Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Exploring the Application of Multiple Intelligences Theory to Career Counseling

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Exploring the Application of Multiple Intelligences Theory to Career Counseling

Article excerpt

This article demonstrates the practical value of applying H. Gardner's (1993) theory of multiple intelligences (MI) to the practice of career counseling. An overview of H. Gardner's MI theory is presented, and the ways in which educational and vocational planning can be augmented by the integration of MI theory in career counseling contexts are discussed. The Multiple Intelligences Developmental Assessment Scales (C. B. Shearer, 2007), a research-based self-report measure of intellectual disposition, is introduced, and a case study illustrating the effective application of H. Gardner's MI theory to career counseling is presented.

For half a century, the field of career development has widely acknowledged the late adolescent years as a time of career exploration when-after a period of purposeful exploration-the primary career development tasks are to crystallize a vocational preference through the establishment of a vocational self-concept, to specify the preference, and to implement it (Super, 1957). As career development professionals have long recognized, an essential aspect in the prevention of a vocational identity crisis during the late adolescent/young adult period of development is the establishment of a vocational identity, which is "the possession of a clear and stable picture of one's goals, interests, and talents" (Holland, Gottfredson, & Power, 1980, p. 1191). Adolescents and young adults who lack stable career goals and are undecided regarding their career choices are likely to display low self-esteem and inadequate educational self-efficacy (Hull-Blanks et al., 2005) and are at risk for dropping out of school prematurely (Noel, 1985).

Watkins and Savickas (1990) described the need to integrate (in both theory and practice) the distinct disciplines of vocational guidance and career counseling. Vocationaljuidanceuses an actuarial method of matching the objectively measured skills and traits of the individual with data that characterize various occupations. This so-called scientific method can even be used without the intervention of another human being (e.g., counselor, adviser, instructor) via the application of computer-based career planning programs, such as the Kuder Career Planning System (Kuder, Inc., 2007), DISCOVER (ACT, Inc., 2007), or any number of widely available self-directed career assessments. Career counseling, on the other hand, places greater emphasis on the individual's subjective experience and the relationship with a counselor who "elicits occupational possibilities, not through traits, but through self-exploration and interpreting meaning. . . . These personal ideas and feelings compose the client's private-sense conceptions of self, work, and life" (Watkins & Savickas, 1990, p. 97).

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how the application of Gardner's (1993) multiple intelligences (MI) theory can be used to achieve a blend of objective assessment and subjective reflection - with a focus on an expanded definition of intellectual abilities - in the career counseling process. We argue that a process approach to assessing a client's MI profile can be used to promote career development by addressing three factors found to be vital to the career decision-making process: (a) realistic self-appraisal of abilities, (b) understanding of skills required for various types of work, and (c) the facilitation of what Parsons (1909) referred to almost 100 years ago as "true reasoning" (p. 5) on the relation between the two.

Gardner's MI Theory

In 1983, Howard Gardner published Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, in which he provided extensive research to support his contention that human intelligence is multifaceted rather than singular. More recently, Gardner (1999) defined intelligence as "a biopsychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture" (pp. …

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