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Adult Multiple Intelligences

Resources for Policymakers


The Adult Multiple Intelligences Study incorporated teachers as research partners and examined how multiple intelligences (MI) theory supports instruction and assessment in adult literacy education. This first systematic effort related to MI theory in the field creates a foundation of MI practice that can serve others working in adult literacy education.

Suggested Readings

Open to Interpretation: Multiple Intelligences Theory in Adult Education—Findings from the Adult Multiple Intelligences Study. Silja Kallenbach and Julie Viens, NCSALL Report #21, May 2002.
This report details the findings of the Adult Multiple Intelligences (AMI) Study, the first systematic effort to investigate how Multiple Intelligences (MI) Theory supports assessment and instruction in ABE, ASE, and ESOL programs. Based on the work of Howard Gardner, MI Theory defines intelligence as “the biological potential to solve problems or make products that are valued in a culture” (Gardner, 1993, 2000). The report describes the theoretical background of the AMI Study, MI Theory and the adult literacy education context, and the teacher research process and its results. The document describes the data collection and analysis methods used to integrate two, connected qualitative research projects. The naturalistic approach supports analysis and comparison of applications of MI theory in various contexts. Findings suggest that MI-inspired instructional practices result in high levels of authentic instruction and student engagement. The study also affirms the value of teachers and students working closely to develop metacognitive skills in relation to learning styles. Implications for practice, professional development, assessment, program design, policy, and research are described. Abstracts of the class-based, teacher research projects are included.

Multiple Intelligences in Practice: Teacher Research Reports from the Adult Multiple Intelligences Study. Edited by Julie Viens and Silja Kallenbach, NCSALL Occasional Paper, February 2001.
This document describes the Adult Multiple Intelligences (AMI) study, the first to apply Multiple Intelligences (MI) theory to adult literacy education. The study involves ten ESOL, ABE, and GED practitioners from across New England who participate in an eighteen month investigation of how MI theory supports instruction and assessment. Teachers participating in the project develop their research questions in relation to their specific context. Abstracts and the complete practitioner-research reports, which document the inquiry process, and findings are included.

Questions to Consider

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