to Gardner [5, p.83-84] intelligence is a construct that draws
on biological and psychological potentials and should not be
confused with a domain or discipline which are "socially constructed
human endeavors". It should also not be confused with the concept
of learning style, or cognitive preference or working style
which designate an approach that an individual can apply equally
to an indefinite range of content. "In contract, an intelligence
is a capacity, with its component computational processes, that
is geared to a specific content in the world. These contents
(with their yoked intelligences) range from the sounds of language
to the sounds of music to the objects of the natural or the
of the MIT to chemistry teaching and learning
According to Gardner, just as there are varieties of looks and
personalities in the classroom, there is a variety of minds
or intelligences in the classroom. Teachers should think of
all intelligences as equally important. "… plurality of minds
begets a plurality of ways to make sense of various worlds"
[6, p. 212].
Teachers should teach to a broader range of talents or abilities
or minds than the traditional logical-mathematical and verbal-linguistic
abilities which are normally catered to in the typical classroom.
All students benefit by being exposed to a variety of experiences
which engage or stimulate the different "minds" or intelligences
in them. This means that teachers should structure the presentation
of material in a way that engages most or all of the intelligences.
The engagement of intelligences can take place at any of the
stages of a lesson i.e. at the opening stage or during main
explanation or during closure as part of review of the main
concepts covered in the lesson or topic.
 suggests that the possibility that some students might have
failed certain school subjects such as chemistry or find the
subject difficult in school because of a mismatch between their
intelligences profile or preferences and the methods or media
used to present or teach the content of that particular subject
to them. For example, a student high on musical-rhythmic and
bodily-kinesthetic intelligences and low on verbal-linguistic
and logical-mathematical intelligences could find it difficult
to grasp the topic of particle kinetic theory if the teacher
presents the topic by using the didactic method alone. In contrast,
if the teacher had used role play or pantomime with pupils performing
movements or dances, accompanied by music, the concept could
have been better grasped and remembered.
ideas put forth by Gardner generally go down well with teachers,
including chemistry teachers, who have been encouraged or trained
to organize, manage and facilitate a variety of learning experiences
and media/resources in order to cater to the variety of learning
styles or cognitive preferences in the classroom. The multiple
intelligences theory provides an additional foundation or basis
for the use of a variety of methods and media in chemistry teaching/learning.
The theory also ties in well with constructivist teaching/learning
strategies which emphasize active learning, using of trigger
activities to "grab" the attention of learners, motivating learners
to want to learn by providing reasons for learning and by using
posing problems of interest or relevance to them.
The following table lists some teaching/learning strategies
or activities that can be used to enhance learning in students
with strengths in each of the intelligences (Table 1). The table
can also be read as illustrating how the various intelligences
can be stimulated or enhanced in students through the various
different learning activities or strategies.
1. Multiple Intelligences vis-ŕ-vis Chemistry Learning Activities/
activities or strategies
write, send email, search the internet, write poetry such
as chemical limericks , news reports, fiction stories
concerning topics such as environmental pollution, bonding,
Periodic Table (specific example 3).
problems/puzzles on environment-related topics (such as
haze problems, water shortage). Use computer software (database,
spreadsheet, programming, simulations, multimedia authoring)
to investigate atmospheric pollution
pictures or diagrams of events, phenomena "experienced"
or "observed". Make models (atomic, molecular and kinetic
particle). Extract or present information as concept maps,
mind maps, charts or diagrams, photos and spreadsheets.
Use or design videos, filmstrips, multimedia presentations.
projects, hands-on investigations, field trips. Use dance
or pantomime or role play to illustrate effect of pollution
on organisms, particle arrangement and movement during phase
songs e.g. "Sing a song of atoms", learn tunes, write tunes
and rap songs, create mnemonics, play classical music in
in small group discussions, ask clarifying questions; cooperative
groups, group games, collaborate with peers from other schools/regions/countries
and exchange data on topics such as environmental pollution
and air quality.
or journal writing, independent study, self-paced instruction
and individualized projects and games in which opponent
objects, events and phenomena according to natural surroundings,
find origins. Classify a given group of substances according
to whether they are elements, mixtures or compounds.
following are some specific examples of how the various forms
of intelligences can be catered to in the teaching of some specific
chemistry concepts in the secondary school chemistry curriculum.
