Howard Gardner of Harvard has identified
seven distinct intelligences. This theory has emerged from recent
cognitive research and "documents the extent to which students
possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember,
perform, and understand in different ways," according to
Gardner (1991). According to this
theory, "we are all able to know the world through language,
logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical
thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things,
an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of
ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these
intelligences - the so-called profile of intelligences -and in
the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined
to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress
in various domains."
Gardner says that these differences "challenge
an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn the
same materials in the same way and that a uniform, universal
measure suffices to test student learning. Indeed, as currently
constituted, our educational system is heavily biased toward
linguistic modes of instruction and assessment and, to a somewhat
lesser degree, toward logical-quantitative modes as well."
Gardner argues that "a contrasting set of assumptions is
more likely to be educationally effective. Students learn in
ways that are identifiably distinctive. The broad spectrum of
students - and perhaps the society as a whole - would be better
served if disciplines could be presented in a numbers of ways
and learning could be assessed through a variety of means."
The learning styles are as follows:
- think in terms of physical space, as do architects and sailors.
Very aware of their environments. They like to draw, do jigsaw
puzzles, read maps, daydream. They can be taught through drawings,
verbal and physical imagery. Tools include models, graphics,
charts, photographs, drawings, 3-D modeling, video, videoconferencing,
television, multimedia, texts with pictures/charts/graphs.
- use the body effectively, like a dancer or a surgeon. Keen
sense of body awareness. They like movement, making things, touching.
They communicate well through body language and be taught through
physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing.
Tools include equipment and real objects.
- show sensitivity to rhythm and sound. They love music, but
they are also sensitive to sounds in their environments. They
may study better with music in the background. They can be taught
by turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping
out time. Tools include musical instruments, music, radio, stereo,
- understanding, interacting with others. These students learn
through interaction. They have many friends, empathy for others,
street smarts. They can be taught through group activities, seminars,
dialogues. Tools include the telephone, audio conferencing, time
and attention from the instructor, video conferencing, writing,
computer conferencing, E-mail.
- understanding one's own interests, goals. These learners tend
to shy away from others. They're in tune with their inner feelings;
they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong
will, confidence and opinions. They can be taught through independent
study and introspection. Tools include books, creative materials,
diaries, privacy and time. They are the most independent of the
- using words effectively. These learners have highly developed
auditory skills and often think in words. They like reading,
playing word games, making up poetry or stories. They can be
taught by encouraging them to say and see words, read books together.
Tools include computers, games, multimedia, books, tape recorders,
Logical -Mathematical - reasoning, calculating. Think conceptually,
abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships.
They like to experiment, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions.
They can be taught through logic games, investigations, mysteries.
They need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with
At first, it may seem impossible to teach
to all learning styles. However, as we move into using a mix
of media or multimedia, it becomes easier. As we understand learning
styles, it becomes apparent why multimedia appeals to learners
and why a mix of media is more effective. It satisfies the many
types of learning preferences that one person may embody or that
a class embodies. A review of the literature shows that a variety
of decisions must be made when choosing media that is appropriate
to learning style.
Visual media help students acquire concrete concepts, such as
object identification, spatial relationship, or motor skills
where words alone are inefficient.
Printed words: There is disagreement about audio's superiority
to print for affective objectives; several models do not recommend
verbal sound if it is not part of the task to be learned.
A distinction is drawn between verbal sound and non-verbal sound
such as music. Sound media are necessary to present a stimulus
for recall or sound recognition. Audio narration is recommended
for poor readers.
Models force decisions among still, limited movement, and full
movement visuals. Motion is used to depict human performance
so that learners can copy the movement. Several models assert
that motion may be unnecessary and provides decision aid questions
based upon objectives. Visual media which portray motion are
best to show psychomotor or cognitive domain expectations by
showing the skill as a model against which students can measure
Decisions on color display are required if an object's color
is relevant to what is being learned.
Realia are tangible, real objects which are not models and are
useful to teach motor and cognitive skills involving unfamiliar
objects. Realia are appropriate for use with individuals or groups
and may be situation based. Realia may be used to present information
realistically but it may be equally important that the presentation
corresponds with the way learner's represent information internally.
Instructional Setting: Design should cover whether the materials are
to be used in a home or instructional setting and consider the
size what is to be learned. Print instruction should be delivered
in an individualized mode which allows the learner to set the
learning pace. The ability to provide corrective feedback for
individual learners is important but any medium can provide corrective
feedback by stating the correct answer to allow comparison of
the two answers.
Learner Characteristics: Most models consider learner characteristics
as media may be differentially effective for different learners.
Although research has had limited success in identifying the
media most suitable for types of learners several models are
based on this method.
Reading ability: Pictures facilitate learning for poor readers
who benefit more from speaking than from writing because they
understand spoken words; self-directed good readers can control
the pace; and print allows easier review.
Categories of Learning Outcomes: Categories ranged from three to eleven and most
include some or all of Gagne's (1977) learning categories; intellectual
skills, verbal information, motor skills, attitudes, and cognitive
strategies. Several models suggest a procedure which categorizes
learning outcomes, plans instructional events to teach objectives,
identifies the type of stimuli to present events, and media capable
of presenting the stimuli.
Events of Instruction: The external events which support internal learning
processes are called events of instruction. The events of instruction
are planned before selecting the media to present it.
Many models discuss eliciting performance where the student practices
the task which sets the stage for reinforcement. Several models
indicate that the elicited performance should be categorized
by type; overt, covert, motor, verbal, constructed, and select.
Media should be selected which is best able to elicit these responses
and the response frequency. One model advocates a behavioral
approach so that media is chosen to elicit responses for practice.
To provide feedback about the student's response, an interactive
medium might be chosen, but any medium can provide feedback.
Learner characteristics such as error proneness and anxiety should
influence media selection.
Testing which traditionally is accomplished
through print, may be handled by electronic media. Media are
better able to assess learners' visual skills than are print
media and can be used to assess learner performance in realistic
from "The Distance
Learning Technology Resource Guide," by Carla Lane