Another way of looking at how we learn is the theory of multiple intelligences, which suggests that all human beings have at least eight different types of intelligence. This theory was developed in 1983 by Howard Gardner. Gardner’s theory is based on the idea that the traditional definition of human intelligence is very limited. Gardner argues that students should be encouraged to develop the abilities they have and that evaluation should measure all forms of intelligence.

Gardner’s work is controversial because it questions our traditional definitions of intelligence. According to Gardner’s theory, all human beings have at least eight different types of intelligence, described here as follows:

  1. A person with verbal/linguistic intelligence likes to read, write, and tell stories and is good at memorizing information.

  2. A person with logical/mathematical intelligence likes to work with numbers and is good at problem solving and logical processes.

  3. A person with visual/spatial intelligence likes to draw and play with machines and is good at puzzles and reading maps and charts.

  4. A person with bodily/kinesthetic intelligence likes to move around and is good at sports, dance, and acting.

  5. A person with musical/rhythmic intelligence likes to sing and play an instrument and is good at remembering melodies and noticing pitches and rhythms.

  6. A person with interpersonal intelligence likes to have many friends and is good at understanding people, leading others, and mediating conflicts.


  7. A person with intrapersonal intelligence likes to work alone, understands himself or herself well, and is an original thinker.

  8. A person with naturalistic intelligence likes to be outside and is good at preservation, conservation, and organizing a living area.

To get a better sense of your multiple intelligences, complete the inventory below.


Put a check mark next to all the items within each intelligence that apply to you.

Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence

  • I enjoy telling stories and jokes.

  • I enjoy word games (for example, Scrabble and puzzles).

  • I am a good speller (most of the time).

  • I like talking and writing about my ideas.

  • If something breaks and won’t work, I read the instruction book before I try to fix it.

  • When I work with others in a group presentation, I prefer to do the writing and library research.

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence

  • I really enjoy my math class.

  • I like to find out how things work.

  • I enjoy computer and math games.

  • I love playing chess, checkers, or Monopoly.

  • If something breaks and won’t work, I look at the pieces and try to figure out how it works.

Visual/Spatial Intelligence

  • I prefer a map to written directions.

  • I enjoy hobbies such as photography.

  • I like to doodle on paper whenever I can.

  • In a magazine, I prefer looking at the pictures rather than reading the text.

  • If something breaks and won’t work, I tend to study the diagram of how it works.

Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence

  • My favorite class is gym because I like sports.

  • When looking at things, I like touching them.

  • I use a lot of body movements when talking.

  • I tend to tap my fingers or play with my pencil during class.

  • If something breaks and won’t work, I tend to play with the pieces to try to fit them together.

Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence

  • I enjoy listening to CDs and the radio.

  • I like to sing.

  • I like to have music playing when doing homework or studying.

  • I can remember the melodies of many songs.

  • If something breaks and won’t work, I tend to tap my fingers to a beat while I figure it out.

Interpersonal Intelligence

  • I get along well with others.

  • I have several very close friends.

  • I like working with others in groups.

  • Friends ask my advice because I seem to be a natural leader.

  • If something breaks and won’t work, I try to find someone who can help me.

Intrapersonal Intelligence


  • I like to work alone without anyone bothering me.

  • I don’t like crowds.

  • I know my own strengths and weaknesses.

  • I find that I am strong-willed, independent, and don’t follow the crowd.

  • If something breaks and won’t work, I wonder whether it’s worth fixing.

Naturalist Intelligence

  • I am keenly aware of my surroundings and of what goes on around me.

  • I like to collect things like rocks, sports cards, and stamps.

  • I like to get away from the city and enjoy nature.

  • I enjoy learning the names of living things in the environment, such as flowers and trees.

  • If something breaks down, I look around me to try and see what I can find to fix the problem.

Now, count up the check marks for each intelligence, and write the total for each here. Your score for each intelligence will be a number between 1 and 6.

Total Score

  • Verbal/Linguistic

  • Musical/Rhythmic

  • Logical/Mathematical

  • Intrapersonal

  • Visual/Spatial

  • Interpersonal

  • Bodily/Kinesthetic

  • Naturalist

Your high scores of 3 or more will help you to get a sense of your own multiple intelligences. Depending on your background and age, some intelligences are likely to be more developed than others.

Now that you know what your intelligences are, you can work to strengthen the other intelligences that you do not use as often. How do your college courses measure ways in which you are intelligent? Where do they fall short? Looking to the future, you can use your intelligences to help you make decisions about a major, choose activities, and explore career options. It is important for you to be aware of your intelligences and share them with your academic adviser, who can help you make sound future educational and career plans. This information will also help you appreciate your own unique abilities and also those of others.



Pick a challenge you are facing right now. How many of the eight intelligences could help you deal with this challenge?