The specific form(s) of intelligence(s) enhanced or stimulated
in a particular activity is/are enclosed in parentheses.
1: Kinetic particle theory
During the closure or consolidation phase of this topic, students
working in cooperative groups (inter-personal intelligence)
or as a whole class can be asked to plan and execute a role
play (visual-spatial and bodily-kinesthetic intelligences) simulating
the arrangement and movement of particles in a substance which
exists as a solid at normal room conditions. They could then
be asked to role play how the arrangement and movement of particles
would vary with increasing absorption of heat energy. In this
way, they should have a better understanding of the expansion
of solids, liquids and gases upon absorption of heat and the
phase changes involved (solid to liquid and from liquid to gas).
further consolidation of the theory, students could also be
encouraged to role play the changes in reverse, i.e. when a
gas is cooled so that it condenses to form a liquid which is
further cooled until it freezes to form a solid.
role play could be accompanied by the use of suitable music
(fast tempo for gaseous state, slower tempo for liquid state
and even slower tempo for solid state) and appropriate dance
movements matched to the tempo of music (musical-rhythmic intelligence).
2: Atomic structure
This topic can be taught by several approaches, which could
include the story-telling approach relating the story (verbal-linguistic
intelligence) of how the scientist view of the atom develops
from the time of the ancient Greeks to the current view that
the students are expected to understand and remember. The narration
of the story can be assisted by the use of models, pictures,
drawing and diagrams, computer-related graphics (visual-spatial
review and consolidation could be done by encouraging students
to write a song/rap about atoms (musical-rhythmic intelligence).
The following is an example of a composition of a song by students
to be sung to the tune of "Sing a song of sixpence".
a song of atoms,
a composite of particles.
Proton, neutron, electron,
Are in atoms big and small…."
3: Periodic Table
The development of the periodic table could be presented by
a cooperative group of students (inter-personal intelligence)
after having completed a literature investigation (verbal-linguistic
intelligence) on the topic. Students could, among other things,
be encouraged to design and present a multimedia presentation
(visual-spatial and logical-mathematical intelligences) on their
consolidation or review, students could be given the task of
inventing games (logical-mathematical intelligence) based on
the families or groups in the periodic table. They could also
be tasked to imagine that they are one of the elements in the
periodic table and to write autobiographies or stories (verbal-linguistic
intelligence) concerning their selected element such as "A day
in the life of Francium" (or whichever element they opt for).
They could also write and sing/recite songs/raps (musical-rhythmic
intelligence) about the different elements in the period table
such as the following song which can be sung to the tune of
"I hear thunder, I hear thunder" or "Are you sleeping, Are you
"I am sodium, I am metal
In Group I (repeat)
I am very active
I react with water
Be my friend (repeat)"
could also be encouraged to create their own mnemonics (verbal-linguistic
and musical-rhythmic intelligences) to help them remember the
first 18 elements in sequence, which is a requirement in the
secondary school chemistry examinations syllabuses.
mnemonic creating activity had been tried out with students
and it was found that many students did enjoy this activity
which stimulate the flow of their "creative" juices.
1 of the periodic table comprising hydrogen, the smallest atom,
and helium, the second smallest atom and the first noble gas
element can be easily remembered, and should not require any
mnemonic as a memory aid. The noble gas element that comes immediately
after helium in group VIII or group 0, neon, is also easily
challenging task for most students is to learn is to remember
the rest of the periods 2 and 3 elements in sequence.
it could prove interesting and useful to encourage students
to create their own mnemonics to help them remember these elements.
following is a mnemonic invented in the process of trying to
remember the period 2 elements in sequence.
