The observation that some individuals appear to acquire knowledge or skills more efficiently, and in ways that vary greatly from those of other individuals, is not a new one. Different people seem to learn more easily from different kinds of teaching methods. An important question that arises from this observation concerns the degree to which such characteristics of individuals are innate. All human beings certainly have a capacity for learning and are born with a certain degree of intelligence that is endowed by nature. It is also widely understood that some people seem to possess better-developed learning faculties. It is commonly recognized that some are simply more intelligent than others. But might there be other variations in the quality of human intelligence? Evidence indicates that not only are some people inherently more intelligent than others but that multiple forms of intelligence actually exist among human beings. The existence of varied forms of intelligence among different kinds of people likewise affirms the theory that there will be variation in the types of teaching methods to which individuals are responsive.
It is increasingly recognized by experts in the cognitive sciences that multiple forms of intelligence can indeed be found among human beings (Gardner, 2011). Each of these multiple forms of intelligence will interact more efficiently with different kinds of learning styles. The primary forms of the multiple intelligences that are observable among human beings can be understood within the context of four basic categories: verbal/linguistic, kinesthetic/tactile, visual, and auditory (Andronache, 2011). Emotional intelligence is also considered to be a supplementary form of intelligence. The verbal/linguistic form of intelligence involves the ability of the individual to solve and develop problems with the help of language. Such a person will tend to be very articulate and be able to speak to others in a way that is persuasive and authoritative. Someone possessing a verbal/linguistic form of intelligence will exhibit the ability to work with structures and structuring language rules. A person with this kind of intelligence will be able to learn quickly by means of direct interpersonal communication. They will also tend to excel at teaching others. With regards to their professional pursuits, an individual with verbal/linguistic intelligence is an ideal candidate for a profession where excellent communications skills are paramount, such as a trial lawyer or salesperson.
The kinesthetic/tactile model of intelligence is in many ways the polar opposite of the verbal/linguistic. Someone with kinesthetic/tactile intelligence is more easily taught by means of experiential efforts. This kind of person learns more efficiently by observing others than through verbal communication. The kinesthetic/tactile model of intelligence includes a well-developed ability to imitate the actions or procedures others. Such a person learns most easily simply by performing particular tasks. Merely explaining a method of performing a particular task to someone with kinesthetic/tactile intelligence without providing a visual demonstration will hinder the ability of the learner to acquire the ability to perform the task in their own right. One interesting characteristic of someone with kinesthetic/tactile intelligence is the frequency with which they seem to require breaks from their ordinary work patterns. It is unclear as to why this is the case. One may speculate that those with this kind of intelligence experience a kind of psychological overload as new information is absorbed thereby requiring mental regeneration with more regularity. Those with kinesthetic/tactile intelligence ordinarily possess the abilities that allow them to excel as skilled workers or technicians.
If the verbal/linguistic and kinesthetic/tactile models of intelligence can in many ways be considered the polar opposites of each other, the distinction between the visual and auditory forms of intelligence can likewise be said to form a similar dichotomy (Pritchard, 2008). Someone with a high level of visual intelligence learns more easily from observing the written word. A person of this kind of intelligence will easily be able to acquire information through reading and observing. The individual guided by visual intelligence will most easily absorb information through textbooks, written explanations, and visual images. People with a high level of visual intelligence also prefer to work alone. This latter characteristic may indicate an underdeveloped tendency for the accumulation of strong communications skill in some instances. It may also be that such a person simply learns more easily through an uninterrupted process of analyzing and absorbing data (Featro, 2011). The reading comprehension and writing skills of a person with high visual intelligence also tend to be very high.
Many people will claim that they are better able to retain information through listening than through reading. For instance, someone may remember easily the contents of a radio or television program but forget the same body of information after reading about it in a book or magazine article. Someone of this type displays an orientation towards audio intelligence rather than visual intelligence. A person of this kind will learn more easily by listening to lectures or audiotapes than through reading and likes to discuss information and interact with others as part of the learning process (Pritchard, 2008). It has been suggested that someone with audio intelligence should engage in reading aloud in order to better retain information. It can also include certain forms of audible music therapy.
It is clear that different kinds of learning abilities accompany individual personality types. A conscientious teacher should consider the variations in types of intelligence that individuals possess when developing teaching techniques. Some methods will work better than others with different kinds of intelligence. A conscientious learner should likewise seek to understand which kind of natural intelligence they possess and identify those kinds of learning methods that are most compatible with their own innate forms of intelligence. As human knowledge of the various types of intelligence and related learning capacities grows, more effective methods of both teaching and retaining information will likely be cultivated.
Andronache, D. (2011). The valences of multiple intelligences theory. Journal of Educational Sciences, 13(2), 18-26.
Featro, S. (2011). The relationship between learning styles and student online learning. Retrieved from http:// www.editlib.org/p/36272/
Gardner, H. (2011). The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Pritchard, A. (2008). Ways of learning: Learning theories and learning styles in the classroom. Pomona: Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from http://www.apus.eblib.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=362327