IntroductionPhoto of a woman sitting on steps with her laptop.

Since no two students learn exactly the same way, it is suggested teachers take an approach to teaching and learning that offers students multiple options for taking in information and making sense of ideas.

An online course with curriculum presented in a variety of ways helps target a range of student learning styles and multiple intelligences.

In this module we will:


Learning Objectives

At the end of this module, participants will be able to:


Photo of a dictionary definition. Glossary of Key Terms


Big Idea – Multiple Intelligences

Two young boys playing with blocks. Education has largely been shaped by a growing understanding of how people learn.

According to Piaget, cognitive development in children proceeds in a predictable sequence of steps. Children learn not so much by acquiring content from outside their minds, but rather by constructing it from within.

This theory of learning, known as constructivism means people construct new knowledge and understandings based on what they already know and believe (Cobb, 1994; Piaget, 1952; Vygotsky, 1962).


Big Idea - Multiple Intelligences

Blooms Taxonomy Building from Piaget's work, in 1956, Benjamin Bloom and a group of educational psychologists developed a classification of levels important in learning. In Bloom's Taxonomy cognitive skills are ordered hierarchically and emphasis is placed on mastering a full array of cognitive skills.

Bloom's Taxonomy provides the basis from which we write learning objectives. Learning objectives form the backbone of any well-designed course, lesson plan or learning activity.  

Take the following RadioJames Tutorial. (Click the Start button in the left box marked for first time users.)  

The 7 minute tutorial provides a practical guide on how to write learning objectives in alignment with the Taxonomy.

The following hand out, Bloom's Taxonomy - Writing Measurable Outcomes, provides a list of measurable outcome verbs (or question cues) targeted to each level of the Taxonomy.


Big Idea - Multiple Intelligences

Two young boys painting. Since Bloom, many theorists have deepened our understanding of how some humans learn best. Howard Gardner, among others, expanded the notion to include multiple intelligences.

The theory of multiple intelligences (MI) was first described by Howard Gardner in Frames of Mind (1983). Gardner defines intelligence as "an ability or set of abilities that allow a person to solve a problem or fashion a product that is valued in one or more cultures."

Gardner claims that all human beings have eight multiple intelligences. Each can be nurtured and strengthened, or ignored and weakened.A young girl playing the violin.

With respect to students, he believes, "It's not about how smart they are, it's about how they are smart.

In the following pages we will explore all eight of Gardner's intelligences and provide strategies for how to nuture each in the classroom setting.


Here's How – Multiple Intelligences

Picture of a student with laptop by the ocean Along with each intelligence, you will find lists of classroom and technology-specific activities. An overview is available at the end of the section.

I. Verbal Linguistic Intelligence

Verbal-linguistic intelligence is the capacity to use language to express what is on your mind and understand other people. Students strong in this capacity will have:

Classroom Strategies >>

Technology Specific Activities >> 


Here's How – Multiple Intelligences

Picture of an abacus. 2. Mathematical-Logical Intelligence

This is the ability to think conceptually in logical and numerical patterns, and make connections between pieces of information. Students strong in this capacity will have:

Classroom Strategies >> 

Technology Specific Activities >>


Here's How – Multiple IntelligencesGraphic of musical notes.

3. Musical Intelligence

Musical intelligence is the capacity to think in music, to be able to hear patterns, recognize, remember and perhaps manipulate them. Students strong in this capacity will have:

Many of these learners are extremely sensitive to environmental sounds.

Classroom Strategies >>

Technology Specific Activities >> 


Here's How – Multiple Intelligences

Photo of a tree on a beach. 4. Visual-Spatial Intelligence

Visual-spatial intelligence refers to the ability to represent the spatial world internally in one's mind. Students strong in this capacity will have:

 Classroom Strategies >>

Technology Specific Activities >> 



Here's How – Multiple Intelligences

Photo of people running. 5. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

This intelligence is the ability to control one's body movements and handle objects skillfully. Students strong in this capacity will have:

Classroom Strategies >>

Technology Specific Activities >>



Here's How – Multiple IntelligencesTeacher talking to a student.

6. Interpersonal Intelligence

Students strong in interpersonal intelligence will have:

Classroom Strategies >>

Technology Specific Activities >>

Here's How – Multiple Intelligences

Photo of a woman deep in thought. 7. Intrapersonal Intelligence

Intrapersonal intelligence refers to having an understanding of oneself. Students strong in this capacity will have:

Classroom Strategies >>

Technology Specific Activities >>



Here's How – Multiple Intelligences

Photo of a woman working outdoors. 8. Naturalist Intelligence

Naturalist intelligence is the ability to:

Note: Naturalist intelligence was not recognized as part of Gardner's original theory. It has been criticized as not really indicative of an intelligence and better described as just an interest.

Classroom Strategies >>

Technology Specific Activities >>

From the Field – Multiple Intelligences

Girl writing a math equation on a white board. Although Gardner's work has been subject to criticism, his theory has broadened perceptions of what it means to be intelligent.

Prior to Gardner's work, Intelligence Quotient (IQ) theory assumed a person's intellectual potential was fixed. IQ's could be measured early and determine individual potential.

Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences suggests a broader view, and has opened minds as to how learning and education can be changed to ensure all students are guided to achieve maximum potential.