Boy Blue Cannot Open Fire"
(which is similar to the first line of the Nursery Rhyme "Little
Boy Blue" which has the following as the first verse: "Little
Boy Blue Come Blow Your Horn". )
Boy=Be, Blue=B, Cannot=C, Open=O, and Fire=F
period 3 elements can be remembered in sequence with the creation
of the word "Namgalsipsclar" in parallel with the word "Rumpelstilskin".
(The fairy tale of a miller's daughter who is asked to spin
straw into gold for the king or else she dies. Rumpelstilskin
helps her out of her dilemma, in exchange for her first-born
The symbols for the period 3 elements are found in sequence
in the word "Namgalsipsclar" i.e. Na, Mg, Al, Si, P, S, Cl,
The concept of "electrolysis" in the secondary school chemistry
syllabuses could be taught by using the Predict-Observe-Explain
(POE) strategy, which has been proposed and widely used as one
of the constructivist teaching/learning strategies.
learners working in cooperative groups of 2 to 4 (inter-personal
intelligence) are asked to discuss and predict what they would
observe if electricity is passed into saturated sodium chloride
solution using carbon electrodes. Through the process of prediction,
the teacher would be eliciting the prior knowledge of the learners.
After allowing learners to articulate their prior ideas, the
experiment could then be conducted, either as a whole-class
demonstration or as a cooperative group investigation (visual-spatial
and bodily-kinesthetic intelligences). In their cooperative
groups students would then try to reconcile their observations
with their predictions and come out with an explanation (verbal-linguistic
and logical-mathematical intelligences) for their observations.
journal writing to enhance or stimulate intra-personal intelligence
as well as verbal-linguistic intelligence
In all the four specific examples discussed, intra-personal
intelligence can be catered to by asking students to maintain
science journals which involve them in keeping records and reflections
on the activities/investigations experienced by them. There
could be four phases of journal activity - pre-investigation,
during investigation, post-investigation, and communication
journal activity is unlike the traditional lab or science practical
report which tends to focus on factual and procedural knowledge.
Instead, this particular type of 4-phased journal activity could
take students beyond the factual and procedural knowledge to
focusing on conceptual understanding, science processes and
attitudes besides catering to the enhancement and stimulation
of intra-personal intelligences in the learners.
Teachers have often sought to help students learn meaningfully
and effectively, and in the process to develop a sense of accomplishment
and self-confidence. In the process of helping students learn
meaningfully and effectively, they have been trained and challenged
to use a variety of learning activities and media to cater to
different learning styles or preferences. Gardner's Theory of
Multiple Intelligences at the classroom level, provides an additional
theoretical foundation for using a variety of learning activities
and media to cater to different forms of intelligences or minds
in the classroom.
 Boo, H.K.: Children's Conception of Intelligence - Effects
on Achievement Goals and Behaviour. Scientas, 20, 29-32, 1986.
Gardner, H.: Frames of Mind. New York: Basic Books (1983).
Gardner, H.: To Open Minds: Chinese Clues to the Dilemma of
Contemporary Education. New York: Basic Books (1989).
Gardner, H.: Frames of Mind. New York: Basic Books (1993).
Gardner, H.: Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for
the 21st Century. New York: Basic Books (1999).
Gardner, H.: The Disciplined Mind: What All Students Should
Understand. New York: Simon and Schuster (1999).
Gardner, H.: The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How
Schools Should Teach. New York: Basic Books (1991).
Williams, F.: The Use of Chemical Limericks in the Classroom.
J.Chem. Ed., 72(12), 1123-1124, 1995.
Shepardson, D. P. & Britsch, S.J.: Chidlren's Science Journals:
Tools for Teaching, Learning, and Assessing. Science and Children,
February 1997, 13-17, 1997.
November 27, 2002.