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How to Appeal to the Multiple Intelligences of Your Adult Learners
Educate and motivate your adult learners by appealing to unique needs. Multiple intelligences theory can help teachers and trainers bring out the best in every learner.
The task of educating and training adults can be both exhilarating and exhausting. When things go well, you secretly proclaim yourself Instructor of the Universe. But when learners return your thought-provoking questions with blank stares, you sometimes consider throwing in the teaching towel for good.
Fortunately for adult educators and trainers, there's hope and help in learning theory. Enter Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University and father of the theory of multiple intelligences. According to Gardner, each person possesses varying degrees of several intelligences. Art aptitude, musical talents, communication skills, reasoning abilities, and knacks for hands-on activities are all accounted for in this theory. Plainly explained, we're all smart in different ways. By putting theory to action, adult educators and on-the-job trainers can guide every learner toward success.
The Eight Intelligences
While the number of intelligences is a subject of hot debate, Gardner says there are at least eight. They are:
According to Gardner, individuals possess each of these intelligences, though they may be stronger in some areas than in others. To provide the most effective instruction, educators and trainers should appeal to as many of these intelligences as possible.
Why Incorporate Multiple Intelligences Into Teaching and Training
New classroom or training experiences can provoke feelings of anxiety in older learners. These jitters often stem from a history of failure in traditional schools or programs. Many of these adults associate learning with their weaknesses.
Applying multiple intelligence theory offers all adults an opportunity to thrive in class and in the workplace. Imagine a GED student who excels in language arts activities, but struggles with learning the multiplication table. When presented as a random set of numbers, that student grows frustrated. Now picture that same student learning number facts by putting math to poetry and rhyme. Let's try another example. Visualize a trainee who never seems to understand your company's customer service mission, no matter how many times you run the standard PowerPoint presentation. Consider how that student will thrive when you build upon his interpersonal skills through role-plays. Capitalizing on an individual's strengths invites learners to succeed where they may have otherwise failed. Here's some more good news: research shows that tapping into adult learners' strengths also boosts morale, interest, and engagement in a subject. Translation: Higher retention rates and less snoring in the back of the room.
How To Integrate Multiple Intelligence Theory Into Teaching and Training
Incorporating MI theory into your teaching and training of adults does not necessarily require a complete restructuring of your program. Allow the following ideas and suggestions to guide your own instruction.
Incorporating learning theories into your teaching can revolutionize your classroom. Adult learners will find a new world opened to them when their emotional needs are met and intellectual strengths are realized.