a challenge. What's the best way to match assessments
to students' learning styles?
Assessing Multiple Intelligences
Of course, assessment should reflect the diversity of intelligences and learning styles in your classroom. For example, students who are good at spatial learning might not display the full range of their knowledge on an essay test. In fact, traditional testing methods are inherently biased in favor of students with strong linguistic and mathematical skills. Advocates of MI theory suggest that teachers supplement their traditional assessment methods with assessment strategies that evaluate student progress in an inclusive, meaningful way.
So, how can you use the theory of multiple intelligences to assess student
achievement in your classroom? The MI approach to testing is closely related
to authentic assessment. This approach enables students to demonstrate the
depth of their understanding, connect their classwork to real-life experiences,
and apply their knowledge to new situations.
MI theorists offer the following tips:
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:
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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