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What is a Multiple Intelligences Test?

By K'Lee Banks
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A multiple intelligences test is way to measure a person's strength in different proposed areas of intelligence, including visual/spatial, mathematical/logical, and bodily/kinesthetic. The theory of multiple intelligences was developed by psychologist and Harvard professor, Howard Gardner, to explain how humans interact with the world around them as part of the learning process. According to the theory, learning styles are intrinsically related to multiple intelligences. A multiple intelligences test can help pinpoint a student's learning style and indicate appropriate teaching strategies.

Gardner originally proposed his theory of multiple intelligences and identified seven of them in 1983, adding two more in 1999. Each intelligence represents a set of skills, and over half of these are dual competencies. Every individual possesses all nine intelligences, but some are more dominant than others; a multiple intelligences test can help a person identify which are the dominant ones for him. Gardner's first three intelligences are the ones most commonly associated with learning styles: visual/spatial, verbal/linguistic, and mathematical/logical. The six remaining intelligences are as follows: bodily/kinesthetic, musical/rhythmic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, naturalist, and existentialist.

Howard Gardner himself has not developed a multiple intelligences test and has stated that he does not endorse any particular test. He believes it would be difficult to design a test that would fully and accurately assess each intelligence and the test taker's strengths or weaknesses. Although he has not given an endorsement, Gardner has praised the careful manner in which the Multiple Intelligences Development Assessment Scales (MIDAS) test was developed by Dr. Branton Shearer in 1987. The test is available from Shearer's company, Multiple Intelligences Research and Consulting, Inc.

Gardner has noted that the MIDAS test has some deficiencies. It cannot assess actual performance of tasks and presupposes that test takers can honestly, accurately, and impartially answer questions about their own personal strengths and weaknesses. In spite of this disclaimer, Gardner's praise adds some credibility to MIDAS. Shearer himself defines the three-page test as a "research based self-report measure of intellectual disposition for people of all ages" profiling an individual’s "full range of skills, abilities and intellectual potential."

The MIDAS test assesses four main categories of intellect. The first category evaluates all the intelligences except existentialism. The 25 types of skills relevant to each intelligence are covered in the second category. An individual's intellectual styles and preference in the areas of general logic, innovation, and leadership are the focus of the third category. Qualitative information is collected from answers to questions about intellectual activities and factual outcomes in the fourth category.

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