Explanation of Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences

Multiple intelligences and learning styles are simply the different ways in which people think and learn. This information can be very important to teachers or to those people who are having trouble in school, college, or workplace training.

Learning Styles

Learning styles are classified into three categories: visual learners, auditory learners, and tactile/kinesthetic learners. Visual learners learn by seeing and think in pictures. They need to see body language and facial expressions and prefer to sit in the front of the room or close to the lecturer. They prefer visual displays while they are learning like charts, diagrams, or pictures. Visual learners tend to take detailed notes and may include drawings to help them understand the content.

Auditory learners interpret the underlying meanings of speech and learn best through listening. They take meaning from a speaker’s pitch, volume, speed, and intonation and learn best in discussions and verbal lectures. They benefit from talking things through, reading text aloud and using a tape recorder.

Tactile/Kinesthetic learners are active and may have trouble sitting still. These learners learn best by touching, moving, or doing something while learning. They enjoy actively exploring the world around them and may become bored or distracted without activity to engage them.

Multiple Intelligences

The concept of multiple intelligences was developed by Dr. Howard Gardner in 1983. Dr. Gardner explains that traditional I.Q. testing is too limited and that each person has the potential for seven different types of intelligences.

Visual/Spatial Intelligence is described as picture smart. People who have high visual/spatial intelligence think in pictures and are in interested in movies, maps, videos, and pictures. They are normally proficient at puzzle building, writing, understanding charts and graphs, sketching, and painting.

People with Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence think in words rather than pictures, and are skilled in word usage and language. They are talented speakers, have keen auditory skills, and excel in writing, story telling, teaching, and persuasive arguments.

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence is the ability to use reason, logic and numbers. People with Logical/Mathematical Intelligence are curious, ask many questions and like to make connections between numerical patterns and the world around them. They think logically and are good at problem solving, complex calculations, geometry, abstract concepts, and classifying information.

Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence is displayed through movement. Learners with good Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence can skillfully control their body movements. They have excellent eye-hand co-ordination and a good sense of balance. They learn best by interacting with the space around them and are talented in dancing, sports, creating and building with their hands.

Learners that are skilled at producing and appreciating music have Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence. They tend to think in rhythms, sounds, and patterns and usually more aware of sound in their environments. People with this intelligence are proficient in playing instruments, singing, composing, and understanding the basic composition and rhythm of music.

Sales people, counselors and politicians may have Interpersonal Intelligence or the ability to relate and understand others. These people are very open to the intentions and feelings of others. They use their excellent speaking skills and body language to communicate with people around them and are usually the peacekeepers in group settings. They learn from using other people’s point of view to understand and they are good listeners. These learners are exceptional at building trust and positive relations with other people because they use empathy and observation to understand their feelings and moods.

Intrapersonal Intelligence is the opposite of those listed above. These people are not skilled at recognizing the moods and feelings of others, but are more adept at self-reflection and their inner state of being. They understand their place in relation to others and are skilled at recognizing their own strengths and weaknesses. They constantly reflect and analyze themselves, their desires and dreams and their thinking patterns. They are usually best suited for careers in philosophy or research.

The study of learning styles and multiple intelligences has caused a slight shift in education. Educators aware of this research have worked to change the way material is taught and processed in a classroom. The uses of visual aids, computer technology, and even music have been incorporated into lessons giving students an advantage to learn in many different ways.

These studies also benefit adult learners or those in the workforce. They allow a person to choose a career path that best fits them by understanding their intelligence type or learning style. For example, a kinesthetic learner with high Intrapersonal Intelligence would not be suited for a job where they sat all day in a cubicle and had little interaction with other people. By understanding this research, people may also understand what job or career path would make them most happy.

Another implication of these studies is for those in the workplace that are responsible for training others or for presenting material to others. Knowing that people have different learning styles and different types of intelligence can help presenters or trainers organize material in ways that appeal to all.