Teaching To The 8 Types of Intelligence

Teaching to the 8 different types of intelligence

Different Types of Intelligence: Understanding the Diversity of Human Cognition

Accommodating different types of intelligences in the teaching whether online or offline, can lead to better learning outcomes. This concept has gained traction in recent years as educators have recognized that intelligence is not limited to standardized test scores. Dr. Howard Gardner, a neuroscience professor at Harvard University, first introduced the theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1983. He posited that there are multiple types of intelligence, and each individual possesses a unique combination of these intelligences.

Instructors are increasingly seeking ways to make their course content more engaging and effective for all students. One way to achieve this is by catering to different learning styles and intelligences. In this article, we will explore the eight different types of intelligence and provide examples of how to teach them, as well as discuss how to cater to multiple intelligences in a course and answer frequently asked questions.

Key Takeaways

  • Catering to different types of intelligences can lead to better learning outcomes.
  • Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences posits that there are multiple types of intelligence, and each individual possesses a unique combination of these intelligences.
  • Educators can adapt their teaching style to cater to different learning styles and intelligences.

8 Different Types of Intelligence (+ Examples of How to Teach Them)

There are various types of intelligence, and each individual has their own unique combination of strengths and weaknesses. Here are 8 different types of intelligence and examples of how to teach them:


Spatial learners have a natural ability to visualize and perceive the world in terms of space and dimension. They excel in thinking graphically and imaginatively, making them great problem solvers. To teach spatially intelligent students, it is best to engage them with visual materials like models, charts, photographs, and videos. For example, teaching them about the different planets in the solar system can be made more effective by having them manipulate a scaled 3D model online. This method allows them to better conceptualize the planets’ relative sizes, distances from each other, and rotations around the sun.


Bodily-kinesthetic learners have a heightened awareness of their bodies and their surroundings. They excel in activities that involve touch, movement, and physical interaction. To teach dance choreography to these learners, for example, encourage them to practice the steps at home. This physical repetition and interaction will enable them to understand the material more deeply and remember the choreography more effectively.


Musical learners have a heightened sensitivity to various elements of sound. They are typically skilled at recognizing and understanding rhythms, pitches, and tones. These individuals have the ability to transform seemingly unrelated concepts into musical compositions or rhythmic patterns. To teach these learners, it is best to engage them by playing musical instruments, turning lessons into lyrics, or listening to music while studying. For example, teaching them about the stages of cell division could involve them composing a song about the process. This creative and auditory engagement helps them better understand and recall complex concepts.


Linguistic learners have a natural affinity for words and language. They are sensitive to the semantics, sound, and rhythm of words and possess an innate ability to express complex meanings through language. To teach these learners, it is best to engage them by reading, writing, storytelling, and engaging in abstract reasoning. An effective teaching strategy for these learners could be to discuss what caused a specific brand to grow, having students debate on the topic within online communities. This would encourage them to articulate their viewpoints, refine their arguments, and learn from the perspectives of others.


Logical-mathematical learners are masters of logic and reasoning. They have a knack for recognizing patterns among actions or symbols and using these patterns to form abstract thoughts. To teach these learners, it is best to engage them by thinking in terms of formulas, equations, operations, and thought maps. For example, teaching them about international trade could involve having them create a Venn diagram comparing the imports and exports between the US and Canada. This task allows them to visualize the data and recognize patterns and relationships.


Interpersonal learners are highly skilled at understanding and interacting with other people. They are sensitive to changes in mood, temperaments, and feelings, and they excel at collaborating in groups and communicating ideas effectively. To teach these learners, it is best to engage them through social interaction and group projects. For example, teaching them about creativity could involve organizing a virtual hangout where they peer review each other’s personal work. This method encourages collaboration, feedback sharing, and mutual learning.


Intrapersonal learners possess a deep and accurate perception of their own emotions, motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. They are self-aware and are often able to regulate their emotions effectively. To teach self-development to intrapersonally intelligent students, it could involve setting personal goals and reflecting on them in a journal. This task allows them to delve deep into their personal aspirations, understand their motivations, and track their progress over time. They could also explore different strategies to overcome personal challenges, thereby enhancing their self-understanding and self-regulation skills.


Naturalistic learners have a profound appreciation for the natural world and a sense of wonder towards all forms of life. They have an ability to identify and classify species, plants, and other elements of the natural world. To teach these learners, it is best to engage them by experiencing things firsthand, making observations, and exposing their senses to nature. For example, showing them patterns in nature such as the spirals in sunflowers or the honeycomb structure of beehives can be highly effective in teaching them about math tessellations. These real-world examples will help them understand complex mathematical concepts in a more tangible and engaging way.

In conclusion, each individual has their own unique combination of strengths and weaknesses when it comes to different types of intelligence. By understanding these different types of intelligence and how to effectively teach them, educators can create a more inclusive and effective learning environment for all students.

