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  4. Multiple intelligences

Multiple intelligences

How should intelligence be defined and what difference does it make? How valid are IQ tests in assessing intelligence?

The value of IQ tests has been questioned by researchers, and Howard Gardner, working in the 1980s, suggested that people have multiple intelligences that relate to skills and abilities.

Intelligence Associated Skills and Abilities
Linguistic Using words and language
Logical-mathematical Using numbers and logic
Musical Using music, sound and rhythm
Bodily-kinesthetic Using body and physical movement
Spatial Using space and images
Interpersonal* Understanding others' feelings
Intrapersonal* Understanding your own feelings

*These can be grouped together as 'personal intelligences'.

Source: Gardner, H (2006) Multiple Intelligences, Perseus Books Group/Basic Books, New York.

This list is not exhaustive - Gardner and others continued to add to his original list. Gardner also stressed that while individuals might show a stronger leaning towards one or more intelligence, all can all coexist, in varying degrees, within each person.

Why are multiple intelligences relevant?

Formal education often focuses on developing linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences, which can affect the priorities of teaching and learning and the methods and approaches used.

Think about your own strengths and weaknesses as a student. How, if at all, do they relate to the list of multiple intelligences? Do you have any particular talents, skills or interests that indicate higher or lower levels of particular intelligences? How do you think these affect what you study and how you study?

Students with highly developed musical intelligence, for example, might find it easier to understand information that they hear rather than read. They might benefit from lectures, podcasts and other audio-visual materials.

The value of emotional intelligence in study may not be immediately obvious, but can make a great difference to your motivation and self-confidence.