Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Multiple Intelligence in the Economics Classroom

Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Multiple Intelligence in the Economics Classroom

Article excerpt


There is a common euphemism in the United States, "Great minds think alike." While it is a funny saying, research proves that people actually do not think alike. As educators, when we reflect on this fact we find that perhaps the most common form of teaching (i.e. lecture) may not necessarily be the most effective. This problem stems from the different ways that individuals' minds work.

Researchers have been trying to nail down the properties of intelligence for decades. Over the years advances have been made, from identifying ways to test intelligence to recognizing the different types of intelligence that people possess. One researcher, Howard Gardner, demonstrated that there are, in fact, ten different ways that people think. He refers to these different mindsets as intelligences. When Gardner developed his theory he did not have any intention of it being used for educational purposes. However, the application of the Multiple Intelligence Theory in the classroom can make a huge difference in the ways subjects are taught, and subsequently how effectively students learn the material. If educators use Gardner's theory, they could potentially reach a broader audience of students and increase students' understanding of the subject matter--especially economics.

This paper proposes ways in which educators can apply Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences to the teaching of basic theories of economics. I am choosing to concentrate on the theories of Gardner because his theory seems to cover the spectrum in terms of all the different areas in which different people can excel. My contribution is to take the theories of differentiated learning styles and apply them to the teaching of economics. First, I will present a literature review of intelligence theories, including the theory of Howard Gardner. Gardner's theory will then be compared to other theories and its educational uses will be explored. Finally, this paper will apply Gardner's theory to the teaching of economics with examples of alternative teaching strategies.


Sternberg studied intelligence during the last portion of the Twentieth Century. He created a theory called the Triarchic Theory of Intelligence. He detailed his theory in, Beyond IQ: A Triarchic Theory of Intelligence (Sternberg, 1985). Sternberg's theory was based upon the idea that there were three main levels of intelligence. These intelligences were based on the different ways individuals relate to the world around them, and include an individual's relationship to the external world, the internal world, and experience (Sternberg, 1985).

David A. Kolb and Mark K. Smith both attempted to define intelligence in terms of different learners. They maintain that there are four main types of learners: Assimilators, Accommodators, Divergers, and Convergers. These researchers compiled their theories into a paper called, "David A. Kolb on Experimental Learning" (Smith, 2001). These different types of learners have different characteristics in terms of their abilities, and thus have different ways in which they learn best. An Assimilator is a person who is strong in inductive reasoning and is highly interested in abstract concepts. An Accommadator is a person who solves problems intuitively, is known to take risks, and thinks quickly on his/her feet. Accommodators are doers. Convergers are very practical, unemotional people. They have narrow interests and focus mostly on specific problems. Divergers are rather imaginative people who are interested in others. They are known to have high interests in other cultures and the ability to see things from someone else's perspective (Smith, 2001).

There are also researchers who focus solely on a person's emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence refers to a person's ability to read, adjust and deal with their own emotions and others' emotions. Some of the top researchers in this area of intelligence include Daniel Goldman, Peter Salovey, and John Mayer. …

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