Multiple Intelligence in a Center Based Environment


  • Kaitlyn M. Arns


Multiple Intelligences, Intrinsic Motivation, Centers, Assessment, Student-Centered, Self-Determination Theory, Learning Styles, Small Groups, Units, Choice-Based, Constructivism


The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI), originally defined by Howard Gardner (1993, 1999), continues to contribute to epistemological and pedagogical understandings and practices in the elementary classroom. The multiple intelligences manifest naturally through students’ work; center-based learning is an effective approach to authentically activating children’s innate intelligences. Centers provide an opportunity for students to explore a subject through varied experiences. The MI Theory reveals each child possesses particular intelligences and ways of understanding which supports their learning in unique ways. Consequently, traditional lessons taught in whole group settings do not satisfy individual needs. Furthermore, affording children with opportunities to determine choices in their own education, they become more motivated to engage with the material. Self-Determination Theory explains why an individual’s interest in their schoolwork increases once they are empowered to make decisions about what they learn
based on their interests. Building on Gardner’s work, this current discussion suggests the most effective way to foster all intelligences is through choice-based centers. This overview of existing research supports implementing the theories of Multiple Intelligences and Self-Determination in the classroom. Recommendations for centers and authentic assessments are also included as a guide for reforming instruction to best benefit students.


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