The theory of differentiated instruction suggests instructional approaches should vary and be adapted in relation to individual needs and diverse students in classrooms.





From the Field – Multiple Intelligences

Incorporating a variety of instructional strategies to present information, as well as providing a range of ways students can interact with each other and with the curriculum, offers students more opportunities for success.

For a review of each of the multiple intelligences, complete the Self Check match activity below.

 Toggle open/close quiz question


Discussion icon

Discussion Question: In what ways (if any) might Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences impact the way you teach your online courses?


From the Field – Multiple Intelligences

The Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, a charter elementary school in Gainesville, GA is an example of an entire school that is based on MI theory. Learn more in this video, Multiple Intelligences Thrive in Smartville.

Big Idea – Learning Styles

Picture of a young boy with headphones in front of a computer. Along with eight categories of intelligences, research suggests, there is also a range of learning styles.

A learning style is the combination of individual characteristics that shapes a student's approach to a learning task. It is commonly believed that learners favor some particular method of interacting with, collecting and processing information.

In the pages that follow, we will provide an overview of some well-known learning style theories, along with online learning style inventories you can use in your classroom.

Drs. Palloff and Pratt will discuss their views on learning style theories and finally, we will look at ways to apply a range of activities in the online classroom that cater to a variety of learning style needs.

Big Idea – Learning Styles

To begin, watch this introductory video from It provides an overview of concepts we will explore in this section.


Here's How – Learning Styles

VARK Model

Photo of camera, musical notes, book, and remote control suspended over a flat panel monitor. A popular categorization of learning styles, referred to in the video as modalities, is the VARK model (Hawk & Shah, 2007). Learners are categorized as preferring these types of styles:


Here's How – Learning Styles

VARK Model cont'd

Various teaching strategies for VARK are highlighted in the Flash Card Activity below and available in the VARK Review. 


 Hyperlink to Flash Card Activity 


Discussion icon of people.

Discussion Question: Based on what you have learned with the VARK model, do you tend to favor one 'learning style' over another? Do you think your learning style preference has an impact on how you present information to your students?


Here's How – Learning Styles

Anthony Gregorc Model

In thinking about how you like to learn best, look to the four learning styles below (place your cursor over each). Does any one bulleted list resonate with you more than another?

Style 1

Style 2

Style 3

Style 4

The lists within each style are based on a model designed by Dr. Anthony Gregorc. Gergorc's model is based on the existence of perceptions - our evaluation of the world by means of an approach that makes sense to us (Mills, 2001).

These perceptions are the foundation of our specific learning strengths, or learning styles.

Incorporating strategies from all four quadrants can help provide a balance of instructional methods targeting a multitude of learning styles.

Here's How - Learning Styles

Although Gregorc's Model has a learning style inventory available, it is not free to use. Below are two that you may want to try with your students – or perhaps you have one already that you use and would like to recommend in the Discussion Forum.


Discussion Question: Would you consider using an online learning style inventory with your students? If you have used one in the past, in what ways have you found it useful (or not)? Is there an online inventory you would like to recommend?

From the Field - Learning Styles

Drs. Palloff and Pratt Some academics argue that there is too much focus on learning style theory.

In the following podcast, Drs. Palloff and Pratt suggest that a well-designed online course with differentiated instruction will likely touch upon most learning styles and help students find success.

(Scroll to the audio player below and click the gray arrow to listen. The audio recording is 5:30. There is no video component.)

Discussion icon Discussion Question: What are your thoughts on Palloff and Pratt's views regarding learning styles?





From the Field - Learning Styles

In this video, Emelyn Stalnaker, Senior Instructional Designer, Lone Star College-Online, Houston, TX, talks about how to implement teaching strategies that address a variety of individual learning styles and multiple intelligences in the classroom.


In this module we have explored Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, along with various perspectives related to learning styles. We have provided lists of teaching strategies that relate to each type of intelligence and those that target individual learning styles.

As mentioned earlier, and as Drs. Palloff and Pratt reinforce, the need to incorporate a variety of differentiated instructional strategies to present information, as well as provide a range of ways students can interact with each other and with the curriculum, offer students more opportunities for success.

To review the concepts explored in this module complete the Crossword Activity below.

 Hyperlink to Crossword Activity 


Bloom, B.S. (Ed.) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. Susan Fauer Company, Inc. 1956.

Bransford, J., Brown, A., and Cocking, R. eds. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Checkley, K. (1997). The First Seven…and the Eighth. Educational Leadership, 55(1) 8-13.

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

Hall, T. (2002). Differentiated instruction. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. Retrieved July 9, 2009 from

Hawk, T., Shah, A. (2007). Using Learning Style Instruments to Enhance Student Learning. Decision Sciences The Journal of Innovative Education, 5(1), 1-19.

Mills, D. W. (2002). Applying what we know: Student learning styles. Retrieved July 8, 2009, from:

Piaget, J. (1928). The Child's Conception of the World. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Silver, D. (2005). Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers. Nashville: Incentive Publications.

The Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, U.S. Department of Labor (June 1991). What Work Requires of Schools: A SCANS Report for America 2000.

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society: Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Final Assessment

Please complete the following before proceeding to the next module. Click on each question to begin.

Question 1

Question 2

Question 3

Question 4