Catering to Multiple Intelligences in Your Course

When designing a course, it is essential to consider the diversity of learners and their different strengths and learning styles. To ensure the best learning outcomes, the course should be flexible enough to cater to all types of intelligences. Here are some strategies that can help make a course more inclusive and effective:

Incorporating Different Learning Materials

Integrating a variety of learning materials can help engage different types of learners. Visual learners make up almost 65% of the general population, while 30% are auditory learners. Therefore, it is crucial to have a variety of learning materials. For spatial learners, consider using videos, infographics, and animations, while interactive quizzes or problem-solving tasks can engage logical-mathematical learners. Written materials and discussions or debates can benefit linguistic learners.

Encouraging Practical Activities

Incorporating practical activities and hands-on tasks can encourage bodily-kinesthetic learners. This can be as simple as having students physically write out notes or work on a craft or as complex as creating a physical model or conducting a science experiment.

Incorporating Interactive Group Projects

Interpersonal learners thrive in social learning environments. Incorporating group projects or discussions in the course can provide opportunities for these students to engage and learn from others. Using platforms such as Google Hangouts or Zoom for group collaboration can be highly effective.

Utilizing Music and Sound

Making use of music or sound clips can benefit musical learners. Transforming lessons into catchy songs or rhymes, or suggesting background music that might enhance concentration while studying, can help engage these learners.

Connecting with Nature

To engage naturalistic learners, incorporating examples from nature into the course content can be helpful. Using real-world examples that involve the natural environment, or even hosting classes outside if possible, can be effective.

Creating Challenges

Logical-mathematical learners appreciate a good challenge. Incorporating puzzles, logic problems, or brain teasers into the course can stimulate their problem-solving skills and make learning more enjoyable.

Reflecting and Refining

Finally, always be open to feedback and ready to refine the course. Encouraging students to communicate what’s working for them and what’s not can provide valuable insights to improve and adapt the course to better cater to all types of intelligences.

The aim is not to create separate learning pathways for each type of intelligence, but rather to weave elements that cater to all these different learning styles into a cohesive, engaging, and effective course. This ensures that every learner can engage with the material in a way that best suits their individual intelligence type, leading to a more inclusive and successful learning environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main theories explaining the different types of intelligence?

There are several theories that attempt to explain the different types of intelligence. One of the most well-known is Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, which suggests that there are eight different types of intelligence that are independent of each other. Other theories include the triarchic theory of intelligence, which proposes that intelligence is made up of three components: analytical, creative, and practical.

How do Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences differ from traditional IQ?

Traditional IQ tests measure a narrow range of cognitive abilities, such as logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligence. In contrast, Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences proposes that there are eight different types of intelligence, including musical, bodily-kinesthetic, and interpersonal intelligence, that are not measured by traditional IQ tests.

Can you list and describe the 8 intelligences identified by Howard Gardner?

The eight intelligences identified by Howard Gardner are:

  1. Linguistic intelligence: the ability to use language effectively
  2. Logical-mathematical intelligence: the ability to reason and solve problems using logic and numbers
  3. Spatial intelligence: the ability to think in three dimensions
  4. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence: the ability to control one’s body movements and handle objects skillfully
  5. Musical intelligence: the ability to perceive and create music
  6. Interpersonal intelligence: the ability to understand and interact effectively with others
  7. Intrapersonal intelligence: the ability to understand oneself and one’s emotions
  8. Naturalistic intelligence: the ability to recognize and categorize objects in nature

What is the significance of intrapersonal and linguistic intelligences in personal development?

Intrapersonal intelligence is important in personal development because it allows individuals to understand themselves better and to regulate their emotions. Linguistic intelligence is also important because it enables individuals to communicate effectively with others and to express themselves clearly.

How are the 9 types of intelligence measured and applied in educational settings?

The 9 types of intelligence are typically measured through a variety of methods, including self-report questionnaires, performance tasks, and observations. In educational settings, teachers can use this information to tailor their instruction to the individual strengths and weaknesses of their students.

What are some examples illustrating the application of the 8 types of intelligence in real-life situations?

Some examples of the application of the 8 types of intelligence in real-life situations include:

  1. A musician using their musical intelligence to compose a new song
  2. An athlete using their bodily-kinesthetic intelligence to perform a complex maneuver
  3. A writer using their linguistic intelligence to craft a compelling story
  4. A scientist using their spatial intelligence to visualize complex data
  5. A teacher using their interpersonal intelligence to build positive relationships with their students
  6. A therapist using their intrapersonal intelligence to understand their own emotions and biases
  7. A chef using their naturalistic intelligence to identify and combine different flavors and ingredients.
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Created by Martin Hamilton