Third International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology
Maura Sellars,
University of Newcastle,
Newcastle, Australia

Presentation (ppt)


The purpose of this paper is to examine the reactions, responses and results of 90 tertiary post graduate students when required to incorporate Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory into their plans to support the learning of primary aged students in classroom mathematics activities. A particular emphasis was placed on the development of pupils’ accurate intrapersonal intelligence to support the mathematical component that required individual learners to articulate and justify their mathematical thinking.

The paper discusses the challenges and complexities of teaching pre service primary teachers to implement Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory as a tool for effective differentiation. The students were post graduates studying to obtain a qualification to teach primary school aged children. The context in which Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory was introduced was in the lectures and tutorials which focused on preparing the pre service teachers for teaching mathematics to students aged 5-12 years old. The challenges of teaching this cognitive theory include widening the perceptions of the tertiary students regarding the nature of intelligence, developing their understanding of effective learning in mathematics and encouraging them to investigate the potential of differentiated activities in this key learning area.

The major complexity centered on the precise nature of Gardner’s intrapersonal intelligence domain; nominated by Gardner as the single most important construct for learning in the twenty first century; and its relationship to other theories of ‘self’ and the construct of metacognition. Included in this dialogue was the importance of this intelligence domain in learning in general and, in this instance, specifically in the teaching and learning of mathematical thinking in constructivist classrooms.

The strategies and tools utilized as tutorial activities were not part of any formal research plan or intervention. The aim of the strategies and tasks was to engage students with Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory and afford them first hand experiences with the types of activities that they may useful in supporting student learning in the classroom, given the wide diversity of student cultures, experiences, competencies and learning preferences that are found in many Australian classrooms. The students themselves were diverse in many ways; not simply in their undergraduate backgrounds, but also nationality, educational experiences and competencies in the knowledge domain being taught and so provided a suitable cohort with which to implement these activities. In an attempt to engage all the course participants, some of the activities planned were included in the requirements of the course, thus providing some common themes for discussion and investigation during the tutorial times.

The grades for the course were better than previous years, with a large number of very high achievers. These results could have many explanations. Other responses, including individual feedback about the courses was positive. However, the activities and resources that these pre service teachers designed and planned for classroom implementation reflected a unique depth of understanding about how diverse student learning in mathematics is best supported and how mathematical thinking and logic can be fostered in students of all ages and competencies. Integrating a cognitive theory into content studies made a difference.

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